International Migratory Bird Day is celebrated each year, and this year a celebratory event at Glacial Park in Ringwood, IL caught Linda’s interest. She brought her camera and captured some of the event, where service staff at the park set up mist nets to capture songbirds for banding and release. The event was sponsored by Friends of Hackmatack Wildlife Refuge, in the interest of public education about this brand new national reserve.

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The National Wildlife Refuge System has been in the making for over 100 years, setting aside natural areas to protect precious resources. Hackmatack Wildlife Refuge, officially established as a refuge in November 2012, is truly a lesson in how a grassroots dream can achieve success. The idea began with a group of friends chatting together, and imagining how a refuge could be created in this unique area, where land has been shaped by glaciers. Prairie, oak savanna, bog and marsh form a place where 40 state endangered and threatened plant and animal species can thrive.

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On this beautiful spring day, songbirds were gently netted, and cautiously handled by experienced service wildlife biologists. The National Wildlife Refuge System mascot, the big blue goose, was on hand to welcome area children, who watched the process intently and smiled as the birds were set free.