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50 the eagle our national emblem
The bald eagle was chosen on June 20, 1782 as the emblem of the United States of America.  It was selected for it distinguishing qualities of the bird such as long life span, great strength and majestic looks. 

If you never experienced the wonderful bird in flight, it really is an amazing site.  I was fascinated by the size of their wing span which can reach up to 90 inches.  I had the pleasure of seeing this fabulous creature fly to a nest to feed its young.   If you have not had a chance to see these birds in flight you can see them for yourself near various waterways in Illinois. 

You can spot the wintering bird at The Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower.  The Tower will host eagle events on Saturdays and Sundays throughout January and February. Take a tour of the Tower and see the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, all while enjoying the bird’s-eye-view of the migration patterns of the American Bald Eagle along the Mississippi .

Each weekend at the Tower will host a series of exciting eagle events, including artisans, demonstrations, hikes, workshops and more.  For more information about the Lewis Clark Confluence Tower, call (618) 251-9101 or go to http://confluencetower.com/calendar-of-events.cfm.

A few fun facts about bald eagles:

Stature – bones are hollow; weigh 10 – 14lbs. and approx. 7,000 feathers, wingspan 72 to 90 inches

Size – The female bald eagles is 35 to 37 inches, slightly larger than the male.

Flight – fly to an altitude of 10,000 feet and achieve speeds of 30 to 35 mph

Longevity – may live as long as thirty years, because they are top of the food chain

Eagles may live as long as thirty years, because they are top of the food chain.  They are strong swimmers along with their excellent eye sight can spot their prey from high altitudes.   Their diet is mainly fish, dead and decaying flesh.  They like to migrate near their food source, you can find them along many of Illinois water ways. 

Check out the other Illinois areas for eagle watching near you:

Bald Eagle Days at Pere Marquette

IL Route 100, Great River Road
Grafton, IL 62037

Phone: (618) 786-3323

Web site: http://www.visitalton.com/visitors-events-details.cfm?ID=1527

Bald Eagle Trolley Tours

Rt 178 & Rt. 71
Utica, IL 61373

Phone: (800) 868-7625

Web site: http://www.starvedrocklodge.com

Bob Motz-Professional Bald Eagle Watching Tours

Illinois and Iowa Quad Cities
Rock Island, IL 61201

Phone: (309) 788-8389

Email: eaglemotz@aol.com

Eagle Watching – Union County Refuge

2755 Refuge Road,
Jonesboro, IL 62952

Phone: (618) 833-5175

Web site: http://dnr.state.il.us/Lands/Landmgt/PARKS/R5/UNIONCO.htm

Eagle Watching in Alton

Route 100
Alton, IL 60642

Phone: (618) 465-6676

Web site: http://www.greatriverroad.com/Eagles/eagleCover.htm

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Illinois Waterway Visitor Center

950 N. 27th Road
Ottawa, IL 61350

Phone: (815) 667-4054

Take a picture of these fabulous creatures and send it to us to post on our flicker account.   Submit all photos to: enjoyillinois@gmail.com.  In your email, be sure to include your full name, the title for your image and where in Illinois you captured your eagle shot.

51 ice skating in chicago

Ice Skating in Millennium Park

Looking for some winter fun?  If you are in Chicago, head to Millennium Park for ice skating and people watching it’s a great way to enjoy the day.   The McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park is open and will remain open through Sunday, March 13, 2011, weather permitting.   The rink is in its 10th season it is free and open to the public.  Skate rental is available for $10.  The ice rink is located on Michigan Avenue between Washington and Madison Streets. 

If you prefer indoor skating, head to the top of the John Hancock Observatory to Skating in the Sky overlooking sky-high views of the city’s lakefront skyline.  The rink is approximately 50’ X 20’ and constructed of sate of the art synthetic substance called XTRAICE.  Disney on Ice performs on a similar rink. 

Don’t let the cold weather give you cabin fever get out and enjoy some winter fun.  Let us know what winter activities are available in your area.

52 reindneer in illinois

Proof, there are Reindeer in Illinois

“Yes, there are Reindeer in Illinois.”  They are beautiful animals, which were flown in from Alaska. You will hear the ‘clickity click’ of their big hooves.  They don’t go on housetops until December 25th until then, you can see these fabulous creatures at Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch in Rantoul.

Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch was created in 1995 by Julie and Mark Hardy and family when they purchased their first two reindeer to help sell Christmas Trees on their farm. http://www.reindeerranch.com/  They now have 16 reindeer to help pull Santa’s sleigh.  

Hardy's Reindeer Ranch

Take the Reindeer tour and surround yourself with these magical animals of the North. You’ll have a chance to feed them and you can even give them a ‘reindeer kiss’ – if you’re brave. It’s a great photo opportunity. 

Please send us a copy to share on flickr page, send photo to enjoyillinois@gmail.com

Christmas is a magical time of the year with the Reindeer. Take a Reindeer tour and get up close and friendly with Klondike, Flurry, Mistletoe and the other Reindeer.  For a fun Holiday treat stop to see the reindeer at Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch as they get ready for their big day.  They are stationed at Hardy’s all year along,  while they wait for next Christmas. 
Happy Holidays!
53 the american toby jug
Tony Fillapot

Tony Fillapot

It’s so fun to find a treasure hidden in plain view. Walking in Evanston beside a new glass-clad building, a colorful window display caught our eye. We were mesmerized by the unusual sight of stout figures and chubby mugs. Suddenly a man materialized beside us, opened the door, and said, “Would you like to come in? Welcome to the American Toby Jug Museum.” He led us down the stairs into a quiet wonderland of history, craftsmanship and ceramics.

American Toby Jugs

American Toby Jugs

The American Toby Jug Museum is a truly one-of-a-kind experience. Nowhere else in the world can you view so many Toby and Character Jugs. What is a Toby Jug? Generally speaking, it is a pouring pitcher created in the shape of a person, usually with a built-in sense of wit or humor. Technically, a Toby is a full-body jug, while a Character Jug includes only the face. In my walks through the museum’s many glass cabinet aisles, I saw historical characters, animals, animated characters and mugs, jugs and teapots of all sizes – some as small as a bee and some clearly too large to lift. Many were made by famous English, French, and German potters and ceramics manufacturers; others were custom produced for private collectors.

This mysterious and kindly man who greeted us at the door turned out to be Stephen M. Mullins, the museum’s founder and curator. He explained to us that the museum is normally open by appointment, but that he had noticed our interest. As their brochure explains, Mullins began his Toby Jug adventure as a boy when he spent his summer camp candy money on six small Royal Doulton character jugs. Over sixty years later, the collection now includes over 7000 pieces from over 20 countries and 200 different makers, dating from the 1760’s to the newest 2011 prototypes. Mullins has also co-authored two books on the subject, including A Century of Royal Doulton Character and Toby Jugs. There’s also an interesting story behind the quietly elegant Museum building. Mullin’s original plan was to build an addition onto the old Bank building at the corner of Chicago and Main. When this plan could not happen due to constraints, he acquired the adjoining properties and commissioned a contemporary structure by architects Brininstool+Lynch. The simplicity of the exterior serves as the perfect foil for the antiquities within.
Toby Jug Museum Aisles

Toby Jug Museum Aisles

I can firmly recommend this museum as a good stop for all ages. There’s truly something for everyone here, and your eyes will not know where to start or stop. Even if you don’t consider yourself an aficionado of small breakable objects, you will find yourself enthralled by the depth and interest of this collection. My kids couldn’t get enough of it.
Amusing Toby Jugs

Amusing Toby Jugs

The American Toby Jug Museum is open by appointment and located at 910 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, IL 60202. Visit www.tobymuseum.com or call 1.877.TOBYMUSeum (1.877.862.9687).

Shopping and Eats: If you’re in the area, you’ll find lots of other fun stops nearby. Some of my favorite places to grab a bite are The Brothers K Coffeehouse (the North Shore’s best latté), Lupita’s Mexican Restaurant (authentic homecooked deliciousness), and Belgian Chocolatier Piron (chocolate heaven). Just a few of the unique shops in this neighborhood include Vogue Fabrics (sewing and fabric paradise), Healthy Green Goods (eco-friendly bed & bath), and Dave’s Down to Earth Rock Shop and Prehistoric Life Museum (which deserves – and will get – a post all its own). Learn more about the Main Street shopping area at Mainstreetevanston.org. Getting there: From lakeside Chicago: Take Lake Shore Drive north to Sheridan. Take Main Street west to Chicago Avenue. From almost anywhere else: Take I-94 to the Dempster exit. Take Dempster east to Chicago Avenue and turn right. There’s ample street parking available, and a metered parking lot just across the street from Vogue Fabrics.

Happy Exploring!

– Linda Gardner Phillips

Follow Linda on Twitter:DeerpathFarm

1 Deer Season in Central IL

Late fall is deer season in Central Illinois, and hundreds of hunters make the journey to the prairie to try their luck.  I’m not a hunter, but rest assured, the camera is always up and ready for the next great ‘shot’ when moving through the countryside. One evening, in a 30 minute drive I racked up 100 deer images. Being in rut, and with romance on their minds,  the deer aren’t at the most clear thinking critters, and so, tend to be a little more tolerant of humans. Sunrise and sunset are the prime times for catching these critters in the open.
At the end of this particular day (sun dropping fast) I happened across a doe walking the edge of the woods, very patiently pacing back and forth as if looking for a good place to jump in. I shot many, many still of her, and finally got bored with the look and switched the D3s over to video. The video is too big for this site, but you can find it on my flickr stream here:

Whitetail video

…it wasn’t until opening the images for editing later and zooming in that I realized her ‘boyfriend’ was waiting in the woods behind her, explaining her reluctance to leave.

Although rutting season tends to bring the deer out in the open more often, any time of year is great wildlife image making time on the prairie in Central Illinois.

-Ed Baumgarten