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Video: 'It's a supermodel as far as plants go'
Prairie Pasqueflower is just barely hanging on in Illinois, at Bell Bowl Prairie
It wasn’t that long ago, really just a few thousand years, that most of Illinois was covered in ice sheets. As the glaciers receded, they left all sorts of subtle yet interesting landforms and miniature ecosystems. Grasses and forbs took root in these rocky parcels, often plants of the western prairies.
That’s the case at Bell Bowl Prairie, a state natural area on the grounds of the Chicago-Rockford International Airport. It’s an 8,000-year-old remnant prairie that includes five acres of high-quality gravel prairie. It’s one of the only places in Illinois where Prairie Pasqueflower will be poking up through the rugged substrate by the time you read this edition of This Week in Birding. It’s also known as one of the better places in northern Illinois to find rarities like Blue Grosbeak and Loggerhead Shrike, as well as a complement of grassland birds such as Bobolink, Dickcissel, and Grasshopper Sparrow.
As a faithful reader of TWiB, you know that Bell Bowl Prairie is under threat of destruction as the airport plans a road for increased cargo.
Performance poet and advocate Robb Telfer joined me recently to share some botanical highlights from the prairie (watch the below video). Birding isn’t just about birds. It’s about studying all of one’s surroundings in the natural world, from plants to fungi, invertebrates to crustaceans, geology, weather and more. Robb discusses why this prairie is so important and can’t be replicated. Pasqueflower is a native plant just barely clinging to its previous range in the Prairie State.
“It’s just this beautiful little crocus-y type deal,” Robb says of the pasqueflower. “It’s just awesome. It’s definitely a supermodel as far as plants go.”
To stay involved with saving Bell Bowl Prairie, please visit the Save Bell Bowl Prairie website.