Just like taking Disco Hikes and becoming a Square Foot Naturalist, doing scavenger hunts can help you and your kids develop your nature awareness. By repeatedly asking your eyes, ears, and brain to notice new things, you can begin to develop new habits and patterns connected to being in the natural world. Like I mentioned, I am seeing mushrooms everywhere recently. A couple of weeks ago I went on a great mushroom walk with one of the local mushroom experts and then attended two lectures on mushroom identification. As a result of spending just about 6 hours learning about local fungi in my area, I now see them everywhere! Even while driving! It does not take much to your brain to notice new things and patterns.
So here is the first What's Out There Scavenger Hunt. Take this list and head outside and see what you find!
1) Something older than you.
2) Something with three or more colors (natural colors).
3) Something that smells good.
4) Sounds that a tree makes.
5) A bird flying in the wind.
6) A bird track.
7) An animal that likes moist areas.
8) A bird nest.
9) Signs of animals having eaten something.
10) A leaf that has lobes.
11) A place where an animal can sit in the sun.
12) Things that could be used to insulate an animals nest.
13) An example of erosion.
14) A plant that could be used as tinder to start a fire.
15) A place where you could hide from the wind.
Once you have headed out to do this scavenger hunt, keep in mind you might not find all the items in one outing, try and do the hunt in another area such as a park or even downtown. You could even keep this list with you in the car so you can mark off items when you see them. This is the first of many scavenger hunts we will do. If you have ideas of things to add to an upcoming list, please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As winter approaches in North America many of us get ready for much colder weather and possibly a good deal of snow fall (if you are lucky). While we get ready for winter so does much of the animal kingdom. Some animals spend the winter months either hibernating or in torpor. Many folks ask what is the difference between the two. So I am going to clear it up the best I can.
Traditionally hibernation simply meant a state of inactivity and metabolic depression in animals, characterized by lower body temperature, slower breathing, and lower metabolic rate, and applied equally to frogs, bears, bats, and insects regardless of their body temperatures or activity levels. Most animals that traditionally were considered to be hibernating are actually in torpor. Torpor- or false hibernation- is a state of inactivity achieved primarily-but not exclusively- by a greatly lowered body temperature and can last for a few hours to months. For frogs, snakes-(Rattlesnakes and copperheads), woodchucks, ground squirrels, bats, and bears, settling in for the winter in various ways is the key to winter survival.
nimals that go into torpor are raccoons, skunks, and some mice and birds