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The more you know, the more you see

The natural environment speaks to us, but only when we understand its language.

For those who want to understand what Orland Grassland can tell us, here is a short list of resources.


For even more information, search the Internet, visit your local public library, or spend some time at Chicago's wonderful Field Museum of Natural History.

The last Ice Age, pre-history,
and the years before settlement

Anderson, Ders. "Prehistory to 1830." The Orland Story: From Prairie to Pavement. By Orland Heritage Book Association Orland Park: Orland Heritage Book Association, Inc. 1991. 1-23.

The recommended chapter is specifically about the Orland area from the last Ice Age to the establishment of Native American cultures, to the arrival of the first European trappers, traders, and explorers. The book is available at the Orland Park Public Library. It also may be purchased at Orland Park Village Hall.

Greenberg, Joel. "The Great Forces." A Natural History of the Chicago Region. Chicago: U of Chicago Press. 2002. 1-15.

Besides this chapter on glaciers, this book also explains the past and present of prairies (Ch. 2 and 3), wetlands (Ch. 6), and a variety of local wildlife (Ch. 11-15). It is available at the Orland Park Public Library and local and onlne booksellers.

"Quaternary Glaciations in Illinois" Illinois State Geological Survey. Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois.

This web page that offers an accessible, illustrated explanation of how glaciers gave us the landforms we have today, including the moraines near and on which the Orland area is situated. The page is to just one part of a large and interesting website that is well worth exploring.

Village of Orland Park History Museum, 14415 S. Beacon Ave., Orland Park. Open to the public 9 a.m. - 1 p.m., Thursdays and Saturdays and from noon to 3 p.m. the second Sunday of each month. Free admission.

The museum has an extensive collection of prehistoric tools, all collected in the Orland area. It also offers an exhibit on Orland Grassland.

Wiggers, Raymond. Geology Underfoot in Illinois. Missoula, Montana: Mountain Press Publishing Co. 1997.

Of special interest is Chapter 14, "Blue Island Bracketed: Chicago's South Side," which explains how the land south of Chicago was shaped by geological forces. This entertainingly written book is available at the Orland Park Public Library. It remains in print and may be purchased from book stores or online booksellers.

Prairie and Wetlands

Defenders of Wildlife. "Basic Facts About Wetlands."

If you can spare only a minute or so, this fact sheet summarizes what we know and why we should care about wetlands.

National Geographic Society: Encyclopedia.  "Prairie."

This page on the Society's website offers a fairly comprehensive discussion of the prairie and links to even more resources. The page includes gorgeous photography.

Randle, Kent. "Soil Formation in America's Prairies." Discovery Education. A YouTube video.

This engaging video beautifully explains the unseen elements of prairie ecology in less than six minutes.

Robertson, Ken. "The Tallgrass Prairie in Illinois." Kenneth R. Robertson.

Robertson is a botanist, retired from the Illiois Natural History Survey. His entire website is worth a look.

Watts, May Theilgaard. "Prairie Plowing Match or The Making and Breaking of the Tall Grass Sod." Reading the Landscape: An Adventure in Ecology. New York: Macmillan. Sixth Printing. 1966. 17-49.

This delightful book, part of a series, is written by a former naturalist at the Morton Arboretum. It is a must for anyone interested in the prairie as well as plant life in many different biosystems. The recommended chapter discusses the history of the Illinois praire and offers tips on how to spot its remnants on roadsides and at the edge of farm fields. The Orland Park Public Library doesn't have this book, but can obtain it for you from another library. It also is available from online booksellers.

World Wildlife Foundation. "Habitats: Wetlands."

This website discusses wetland as a crucial habitat for mammals, fish, birds, and invertebrates and also as a critical element in human community life. You'll learn that more than a billion peole make a living from wetlands and discover the role wetlands play in flood control, water filtration, and storm protection.

Flora and Fauna

Bull, John, and John Farrand, Jr. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds: Eastern Region. Revised edition. New York:Knopf. 1994.

This book, with its relatively small dimensions and sturdy covers, is designed to be carried into the field. It's just one of the Audubon Society series of field guides that help the user indentify—among many other living things—trees, insects and spiders, wildflowers, mushrooms, and butterflies. This and other Audubon field guides are avalaible from online booksellers, bookstores, and the Orland Park Public Library.

Canisius Ambassadors for Conservation. "Prairie Wildlife."

This page links to other pages explaining how certain birds and mammals adapted to the harsh prairie environment.

Evans, Howard Ensign. Pioneer Naturalists: The Discovery and Naming of North American Plants and Animals. New York: Holt. 1993.

This charming book is for those who enjoy both nature and history. The author blends natural science, tales of exploration, and the history of ideas about nature to engagingly capture the adventure of discovering new plants and animals. Sadly, the book is hard to find; it seems to be available only through online booksellers. Evans has written other nature books that the Orland Park Public Library can order from other libraries; some can be purchased at bookstores or online.   

Fisher, Chris G. and David B. Johnson. Birds of Chicago, Including NE Illinois and NW Indiana. Renton WA: Lone Pine. 1998.

This slim book is a great help to beginning birders, including youngsters. It includes detailed color illustrations, helpful descriptions, and a lengthy checklist. The book is available from the Orland Park Public Library and online booksellers and bookstores.

Forshaw, Joseph, Steve Howell, Terrence Lindsey, and Rich Stallcup. A Guide to Birding. San Francisco: Fog City Press. Reprint 2005.

This lavishly illustrated book is crammed with useful information for novice backyard or in-the-field birders. It is sold by online booksellers. A different edition of the book, published by Time-Life, is available at the Orland Park Public Library.

Hilty, John. "Prairie Wildflowers of Illinois."

This is just one page in Dr. Hilty's extensive website  devoted to Illinois wildflowers. Photographs accompany descriptions of hundreds of plants.

Peterson, Roger Tory, and Margaret McKenny. Wildflowers: Northeastern/North-Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 1998.

This sturdy little book is one in of a large series of Peterson field guides. The Peterson guides are especially notable, because some are aimed at advanced users. This and other books in the Peterson series are available at bookstores and online booksellers. The Orland Park Public Library offers many of the Peterson field guides, but not this one; OPPL can obtain it for you from another library. 

Tilton, Lois. "Grasses of the Tallgrass Prairie."

This web page provides a photo tour of Illinois prairie grasses, a great help to identifying grassy plants you'll see throughout Orland Grassland.

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