Turkey Talk

By: Annalie Mallon

Happy Friday Nature Nuts!

The end of our fall teaching season is quickly approaching us here at the Delaware Nature Society and we have been busy busy busy! What have you all been enjoying most about this beautiful fall season? I personally love the warm fall colors. Check out this photo Erynn took at Flint Woods Preserve last week. The leaves were poppin!

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Flint Woods Preserve photo by Erynn

I think a lot of us can agree that one of the most exciting things about autumn is THANKSGIVING! What is not to love about gathering with family around a table full of delicious food??

We all know how the Thanksgiving tradition started with the Native Americans and Pilgrims, but does anyone know why this whole day is mostly dedicated to a big colorful bird? Seriously, what is so special about turkeys? My pal Tom the turkey and I did some research to find out exactly why we eat turkey on thanksgiving and found some pretty interesting things! (Tom sits next to me at work and likes to distract me on a daily basis).

So while you are stuffing your face full of stuffing this Thanksgiving, here are some fun facts about that big bird on the table.

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Annalie and Tom the Turkey having a chat

To begin our turkey quest, Tom and I discovered something about the first Thanksgiving that we think is pretty interesting; although the Pilgrims and Native Americans sat down and shared a meal together, they may not have actually eaten turkey! Historians believe that they most likely ate deer meat, chickens, and beef. Eating turkey on Thanksgiving did not become a popular thing until Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863. Since turkeys are birds big enough for an entire family to share, VOILA Happy Turkey Day!

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This picture is apparently FALSE

Did you know that the wild turkey was once so common and so well thought of in America that it was considered a choice for our national bird over the Bald Eagle? Benjamin Franklin thought it was a “much more respectable bird” than the Bald Eagle! Tom 10/10 agrees with Ben and is still a little bitter that he is not our countries symbol.

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Tom showing his Patriotic side

Wild turkeys can run at speeds up to 25 miles per hour and fly up to 55 mph! WOAH that’s as fast as your car sometimes drives on the highway! Tom on the other hand does not like to run or fly much, rather he spends most of his time answering emails and doing desk work.

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Tom checking his favorite news site: Turkey Times

Male turkeys are called “gobblers” because of the gobble calls they make to attract females. This call can be heard up to a mile away! (Speaking of gobble, if the gobble noise on this post has gotten annoying yet, just scroll down and turn it off. hehe).

A group of turkeys has many interesting names including a “flock,” “crop,” or “gang.” My favorite is definitely a turkey gang. Don’t mess with Toms turkey gang, they have serious golf tournaments.

DAVID ZALAZNIK/JOURNAL STAR A group of male turkeys in full springtime display tries to get the attention of a seemingly disinterested female along Grandview Drive in Peoria. The male turkeys walk with feathers puffed out and splayed wide with their facial coloring becoming pronounced in an effort to attract females.

Turkey Gang by David Zalaznik

Last but not least, my favorite fact about turkeys: You can tell the difference between a male and a female turkey from their poop! You heard me, their poop! A male’s will be shaped like the letter “J” and a female’s will be more of a spiral shape. TOTALLY WEIRD RIGHT?! Tom is very embarrassed and upset that I shared this fact with you all and is now hiding somewhere in the nature center.

Well friends, that’s all the turkey facts I have for today!

I hope everyone has a wonderful and delicious Thanksgiving dinner with the people they love! Remember to #take5outside, trot like a turkey, and enjoy the remaining fall colors.

P.s. I found Tom..

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Tom hiding under Erynns desk

 

Meet the New Intern!

Hey Nature Lovers!

Now that school is back in full swing I think it’s time for me to introduce myself. My name is Erynn DeGennaro and I am the new education intern at Ashland for the 2016-2017 year! I’m very excited that I get to post on the Kids Nature Blog. The Kids Nature Blog is your place to “Ask a naturalist” any nature questions you have, stay up to date on current nature events, and see all the cool things kids like you have been up to at our sites! Be sure to check out our “Program Spotlight” to see how you can get involved too!

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Video by Annalie Mallon. Grab your binoculars and look out for more blog posts by Erynn!

My favorite time of the year has started! Fall started on September 22nd, and some exciting signs of Fall have already started to show. Here are just a few of my favorite things about Fall.

Fall Favorite #1:

Did you know that every year thousands of hawks leave their breeding grounds in the north to fly south in search of warmer weather? During the Fall you may have noticed lots of hawks flying over your house. This is called the Fall migration. Along the East Coast there are a few sites dedicated to counting all the hawks that participate in this raptor run. We are lucky to have one of these sites right here at Ashland Nature Center! Every Fall, Hawk Watch Hill transforms into a bird watching extravaganza. I love walking up to see all the excitement surrounding our big feathered friends!

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Photo by Erynn DeGennaro. Hawk Watch Intern, Hannah Greenberg looks through the scope on a beautiful fall day.

 

Fall Favorite #2

Birds aren’t the only animals that migrate during the fall. My favorite insect does too! Monarch Butterflies are the only butterflies that migrate like birds do. How neat is that? Since Monarchs can’t overwinter like other insects they move south towards Southern California and Mexico. In the early fall I love going out and seeing if I can spot a Monarch around Ashland.

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Photo by Annalie Mallon. A Monarch butterfly hangs out on a flower in the sunlight.

Fall Favorite #3

One of my favorite things about Ashland in the fall is all of the colors that appear. During the fall you can see Ashland turn from green to orange, red, brown, and yellow. The leaves aren’t the only things changing though. Goldenrod’s sunny yellow is common to see during hikes through the meadow. I love Goldenrod because not only is it pretty, its useful too! Goldenrod is often used for medicine!

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Photo by Erynn DeGennaro. The bright yellow flowers on Goldenrod stand out among a sea of brown and green.

 

Tell us about your favorite things about Fall in the comments!

Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer Camp!

By: Annalie Mallon

Hey there nature lovers! I hope everyone has been having a wonderful summer and is looking forward to the start of another school year!

Here at the Delaware Nature Society we have just finished up with TEN WHOLE WEEKS of summer camps! Between June 13 and August 19, Ashland Nature Center, Coverdale Farm Preserve, Dupont Environmental Education Center, and Abbott’s Mill Nature Center had a whole summer filled with 131 camps of outdoor fun and adventures. There was hiking, kayaking, getting muddy, building forts, catching bugs, making crafts, casting spells, playing in streams, caring for animals, and so much more!

Below are a few of my favorite highlights from the camps I was lucky enough to help out with for these past ten weeks – Enjoy!

Fun with Fishing: We visited the ponds at Coverdale Farm Preserve, Lums Pond State Park, Papermill Park, Becks Pond, Carousel Park and more! There were a lot of tangled lines and hooks in my fingers, but we caught SO MANY FISH!

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Fishing At Coverdale Pond, June 2016

Kayak Club: We practiced our skills and kayaked in places like the Octorara Reservoir, Dragon’s Run Marsh, and the Brandywine River! My favorite part of the week was kayaking through the marsh and then stopping for Ice Cream in Delaware City 😀

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Kayaking at Dragon Run Marsh, June 2016

Outdoor Adventures and Videography: We spent the week fishing, rock climbing, canoeing, and doing archery to get some AWESOME pictures and video footage that was later used to create action films!

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Campers take on the Delaware Rock Gym, June 2016

Wizards and Lizards: One of my favorite camps this summer (mainly because I’m secretly a huge Harry Potter nerd), I got the chance to teach Caring for Creatures Class and introduce campers to a variety of animals – both magical and real! I also enjoyed watching the Quidditch matches and was very happy to cheer on Gryffindor as their head of house!

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Wizards and Lizards campers learn about serpents, July 2016

Ashland Safari: For the last week of summer camp I led a group of 5 and 6 year old campers on a safari around Ashland Nature Center. We learned about reptiles, amphibians, birds, and insects and then explored different habitats to find them all!

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Ashland Safari campers searching for Insects in the Meadow, August 2016

It was a very fun filled but tiring summer! I enjoyed going on so many adventures and getting the chance to meet so many awesome campers, counselors, interns and instructors.

If you haven’t already, check out our camp facebook page with a parent or guardian for more pictures and camp stories! https://www.facebook.com/DelawareNatureSocietySummerCamp

Were you involved in any of our summer camps? If so, what were your favorites??? Comment below to share your memories and experiences with us!

🌻🌻🌻

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Annalie caught a fish, June 2016

 

It’s Spring Family Campout Time!

By: Annalie Mallon

Happy Monday Nature Lovers!

How has everyone been enjoying this beautiful spring weather? We here at the Delaware Nature Society have started teaching our spring programs and there are new and exciting things to find outside every day!

See if you can recognize any of the amazing things we have found below…

☀ These funny looking squiggles of little black dots are eggs that were laid in the marsh last month. Who do you think might have laid them?

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Photo by Annalie Mallon

An Eastern American toad! The eggs recently hatched and there are now thousands of tiny toad tadpoles swimming around in the marsh!

☀ Here is a Water Snake found during one of our Spring Amphibians programs. (Although he is a reptile and not an amphibian, we were still very excited to see him basking in the sun!)

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Photo By Annalie Mallon

☀ Can you guess who left these cute little tracks in the mud next to one of our creeks?

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Photo By Annalie Mallon

They’re from a Raccoon! Raccoons are known to wash their food in the water before eating it!

 

☀ Do you see who I see camouflaged in this vernal pool? (A vernal pool is like a small pond that is usually only filled during the spring season due to melted winter snow and spring rain. Frogs and toads love to lay their eggs here because there are few predators to bother them!)

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Photo By Annalie Mallon

Its a Northern Green Frog!

 

☀ Finally, check out this beautiful Skunk Cabbage that has popped up all over our wetland areas. Be careful not to step on it though, if the leaves rip the plant lets off a stinky smell similar to a skunk! (This keeps animals from eating it but also attracts flies to pollinate its flowers!)

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Photo By Annalie Mallon

Would you and your family be interested in discovering some of these things during a whole weekend of fun? Join us this Saturday, April 30, from 5 pm to Sunday, May 1, 10 am for a spring family campout at Bucktoe Creek Preserve!

Enjoy nighttime and morning hikes through the forest and fields to find who’s out there hooting and croaking. We will provide a fun snack for the evening campfire, and a breakfast. Bring your own bag dinner. Use your tent, borrow ours, or stay in an Adirondack shelter. Family registration includes all members of a single household.

Register HERE or call (302) 239-2334

Members: $30 per household, $15 per individual; Others: $45 per household; $20 per individual
Meets at Bucktoe Creek Preserve, 432 Sharp Road, Avondale, PA 19311

Seven Simple Ways to Celebrate Spring!

By Trudyann Buckley

As the air gets warmer, we Interns are busy setting up a storybook adventure that you can come visit in April and May! A storybook walk is a trail that has pages of a book posted along the way, so you can read while you walk! The story on our walk is On Meadowview Street by Henry Cole. It’s about a girl who creates a habitat in her front yard! (A habitat is a home for animals.) You can learn more about this event at the end of this blog post.

Were setting up the Storybook walk soon! Photograph by Trudyann Buckley.

Were setting up the Storybook walk soon! Photograph by Trudyann Buckley.

We love On Meadowview Street, and we’re pretty sure you will too. It gave us some great ideas for celebrating nature this Spring, and we wanted to share them! You can try them at home, or you can try some of them at your local park or Nature Center:

1. Draw a flower!

Flowers are beautiful, aren’t they? Pack a bag with a notebook, a pencil and eraser, and something to color with like crayons or colored pencils. Then, go outside! When you find a pretty wildflower, draw your own version of it! You can practice the challenge of drawing it exactly as it looks, or you can change how it looks! Make it your favorite color, or give it different shaped petals! There’s always room for imagination. You know, if you go back to that flower a week or two later, it might look completely different. You could even draw it again. Try it out!

Annalie is a great artist! She practices drawing flowers a lot. See if you can guess what flower she drew. I’ll give you a big hint: its picture is in this blog post!

Drawing by Annalie Mallon.

2. Make a birdfeeder!

You can thread some cheerios and dried cranberries on a string and hang it on a tree or a nearby fence. Then, visit it from time to time! If you are very quiet with your footsteps, you may see a bird eating your snack! If not, you might still see that the snack you’ve left out has been nibbled! I’m sure you’ll feed some happy birds! Just remember, you need thread and a sewing needle for this project, so make sure you have an adult’s help or permission.

Or if you want to make another kind of birdfeeder, ask an adult to help you find some ideas on the web. There are pinecone birdfeeders, orange-half birdfeeders, and lots more!

Photograph by Trudyann Buckley.

Photograph by Trudyann Buckley.

3. Catch an insect!

There are all sorts of cool insects hiding in the grass and the leaves. Ask an adult to poke small holes in an old, cleaned-out peanut butter jar. Then, take the jar outside and go on an insect expedition! You might catch a beetle, grasshopper, fly, caterpillar, or even a praying mantis. You can look at the insect’s behavior, and compare it to the other insects you’ve caught. You can even draw a picture of it. But don’t forget: when you’re done with the insect, let it go so it can continue living its happy life.

Who knows what you will catch? Photograph by Christy Belardo.

Who knows what you will catch? Photograph by Christy Belardo.

4. Make a birdbath!

Wildlife needs water to survive! Try putting water and maybe some pebbles in an old, shallow bowl and leaving it outside so that animals in your neighborhood have a source of fresh water. If you put it on the ground in a hidden spot, you might be surprised by a toad or a snail! Just remember to change the water every few days to avoid mosquitos.

I hid my birdbath so that birds would feel safe there. Photograph by Trudyann Buckley.

Photograph by Trudyann Buckley.

3. Take care of a native flower!

Did you know that baby birds can’t survive without a lot of insects to eat? Did you know that insects can’t eat plants from other countries? So, plants from other countries don’t make very good bird habitat because they don’t provide food for baby birds. However, plants from around here make great habitat for birds! Plants from around here are called native plants. They are useful to wildlife and beautiful to you and me. If you see a wild flower, or a flower at the store that you want to take care of, try asking an adult you know if it’s a native plant! If they don’t know, you can figure it out together! You can take care of a native flower by planting it in a spot where it will grow happily. If you find one in your yard or garden, try fencing it from lawn mowers and deer so that it can spread and make new flowers.

The flower below is a native flower. It’s called a Spring Beauty! Does it look familiar?

Spring Beauties are blooming right now! Photograph by Trudyann Buckley.

Spring Beauties are blooming right now! Photograph by Trudyann Buckley.

6. Spend time outside!

Maybe you like playing ball games. Maybe you like puddle jumping. Perhaps you want to watch clouds, or stargaze! Do you like to make sculptures or little towns out of rocks and sticks? Is your favorite thing quietly searching for animals in trees and under rocks and logs? Do you want to go to the playground, or have a picnic? If you don’t know what you like to do yet, try something new! The important thing is: you’re having fun in the fresh, Spring air!

Looks like a cool place to explore!

Looks like a cool place to explore! Photograph by John Harrod.

7. Go for a walk!

You can go for a walk outside anywhere you want! It’s a great way to get active, get healthy, and enjoy the outdoors.

Between April 1st and May 31st, you’re invited to Ashland Nature Center, DuPont Environmental Education Center and Abbot’s Mill Nature Center to go on a storybook walk! Pages of the book On Meadowview Street will be posted along one of our trails so you can read while you walk. You don’t have to register this time, just come visit a nature center any day you’d like!

Welcome! Photograph by Helen Fischel.

Welcome! Photograph by Helen Fischel.

This event is part of Longwood Gardens’ Community Read.  You can learn about other Community Read events HERE.

If you are interested in making your own backyard habitat for animals to live, ask a parent to help you visit THIS website to learn how in 5 steps. You can even certify it if you would like to.

If your family wants to raise a few native plant that they don’t have yet, they can visit THIS website to learn about the upcoming Native Plant Sale. Continue reading

Maple Madness & Pancake Palooza!

By Annalie Mallon, Education Intern

Howdy Kids! I hope everyone has been venturing outside to enjoy this lovely weather!

Here at the Delaware Nature Society we are in the midst of prime maple sugaring season. The most exciting part about this is that our family maple sugaring program and pancake breakfast is being held THIS upcoming Saturday, Feb. 27th!

If you have ever wondered how maple syrup is created (spoiler alert: I’m about to share some of the secrets below) then head on over to Ashland Nature Center to find out AND get a chance to make and taste your own!

Some Selections of Maple Syrup. photo by Annalie Mallon

Mmmmmmm maple syrup. That sticky sweet deliciousness that you lovingly pour over fluffy pancakes to make them taste a little bit more like heaven. Is your mouth watering yet? Mine sure is!

But from where does this delicious treat come? For those of you who do not know, we get maple syrup from Maple trees! In the late Winter months, like February and March, when the temperature starts to get warmer during the day (around 40 degrees) but remains freezing over night, tree sap that has been stored in the trees roots all winter starts making some moves. The sap (which is made up of over 97% water and less than 3% sugar) acts as a source of food and nutrients for the tree. It rises up through the trunk during those warmer days and starts to make its way to the branches and buds so that new leaves can grow come spring! It is during this wonderful time of the year that people harvest that sap and use it to make maple syrup!

A view of some gorgeous Maple trees in the Fall!

To start the process, we choose a Maple tree that is old enough to be tapped. To check if a tree is old enough, we measure how wide it is. If it is at least twelve inches in diameter, we can use it! We grab our handy hand drill to drill a small two inch deep hole into the tree. Don’t worry though, this does not hurt the tree. We then tap a tool called a spile right into the newly drilled hole and watch as sap starts to drip out! Check out the picture below and see if you can spot the drop of sap coming off the end of the spile..

Spile in a Silver Maple – photo by Annalie Mallon

 

Collecting bag on a Silver Maple! Photo by Annalie Mallon

Once the sap starts to flow, we hook one of these blue collecting bags onto the spile and wait for it to fill…

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Photo by Annalie Mallon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Woah check it out! The whole bag filled up over the weekend!

Once we have collected enough sap, we bring it back to the nature center and begin the process of turning it into syrup.

Pouring the sap into a big pan being heated over a fire, we boil it down so that a majority of the water evaporates out of it and we are left with a small amount of sweet sugary liquid that we call syrup!

It takes between 60 – 90 gallons of Maple sap to make only 1 gallon of syrup! That is a LOT of sap! No wonder pure maple syrup is expensive!

 

 

Fun Fact: Maple Syrup is made only in North America! Canada is the largest producer, but the state of Vermont comes in at a close second (they produce over a million gallons per season!). This is because our unique climate of warm days and freezing nights plus all of the maple trees that we have is not very common anywhere else!

Would you and your family be interested in seeing how this process works and then get to eat a bunch of pancakes? Join us this weekend and work up an appetite while walking to our maple trees to learn how Native Americans developed the technique of producing maple syrup. Discover why settlers relied on this source for many years and how syrup farmers make this product today. See how we tap trees at Ashland and how other animals might be doing the same. Then boil down some sap into syrup and taste it before returning for a pancake and maple syrup brunch!!

Saturday, February 27, 10am – Noon

Members: $7, Others: $12

Meets at Ashland Nature Center, 3511 Barley Mill Road Hockessin, DE 19707

Call (302) 239-2334 or click Here to register!

pancakes

Why Do Male and Female Animals Sometimes Look Different?

by Trudyann Buckley

Good morning, nature lovers, and Happy Almost-Valentine’s Day! While you’re outside this weekend, make sure to look for our favorite Valentine-colored bird: the Cardinal!

The Male looks like this:

A Male Cardinal

Photograph by Joe Sebastiani.

 

And the Female looks like this:

A female Northern Cardinal. Photograph by Joe Sebastiani.

Photograph by Joe Sebastiani.

 

When a male and female of the same species look different, that species is called dimorphic (Pronounced dye-morf-ik). You may have known this was true of Cardinals, but do you know why?

There are lots of reasons for dimorphism, but it all comes down to attracting that special someone to build a nest together. Scientists think that a male cardinal’s redness has to do with how much nutrition he gets. So, he is advertising to the female that he is healthy, and knows where good food is to provide for babies.

Mallard ducks are also dimorphic. The more of a certain type of vitamin the male duck eats, the more orange their beak becomes! Female mallards are attracted to males with nice orange beaks.

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A male Mallard Duck. Photograph by Joe Sebastiani.

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A female Mallard Duck. Photograph by Joe Sebastiani.

 

Of course sometimes color has nothing to do with health and a female just chooses the male she thinks is the prettiest.

When a species is dimorphic, it really all depends on which gender is competing for the attention of the other. Lots of males often compete for the attention of one female, and the female chooses the male she’s most impressed by. If female cardinals are always choosing the reddest male cardinals, then their male babies will inherit that redness. Thus, very bright red males are born in a few generations!

Meanwhile the female cardinal doesn’t get anything out of being red. She’s not competing for a male’s attention; she’s choosing. Her coloration helps her camouflage with her surroundings instead. This is especially useful when they have to tend to a nest without predators finding them.

But why aren’t the females colorful too?

Sometimes the females are more colorful, like the Belted Kingfisher. Sometimes females and males are colored identically, like Blue Jays and Tufted Titmice. It all depends on the birds’ evolution, and how they interact with each other and their environment.

Blue Jay Bucktoe Creek Preserve

A Blue Jay. Photograph by Joe Sebastiani.

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A Tufted Titmouse. Photograph by Joe Sebastiani.

Is dimorphism only about color differences? Nope! Males and females might be the same color, but different sizes or shapes! Remember Blue Jays? Females of that species tend to be smaller than males.

At Coverdale Farm preserve, our roosters are bigger than females. Compared to hens, roosters generally have bigger combs on their heads and wattles under their chins. That’s another way to attract females, but it also helps keep the bird cool in the heat of summer: that’s two purposes in one!

Do you want a chance this weekend to see some of these birds in real life? On February 13th, 2016 from 10am to 11:30pm, Ashland Nature Center invites families of all ages to Feed The Birds! Come hike to our bird feeders and birdwatch, as well as peak through our new bird blind. You’ll even make a bird feeder of your own so you can see these birds outside your own window. Try to spy some species you’ve never seen before, too! Register HERE, or call (302) 239-2334 to register over the phone.

If your family would like to see our chickens, cows and other farm animals, Coverdale Farm Preserve will show you around in Farm Valentines, where you’ll deliver a Valentine’s gift to fuzzy and feathered friends, and then make a valentines treat for someone you care about! This program will run on Valentine’s Day: February 14th, 2016, 1pm to 3pm. Register HERE, or call (302) 239-2334 to register over the phone.

And don’t forget, this weekend is the nationwide citizen science program: the Great Backyard Bird Count! Find out how to participate HERE.

Five Fun Groundhog Facts!

By Trudyann Buckley

Groundhog photo by Derek Stoner

Groundhog photograph by Derek Stoner

A groundhog could count these facts on one hand! …if he could count.

  1. groundhog1Groundhogs are also called whistle-pigs and woodchucks.

They are called whistle pigs because, when they spy a threat, they sometimes whistle. This may be to warn others, or to scare their predators. They’re not closely related to pigs at all!

Woodchucks don’t have anything to do with wood, either. (Though, they can climb trees to get away from predators.) The name “Woodchuck” actually comes from the Native American name for Groundhogs: wuchak.

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2.    groundhog2How Much Wood A Woodchuck Would Chuck:

If we’re talking about nibbling on wood, they do that to file down their teeth, but not too often.

But lots of people would say “to chuck” means to throw something. Groundhogs are great at digging burrows, so they chuck a lot of dirt, but not wood. In fact, one scientist found that they “throw” about 700 pounds of dirt out of the way to make one burrow. If you imagine that dirt is a bunch of wood chips instead, you have your answer!

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groundhog33.  Their teeth keep growing!

Groundhogs are rodents. They’re closely related to squirrels, and more distantly related to mice, rats, and beavers. Rodents are set apart from other mammals by their two front teeth, which just keep growing! If they don’t file their teeth down by munching, they’re in trouble! A groundhog’s teeth can grow a little less than an inch every year.

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groundhog44. They hibernate!

A lot of the mammals who live in Delaware stay active during the winter, but not groundhogs! They eat a lot during the fall, pack on the pounds, and then they burrow into the ground and fall asleep for the winter. While hibernating, they can lower their body temperature from around 99 degrees to 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and sometimes even colder temperatures! Their heartbeat and breathing also slows down. During that time, they use their extra fat as fuel to keep them alive. Then, they wake up in the spring!

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groundhog55. Groundhog Day used to be Candlemas Day!

Groundhog Day has been celebrated on February 2nd in Punxsutawney, PA since the early 1800s. It falls on the Christian holiday of Candlemas, the festival of light. The superstition goes that if it’s sunny on Candlemas, then there will be six more weeks of winter. However, if it’s cloudy, then Spring is coming! So, in Europe, if a hedgehog emerged from hibernation on Candlemas and saw his shadow, uh oh! More winter! When Europeans came to America, groundhogs were chosen as a substitute, since there were no wild hedgehogs here.

Sun on Feb. 2nd meant MORE winter!

Do you want to celebrate Groundhogs with Delaware Nature Society? Come on over to Ashland Nature Center on February 1st at 10am for the Groundhog Gala! We’ll be meeting a Groundhog puppet friend, visiting an outdoor burrow, playing games, and crafting our own furry friend!

The Groundhog Gala is a seasonal family program, perfect for families with kids below ten years old! Learn more and register HERE! or, call (302) 239-2334 to register over the phone!

Meet the New Interns!

By Annalie Mallon and Trudyann Buckley

What’s happening nature lovers?! Enjoying this crisp January air? In the midst of learning how to teach all of the fall programs here at DNS along with the recent holiday craziness, we have completely forgotten to introduce ourselves 😳😱. Our names are Trudyann Buckley and Annalie Mallon and we are the education interns for the 2015-2016 year!  We are so happy that you have stumbled upon the kids nature blog – a great place for you to stay up to date on current things happening at DNS and to check out what kids like you have been doing at some of our sites!

Trudyann (left) and Annalie (right) teaching an Animals in Winter Outreach at a local school!

Since we have already been working here for the past few months, we thought we would give you a quick introduction with some fun facts about us and what we love most about working for the Delaware Nature Society.

Fact numero uno: We both have a passion for the outdoor world! What are some of the types of things we enjoy doing outside and where are some of our favorite spots to explore?

  • Annalie is a big ocean fanatic. When she is not daydreaming about living on a Caribbean island and SCUBA diving with fish everyday she enjoys hiking, camping, kayaking, and fishing! 🐠🐠 Below is a picture of her favorite camping spot on the St. Lawrence River in the Thousand Islands, New York.

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  • Trudyann likes to make the most of the seasons. She loves skim and boogie boarding on the New Jersey coast in the summer. In the winter, she hits the slopes on her snowboard in the Pocono Mountains. Below is a picture of the view on top of one of her favorite trails. She also loves hiking, ice skating, and swimming in lakes! slopes

Fact #2: The herp room animals are some of our best friends! We spend tons of time caring for, feeding, and teaching with these awesome reptiles and amphibians. Which ones are our favorites? (shh we’re allowed to have favorites, just don’t tell them!)

  • Trudyann thinks our spotted turtle is awesome! It’s pretty shy, but it’s very friendly. It has only three legs, but it doesn’t seem bothered. Also, its balancing game is on point! spotted turtle
  • Annalie’s favorite herp room friend is the Diamondback Terrapin because he has the coolest diamond shell pattern and polka dotted body, AND he is an excellent swimmer who gets to live by the beach! He has also been used as a symbol for one of her favorite bands (extra points if anyone can guess who!).

terrapin

Female Praying Mantis

#3: What are our favorite programs to teach??

  • Annalie enjoys teaching insect safari because we get to explore three different habitats around Ashland and search for some super cool insects! We found this pretty lady (right) sitting on top of the butterfly house one day and brought her to some of our school outreaches. She even laid an egg case which hatched in the herp room – we had hundreds of baby praying mantises!
  • Trudyann has a wonderful time teaching Stream Ecology. The lesson shows kids how fun science can be! We get to test stream chemistry and look for critters. Then we find out why one effects the other. She especially loves finding Crayfish in the stream–so cool!

#4: What is the most exciting/our favorite thing that we have done so far while working for the Delaware Nature Society?

  • To train for our Native Birds lesson, Trudyann loved looking after a borrowed pet Mallard duck all morning. The duck explored our office space, and then she sat right next to our desks and started to fall asleep!20160112_224436
  • Annalie thought shucking corn on the farm was quite a fun little mission. At the beginning of December, a whole group of teacher naturalists and volunteers got together at Coverdale Farm Preserve to pull off and collect all of the dried ears of corn in the corn field! We loaded up whole trashcans full to be used for school programs!

#5: What are you looking forward to doing before your internship is over at the end of August?!

  • “Apart from waiting for it to snow so that we can FINALLY use sledding hill for what it was named for, I am super psyched about summer camp!! I can’t wait to go on some awesome adventures with all of you kids!” – Annalie
  • “I’m looking forward to seeing all the flowers and trees at the Nature Center bloom in the Spring! I hear the meadow is going to be beautiful, so Nature Photography, Insect Safari, and Exploring Ecosystems will be extra fun to teach!” -Trudyann

Are you a Delaware Nature Society member between the ages of 9 and 12 and love nature like us?? Come on over to the Ashland Nature Center and join the Young Naturalist Club, a group of  nature lovers, bug collectors, snake finders, and explorers! We’ll be spending our time outdoors hiking and exploring streams, woods, fields and wetlands in search of reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals. Make new friends that are interested in the outdoors, like you. Time will be spent at Ashland Nature Center and natural areas and preserves in the area.

Meets the last Sunday of the month at Ashland Nature Center unless otherwise noted, 9 – noon

Ages 9-12, members only: $60

3511 Barley Mill Road Hockessin, DE 19707 (302) 239-2334

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New Year, New Trees!

by Annalie Mallon, Education Intern

Happy New Year nature lovers! We hope you enjoyed the holidays (although if you spent them any way like we did, you did quite a lot of eating and lazy laying around). So that means it’s time to get up and get back outside into what FINALLY seems like winter weather! (Take a look at the picture of wildflower creek below, it’s all iced over!) 12506621_10154218455222923_711342281_n

So I have some pretty amazing news to share with all of you – this past November, the Delaware Nature Society was granted the opportunity to plant a whopping 1,000 new trees and 1,000 new plants on some of our properties! If you are thinking to yourself “holy moly that sounds like a LOT of plants,” you are indeed correct. And to add to this plant craziness, the team of planters was given only a few short weeks to get them all into the ground. Sound like a challenge? They succeeded!

Take a walk down some of our trails here at Ashland Nature Center and see if you can spot any of these new plants. What might look like a bunch of little sticks popping out of the ground are actually baby trees, or saplings, of many different species!

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Here I am digging a hole to plant the sapling in the black container next to my foot!

Getting all of those saplings and plants into the ground took a lot of hard work and effort. First, large sections of dead vines and weeds had to be cut and mowed so that there was plenty of open land for planting. After mowing, the different species of trees and plants had to be distributed to these open areas according to their growing needs (for example, a type of tree that grows well in the shade was placed in a shadier spot). Then each and every hole had to be dug so that all 2,000 saplings and plants could be properly planted and snugly buried. Finally, hundreds of tree cages were cut, shaped, and carefully placed around the newly planted saplings to make sure they will not be eaten by deer and other animals this winter. All of this was done at Ashland Nature Center, Coverdale Farm Preserve, and Flint Woods Preserve within the span of only one month! Phew!

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Alec and Joe cutting and shaping a few of the hundreds of tree cages!

I asked the planting team about their month-long planting adventure, and this is what they had to say about some of the trees that were planted –

“I like the persimmon tree because people doing programs and camps, or just visiting our trails for a walk will be able to enjoy the delicious fruit that it produces. My favorite tree that I planted is the white oak because they are beautiful and the deer love them!” – Joe Cirillo

“We planted some beach plums which will produce some really yummy fruit, and I like the paw paw tree because it has a great name” – Dave Pro

I personally enjoyed planting the Tulip Poplar saplings because the roots were a bright neon green color and they smelled super funky. The Tulip trees also produce beautiful flowers in the spring (pictured below) and they can grow to be up to 150 feet tall!! (I made sure that all of the saplings I planted were done with extra love and care, so they will most definitely grow to be that tall).

tulip tree flower

Tulip Tree Flower taken by Dave Pro

So there you have it! Planting thousands of trees is a lot of hard work (I might still have blisters on my hands from my attempts at making tree cages), but it will definitely pay off years from now when they all grow to become new homes for the many animals that live around here.

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Can you see all of the new tree cages lining walnut lane?

Bring your family over to the Ashland Nature Center and join us this Sunday, January 10th, from noon to 3pm for our New Year’s Plant count! Discover how many species of plants can be found here in the middle of winter with botanist Janet Ebert, and see how many of these new trees you can find! Please bring a bag lunch and dress for the weather.

Register at www.delnature.org or by calling 302-239-2334.

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