After a cold and snowy winter, the Forest Preserves of Cook County are offering a cure for cabin fever. In addition to daily programs at the six Nature Centers; the spring season also includes a number of special events taking place in locations throughout the county. All events are family-friendly and free.
New this year is a free Nature Express bus from Forest Preserve headquarters in River Forest (536 N. Harlem Ave.) to select programs in the preserves. Space on the bus is free, but must be reserved in advance by visiting www.fpdcc.com/natureexpress or call (708) 771-1189.
For a complete list of spring events in the Forest Preserve District, visit www.fpdcc.com/events. All events are free unless otherwise noted.
Maple Syrup Celebration: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, March 23, River Trail Nature Center, 3120 N. Milwaukee Ave., Northbrook. Crafts, games, tree tapping and maple syrup history.
Rolling Knolls Forest Fun Day: Noon-4 p.m. Saturday, April 5, Rolling Knolls Forest Preserve, 11N260 Rohrssen Road, Elgin. Discover what's coming to Rolling Knolls, the newest location for fun and learning. Disc golf, archery, nature play and more.
Earth Day Parks and Preserves Cleanup: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, April 26, Whistler Woods, 480 Acme Drive, Riverdale. Help clean up the preserves in the morning, and then celebrate with activities, recycling, hikes and more. Register at earthdaychicago.com.
Spring Festival: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, May 4, Trailside Museum of Natural History, 738 Thatcher Ave., River Forest. Celebrate spring with a day of activities for all ages, including guided hikes, dip netting, a meet-and-greet with our newest animal, animal encounters, craft corner and more.
International Migratory Bird Day: Noon-4 p.m. Saturday, May 10, Crabtree Nature Center, 3 Stover Road, Barrington Hills. Celebrate the return of birds to their breeding range with an afternoon of activities.
The Photo Meet-Ups series is designed for photographers of all skill levels. Each gathering features a naturalist leading a brief tour of the area, highlighting interesting and unusual plants, scenic vistas and locations frequented by wildlife. During and after the tour, photographers can capture images and share tips and suggestions for getting the best shot.
• March 22, 10 a.m., Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center, 9800 S. Willow Spring Road, Willow Springs.
• April 26, 10 a.m., River Trail Nature Center, 3120 N. Milwaukee Ave., Northbrook. Meet at the nature center before traveling to nearby photo location.
• May 24, 10 a.m., Grassy Ridge Meadow, 1182 W. Central Road, Hoffman Estates. Meet in the parking lot. Hosted by Crabtree Nature Center.
On the water
Skokie Lagoons Spring Birding Paddle: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, May 10, Tower Road Boat Launch, between Dundee and Willow roads, east of I-94, Northfield. Celebrate Migratory Bird Day by joining a bird expert out on the water. Guides and binoculars available. Canoe instruction provided.