MammalsThere are many mammals woven within the ecosystems of Kane County, some you may see often, while others are more reclusive. Mammals can be herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores. Some mammals are predators and others are prey. Mammals in Kane County live their lives in the water, on land, and some even take to the sky! Mammals play various roles in the food chain. Without a variety of mammals, our local ecosystems would drastically change and food webs would be interrupted. Herbivores such as mice and rabbits would have population booms without carnivorous predators such as coyotes. Omnivorous mammals such as opossum and raccoon are important pest control and seed spreaders. In Kane County, certain species of mammals are active year round, some hibernate in the winter and others migrate.
What is a mammal?A mammal is a warm blooded vertebrate that posses hair or fur, the females secrete milk as nourishment for their young and (typically) birth live young. Mammals evolved about 200 million years ago and there are approximately 5,416 species worldwide. Some common mammals of Kane County are highlighted below:
- Bats (13 species live in Illinois)
- Raccoon (Procyon lotor)
- Tree Squirrels (3 species of tree squirrels are common in Kane County)
- Eastern Cottontail Rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus)
- Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana)
- Beaver (Castor canadensis)
BirdsThere are over 250 species of birds that have been observed in Kane County, some of which are common, such as the American Robin, and some are very uncommon, often dubbed as a “lifer bird”, such as the Loggerhead Shrike. The population of birds in Kane County has changed over time as landscapes and ecosystems have been altered by humans. Some species have been able to adapt and survive to these changes, others, such as the Loggerhead Shrike, have seen their populations decrease in our area. You don’t have to look too hard to find a bird in Kane County. They live in our backyards, forests, prairies and wetlands; they hunt along roadsides and wade in bodies of water. Some are present year-round while others partake in long migrations during spring and fall. Our local birds fill many roles such as pollinators and rodent control. Each species is unique and serves an important role within the ecosystem. The Kane County Audubon has a Species Checklist which you can take with you on hikes as a challenge to see or hear them all.
What is a bird?Birds are warm blooded vertebrates that poses feathers and wings, a toothless beaked jaw and lay hard-shelled eggs. Birds evolved about 150 million years ago and there are approximately 10,000 species of birds worldwide. Some common bird species of Kane County are highlighted below:
- Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)
- Brown Creeper (Certhia Americana)
- Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)
- Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)
- Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)
- American Robin (Turdus migratorius)
- Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
- Mallard Anas platyrhynchos)
ReptilesAccording to the Illinois Natural History Survey, there are 14 documented species of reptiles in Kane County. They slither and crawl in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. In the warm months you may be fortunate to see a turtle basking on a log or a snake slithering across your yard. Often feared and highly misunderstood, reptiles perform essential functions in our ecosystem, such as predators to small mammals such as mice.
What is a reptile?Reptiles are cold blooded vertebrates that poses scales or scutes and lay shelled eggs. Reptiles evolved about 320 million years ago and there are approximately 10,700 species of reptiles worldwide. Some common reptile species of Kane County are highlighted below:
- Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentine)
- Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta)
- Blanding’s Turtle (Emydoidea blandingii)
- Pond Slider (Trachemys scripta)
- Common Gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis)
- Milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum)
- Common Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon)
- Dekay’s Brownsnake (Storeria dekayi)
AmphibiansThey serenade us in the spring and summer and are indicators of water quality. In Kane County, amphibian diversity is low due to habitat loss and pollution. All our residents begin their lives in the water. Some adults remain in the water for the majority of their lives, while others take on a terrestrial lifestyle, only returning to the water to breed.
What is an amphibian?Amphibian are cold blooded vertebrates that lay unshelled eggs, have permeable skin, are carnivorous when adults, and have an aquatic gill-breathing larval stage followed (typically) by a terrestrial lung-breathing adult stage. Amphibians evolved about 370 million years ago and there are approximately 7,000 known species worldwide. Some amphibian species of Kane County are highlighted below:
- Pickerel Frog (Lithobates palustris)
- American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus)
- Eastern Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinu)
- American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus)
- Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis & Hyla versicolor)
- Northern Leopard Frog (Lithobates pipiens)
- Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer)
- Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata)
InvertebratesAre all invertebrates “bugs”? Are all “bugs” disease carrying pests? The short answer, no. While some inverts carry diseases such as ticks and mosquitos, far more play important roles in our ecosystems such as pollinators, scavengers and pest insect control.
What is an invertebrate?An invertebrate is an animal without a backbone. Invertebrates fall into 5 categories: protozoans, annelids, echinoderms, mollusks and arthropods. Our focus is on arthropods. Did you know we occasionally get calls about injured butterflies and moths?
What is an arthropod?Arthropods are invertebrates with an exoskeleton, segmented body and paired jointed appendages. These are your insects, spiders and crustaceans. To learn more about invertebrates of Kane County, visit the following links.
- Fermilab Butterfly Table
- Field Museum Dragonfly Guide
- Insect Identification
- Field Museum Butterfly Guide 1
- Field Museum Butterfly Guide 2