Unknown Illinois | WGLT

Unknown Illinois

Mary Jo Adams

Two years ago, a female eagle was found shot dead in Normal. Her mate soon died -- killed apparently by another bird. Then their three orphaned eagles died. Bird watchers feared it would be the end of eagles in McLean County. But there is good news.

A new pair of the white-topped, hooked-beak creatures has taken up residence in the nest the dead eagles left behind and they are raising three eaglets there.

Sherrie Snyder

Two miles east of the city limits of Bloomington, not far from Ireland Grove Road and  at the origin of Kickapoo Creek, are 85 acres of restored prairie known as "The Grove."

The Grove is part of unique project in Illinois that combined construction of a housing subdivision with a prairie restoration.

Woodpeckers Enjoy Ash Borers

Mar 25, 2016
Carole Zimmerman / Flickr via Creative Commons

Experts believe an invasive beetle is responsible for an increase in sightings of an elusive woodpecker species in the western Chicago suburbs.

United States Air Corps / Suncoast Technical College via Creative Commons

Champaign County is celebrating its status as the birthplace the Tuskegee Airmen. Four road signs entering the County now signify the area’s ties to the African American pilots who flew in World War Two. The Tuskegee Airmen were initially known as the ‘99th Pursuit Squadron.’ The group started at the former Chanute Air Force Base in 1941 before training in Alabama. Thursdays at the Urbana National Guard Armory recognized their efforts.

Natural History Survey

Microscopes and specimen trays sit atop several long, rectangular tables in this windowless lab at the offices of the Illinois Natural History Survey in Champaign. A row of metal buckets lines the floor. Each bucket brims with what look like brown stones.

These are no ordinary stones. These jagged rocks are both precious and ancient. They contain amber-encased insect fossils, some of them as old as 20 million years.

Tim Lindenbaum

Bird watchers are out these days looking for visitors from the Arctic and other far northern territories that are wintering in central Illinois. Those birds include snow buntings, Lapland longspurs and the horned lark. No winter bird is more sought after than the snowy owl, made famous by Hedwig, Harry Potter's trusty messenger bird. In another of our occasional series on Unknown Illinois,

The clock is ticking down on the number of days left to visit one of the foremost Native American archeological sites in the U.S. The Dickson Mounds Museum in Lewistown, IL is scheduled to close under Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposed budget cuts. Archeologist Alan Harn has spent the past 53 years studying the Native American human remains and artifacts there for clues about these early settlers.

The stone house with the wrap-around porch and large turret is a fixture off Old Route 66 in Lexington. Locals know it as "The Castle." It's the home of longtime residents Chuck Wright (pictured) and his wife, Mary. The Wrights have spent 30 years restoring the residence. Now they are working to turn their property into a carnival-like venue for special events, complete with a restored carousel. In another of our occasional series on Unknown Illinois, GLT's Judy Valente takes you to the play land the Wrights are trying to create in the heart of Lexington.

Judith Valente

The great autumn bird migration has begun. Bird watchers are out in force looking for species traveling south from Canada to winter spots in Mexico and central America. In another of our occasional series on "Unknown Illinois," Audubon Society member Matt Winks (pictured) takes us on a trek through Bloomington, Illinois' Ewing II Park in search of singing warblers.

Mary Jo Adams

A gunshot rings out on a farm just outside of Normal. Conservation police soon find a female bald eagle wounded in a field. The bird receives emergency treatment, but cannot rebound. For Mary Jo Adams, an Illinois master naturalist, news of the eagle's death is particularly devastating.

"It just kind of breaks my heart to see the nest empty now when we should be seeing one to three eaglets poking their heads out."