by Carl Strang
October is the main transitional month from summer to winter, and this has been evident at St. James Farm Forest Preserve. Insects continue to be active, holdouts of the warm months.
Plants shift their resources into their roots, shutting down their leaves for the coming winter drought. The process produces the color that characterizes the fall.
Though September is the peak migration month for birds that will winter in the tropics, those wintering in the southern U.S. pass through in October.
Diverse sparrows have been stuffing themselves with seeds in the prairies and meadows of St. James Farm and other preserves, fueling for their continued journey south. Others, such as kinglets, hermit thrushes and the fox sparrow shown above, feed in the forest. If the winter is mild, a few of these may hang around.