Red Squirrel Text

Furry, cute, and with a penchant for what humans generally define as mischief, the American red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) is a common visitor to backyards and local parks, making it a great animal for young naturalists to spend time observing. Squirrels move quickly, often giving the appearance of being both purposeful and a bit self-important; qualities that children tend to find irresistible and charming as they watch.

Read on to find out a bit more about American red squirrels as well as to download printable sheets of useful photos and information about them. Each Wednesday, check the bottom of the “What’s That?” post to find a PDF containing a fact sheet about the day’s featured item, as well as photographs and other resources ideal for using in a nature journal, interactive notebook, or lap book.

Red Squirrel 1-1 Red Squirrel 2-1 Red Squirrel 3-1 Red Squirrel 4-1

Some Things to Know About the American Red Squirrel

- Red squirrels are part of a group of squirrels commonly known as “pine squirrels.” Their diet consists primarily of seeds from conifer trees.

- Red squirrels can be distinguished from other squirrels by their smaller size and reddish color, as well as by their white belly fur.

- Red squirrels can swim!

- Although conifer seeds comprise the majority of a red squirrel’s diet, these squirrels are also known to eat leaves, flowers, and berries.

- These squirrels also eat mushrooms, and are known to pick mushrooms and dry them in the sun so that they can save them to eat later.

- Twice a year red squirrels lose and regrow the fur on their bodies. Their tail fur is replaced only once a year.

- In situations where a mother red squirrel has done particularly well for herself, she may gift one of her food storage locations (and its stores) to her offspring when they are ready to be independent.

Click here to download the American red squirrel nature journal resource pages to use with your own family.

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Nature From Annie

I am just popping in to say hello to those of you visiting from Instagram and to let the rest of you know about a super fun Nature Exchange happening over on IG.

If you are looking for our post about the nature exchange we hosted in the past you can find that here (scroll down for some info about how to put together your box) and some great information about sending and sharing specimens safely can be found here.

For those of you who would like to jump onboard this fun exchange you can check out Alison’s IG feed for more info. (You have to sign up by March 5th so hop on over there real quick!)

My kiddos and I are joining in, of course!

I hope you do too!

~ Dawn

Edited to add: We are not hosting this exchange. Alison is hosting it with another friend. I just wanted to promote it here because so many of you enjoyed our last nature exchange and Alison sent folks here to check out our nature exchange post. Contact Alison at naturepalexchange (at) gmail (dot) com for more information. 

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Nature In Your Neighborhood is a weekly feature that focuses on the nature that we all interact with in our everyday lives. Through the window of these posts you can catch glimpses of nature in action in locations across the country (and sometimes beyond). 

………..

Today we welcome Shelli, who shared an amazing winter experience with her boys when an ice storm came through and coated their Georgia neighborhood in ice.

From Shelli:

We woke up the morning of February 16th to a different kind of winter wonderland. None of us had ever seen anything like it. During the night it had rained, and then the temperature went below freezing.  This caused the water to freeze and encapsulate every tree limb, needle and leaf. In the breeze, the ice clinked together like wind chimes. My boys were fascinated with the sight, and I was too!
The next morning I drove into town when much of the ice was still on the trees, and it looked as if the trees were made of crystals. The morning light made them twinkle and shine so brightly I could barely see!

 

ice storm in Georgia-1-3ice storm in Georgia-1-4ice storm in Georgia-1-2ice storm in Georgia-1-5ice storm in Georgia-1ice storm in Georgia-2ice storm in Georgia-3ice storm in Georgia-4ice storm in Georgia-5

 

Thank you for sharing these stunning images, Shelli.

 

You can find more of Shelli’s photography here and read a bit more about her homeschooling adventures on her blog, Mama of Letters. Shell is also an editor over at Home/School/Life magazine. If you are interested you can check out the magazine here and sign up for their awesome free newsletter.

 

If you would like to learn more about ice storms you can take a peek at our “What’s That?” Wednesday: Freezing Rain (ice storms) post.

 

A Note About Contributing to Nature In Your Neighborhood:

Did you find a bug on the sidewalk and look it up in a guide book? Have you seen a mama or papa bird feeding babies? Are you seeing the seasons begin to change in your neighbourhood? Did you see some neat clouds and call out shapes? Did you make a habitat to observe insects? What questions did your kids ask when you found something out on your nature walk?

We would love to hear more about your experience!

If you would like to contribute please either add a photo or two with a short description to the Flickr group, post it to the Facebook Group, or shoot us an email with your photo(s) and a few sentences about your experience at: kidsandnature (at) gmail (dot) com. (Please also include your location – your state or country is fine).

We would also love to highlight photos and descriptions from young naturalist out there. If your child would like to contribute a photo of what they found, and tell us a little about it, please encourage them to do so and we will spotlight them in a “Young Naturalist” post. (Don’t worry so much about photo quality. We would love to share their work!)

We are looking forward to sharing your nature finds and continuing to encourage families to look high and low for nature all around.

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Crow text

Easily one of the most recognizable birds, crows have a rich history in superstition and folklore alike. While they are usually cast as bad omens or villainous characters (as is evident by the name of their flock: a murder) they are really quite familial and intelligent. The American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) is widely distributed across the United States, and is a bird easily recognized by even the youngest of aspiring birders.

Read on to find out a bit more about American crows as well as to download printable sheets of useful photos and information about them. Each Wednesday, check the bottom of the “What’s That?” post to find a PDF containing a fact sheet about the day’s featured item, as well as photographs and other resources ideal for using in a nature journal, interactive notebook, or lap book.

Crow 4-1Crow 9-1

Crow 10-1

Crow 5-1

Some Things to Know About American Crows

- American Crows are entirely black in color; even their beaks are black.

- Crows often live together in family groups, with young crows delaying breeding themselves for up to four years while they help care for younger siblings.

- Researchers have discovered that crows are actually capable of using tools, such as sticks, particularly when they are trying to access food that they otherwise can’t reach.

- Crows are some of the most skilled spies in the bird world; they are known to follow other birds back to their nests, which they raid for food.

- Crows are very open-minded eaters. They are known to eat everything from fruit and insects to carrion, dog food, and garbage.

- American Crows are known to work together in large groups, sometimes living in groups comprised of hundreds of thousands of birds.

- American Crows engage in a behavior called “mobbing” where they join together to run off potential predators.

- American Crow eggs are between an inch and a half and two inches long, and are greenish, with patches of grey or brown at one end.

Resources

A Murder of Crows is a wonderful look at the world of crows (full documentary online).

Click here to download the American Crow nature journal resource pages to use with your own family.

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Nature In Your Neighborhood

February 23, 2015

 

Nature In Your Neighborhood is a weekly feature that focuses on the nature that we all interact with in our everyday lives. Through the window of these posts you can catch glimpses of nature in action in locations across the country (and sometimes beyond). 

………..

  Today we bring you a taste of spring from the Pacific Northwest where Katrina and her family explore the natural world.

Snowdrops and Crocuses.

Have you been spotting any signs of spring in your neighborhood?  (It is still a very long way off for us here in Nova Scotia, but I love to see these spring previews!)

A Note About Contributing to Nature In Your Neighborhood:

Did you find a bug on the sidewalk and look it up in a guide book? Have you seen a mama or papa bird feeding babies? Are you seeing the seasons begin to change in your neighbourhood? Did you see some neat clouds and call out shapes? Did you make a habitat to observe insects? What questions did your kids ask when you found something out on your nature walk?

We would love to hear more about your experience!

If you would like to contribute please either add a photo or two with a short description to the Flickr group, post it to the Facebook Group, or shoot us an email with your photo(s) and a few sentences about your experience at: kidsandnature (at) gmail (dot) com. (Please also include your location (your state or country is fine).

We would also love to highlight photos and descriptions from young naturalist out there. If your child would like to contribute a photo of what they found, and tell us a little about it, please encourage them to do so and we will spotlight them in a “Young Naturalist” post. (Don’t worry so much about photo quality. We would love to share their work!)

We are looking forward to sharing your nature finds and continuing to encourage families to look high and low for nature all around.

 

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Nature Around the Net

February 21, 2015

Spruce hoar Frost-1

We found some neat links to share this week. Enjoy!

- Spanish Traders Shipped Tropical Fire Arts Worldwide Nearly 500 Years Ago.

- This is a fascinating interview about wolf research and conservation (includes a link to a learning guide).

- Did you know snowflakes are minerals?

- A new species of ichthyosaur?

Have you found any neat nature links lately? Please share in the comments or on our Facebook Group.

Happy Weekend Exploring!

Dawn & Annie

 

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Downy Woodpecker text

 Often seen before they are heard, Downy Woodpeckers (Picoides pubescens) are common visitors at backyard feeders. With their striking colors and patterning, downy woodpeckers are easily spotted, although their similarity to the larger hairy woodpecker can sometimes make them tricky to identify for novice birders. This makes them a great bird for young birders to get to know well- think of it as a surefire way to boost their birding confidence.

Read on to find out a bit more about Downy Woodpeckers as well as to download printable sheets of useful photos and information about them. Each Wednesday, check the bottom of the “What’s That?” post to find a PDF containing a fact sheet about the day’s featured item, as well as photographs and other resources ideal for using in a nature journal, interactive notebook, or lap book.

Downy Woodpecker 2-1

Downy Woodpecker 1-1Downy Woodpecker 3-1

Some Things to Know About Downy Woodpeckers

- The distinctive red patch on the back of the Downy Woodpecker’s head is unique to the males of the species; female Downy Woodpeckers have a white patch in its place.

- On juvenile Downy Woodpeckers, the entire top of the head is red as well.

- The Downy Woodpecker is widely distributed across the United States, and can be found in almost every location.

- Downy woodpeckers are primarily insectivores, eating larvae and small insects that they find under tree bark or in pieces of wood. Hence the need to peck it!

- If you are looking to draw Downy Woodpeckers to a backyard feeder near you, try filling the feeder with black oil sunflower seeds.

- Downy Woodpecker pairs nest in dead or dying trees, working as a team to excavate nest holes where they will lay a clutch of three to eight small, white eggs.

Click here here to download the Downy Woodpecker nature journal resource pages to use with your own family.

 

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GBBC

Today is the first day of The Great Backyard Bird Count!

The snow is coming down heavy here but we have already spotted Chickadees, a downy woodpecker, juncos, herring gulls and crows.

We have participated in this great citizen science project for a few years now and always find it to be a fun and a super easy way for the kids to be involved in helping scientists gain important information about bird populations. There have already been over 1300 species reported just since the start of the bird count this morning. That is very exciting and the kids love watching the numbers grow on the website!

Downy Woodpecker 4-1

If you are interested in participating (even for just a day) you can find more information here. When you sign up they provide lots of great links to information about birds and bird identification.

We are also going to be sharing our lists over in the Mud Puddles to Meteors Facebook Group if you would like to join in just add your numbers to the GBBC post!

Happy Bird Watching!

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On the Shelf: Animalium

February 7, 2015

animalium

Thanks to a couple of local book sales, there has been an influx of awesome new animal and nature books around here lately. One particular favorite among the new acquisitions is Animalium by Katie Scott and Jenny Broom. Ostensibly written for kids, there is a good argument that this book is one of those rare titles that fits into the category of “family books.” In other words, one of those special books that people of any age will find visually appealing and full of interesting information about the wide variety of amazing creatures sharing planet Earth with us humans.

A large format book with sprawling pages and beautiful illustrations, Animalium presents itself as a sort of natural history museum that can be laid across your lap. Each section of the book is listed in the table of contents as its own “gallery” and contains information and illustrations about related animals and their unique adaptations. The charming illustrations themselves are reminiscent of field guides and nature study books of a bygone era, while the associated text reflects just how much more we understand about the animal world in modern times. An early drawing in the book illustrates the animal tree of life and the sometimes surprising evolutionary relationships between various groups of animals.

Animalium is a relatively new book, published just last year, and may be a bit difficult to locate at your local library. That being said, it is such an unusual and well-executed examination of the animal kingdom that it isn’t much of a stretch at all to say that this is one book worth finding a copy of and keeping on your coffee table for kids and grown-ups alike to browse for a long time to come.

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Nature In Your Neighborhood is a weekly feature that focuses on the nature that we all interact with in our everyday lives. Through the window of these posts you can catch glimpses of nature in action in locations across the country (and sometimes beyond). 

………..

Today we bring you a little taste of Texas.  Wendy is a regular contributor to the Flickr group and recently had some wonderful encounters at the Aranses National Wild Life Refuge.

Whooping Crane Family

Armadillo

Up close and Personal, Texas Rat Snake

Goose Island Oak

Snoozing gator

Thank you for your wonderful contribution to the Flickr group, Wendy!

You can see more photos from Wendy’s visit on her Flickr page here.

 

A Note About Contributing to Nature In Your Neighborhood:

Did you find a bug on the sidewalk and look it up in a guide book? Have you seen a mama or papa bird feeding babies? Are you seeing the seasons begin to change in your neighbourhood? Did you see some neat clouds and call out shapes? Did you make a habitat to observe insects? What questions did your kids ask when you found something out on your nature walk?

We would love to hear more about your experience!

If you would like to contribute please either add a photo or two with a short description to the Flickr group, post it to the Facebook Group, or shoot us an email with your photo(s) and a few sentences about your experience at: kidsandnature (at) gmail (dot) com. (Please also include your location (your state or country is fine).

We would also love to highlight photos and descriptions from young naturalist out there. If your child would like to contribute a photo of what they found, and tell us a little about it, please encourage them to do so and we will spotlight them in a “Young Naturalist” post. (Don’t worry so much about photo quality. We would love to share their work!)

We are looking forward to sharing your nature finds and continuing to encourage families to look high and low for nature all around.

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