Tag Archives: animals

Animal Travelers

By Rebecca Wadman, Education Intern

Every animal needs to be able to find its way from one place to another for food, shelter, and reproduction. But animals can’t make maps or use GPS like we can, so how do they find their way across large distances?

Pigeon pair - Photo by Derek Stoner

Pigeon pair – Photo by Derek Stoner

Pigeons will fly hundreds of miles to make their way back to their nests, and so people have been using them to carry messages from one place to another for thousands of years. Ancient Greeks used them to announce the winners of the Olympics, doctors used them to deliver medication, and soldiers in both World Wars used them to send messages back to base.

In order to find their home nests from wherever they are, pigeons rely on a complicated combination of all their senses. They use the sun as a compass to help point themselves in the right direction, and then they use hearing, sight, and even smell to direct them home. Not only that, but pigeons have the ability to sense magnetic fields, which can tell them which way is north, and also how far up or down their flight is tilted.

Bees on Purple Coneflower - Photo by Katie Harrison

Bees on Purple Coneflower – Photo by Katie Harrison

Honeybees not only know how to find their way through their environment, they also know how to give other bees directions!

A honeybee can tell the others in her hive where to find a location. This can be the location of flowers, water, or even a new hive site. She does this by dancing. If she dances straight up towards the top of the hive, the location that she’s trying to point the others to is straight towards the sun. If she dances straight down, she’s trying to point the others directly away from the sun.

Bees also use scent to communicate. As they dance, they spread the scent of whatever flower they just visited to the other bees in the hive. This helps the other bees find the flowers by looking for a similar scent.

Come find your way around Ashland Nature Center every weekend! Our teacher naturalists lead a free hike at 10:00am and 2:00pm on both Saturday and Sunday!

Ready for Their Close-Up

Hey kids! I’ve got a fun activity for you to spice up your February. I work with some pretty cool animals on a daily basis and I wanted to share them with you! At this time of year these animals would be hibernating in the wild but not these guys. They were awake and ready for their close-ups when one of our Teacher Naturalists, Jeff Haas, pointed his camera at them.

Ready for the activity? Here’s what you’ve got to do. There are four different animals listed below: Animal #1 through #4. There are 2-3 close-up pictures of each animal and a short quiz following each set of pictures. It’s up to you to figure out what animal it is by looking at the pictures and then see if you can answer the questions in the quiz! At the end of the quiz the animal reveals himself so you can see if your guess was correct! Good luck!


Animal #1:

Animal #1

This animal looks pretty slippery if you ask me…

What is that big circle?

Is that a foot?

Your Score:  

Your Ranking:  

One down, three to go!


Animal #2:

Have you seen anything that looks like this before?

What body part(s) are visible in this picture? (You’ll need to know for the Animal #2 quiz!)

Hint: There are 3 of this animal in this picture!

Your Score:  

Your Ranking:  

Halfway there!


Animal #3

What body part is this?

High five!

Oh my, what big poison glands you have…

Your Score:  

Your Ranking:  

Last one!


Animal #4

What a beautiful color, don’t you agree?

This shot is so cool, it’s one of my favorites!

Your Score:  

Your Ranking:  

All done? Great job!

A big shout out and thank you to Jeff Haas for taking all these pictures of our animals with his fancy camera! Weren’t they awesome? Jeff took pictures of some more of our animals and I couldn’t help but share the rest of them with you because they are really cool pictures! Here’s a list of the animals that are pictured below (not in order): Whites Tree Frog, Boa Constrictor, American Alligator, Sudan-plated Lizard, Green Frog, Alligator Snapping Turtle, American Millipede, Yellow-footed Tortoise, Rose-haired Tarantula, Black Ratsnake, and Western Swift.

Check out the pictures and comment below if you know what animals they are. I gave you some hints!

Whose ear is this?

That’s a lot of legs…

This Ashland favorite is a tough backpacker!

This animal has the most beautiful scales.

This little lizard is pretty swift!

Check out the toes on this guy, they come in handy climbing trees!

What kind of reptile shed this?

Who is this hairy lady?

Check out that smile…

This guy is a great tree climber.

Are you green with envy for this guy’s colors?

Wow, whose mouth is this?


If you enjoyed this activity keep reading the Kids Nature Blog for more nature fun like this!

Young Naturalists Club Identify Signs of Winter Animals!

Extra, extra, read all about it! The Young Naturalists had a great time outside last weekend! Our returning guest author and Young Naturalists leader, Kristen, wanted to share what they did with you!

The Young Naturalists Club met on Sunday, December 16th to learn how to identify signs of animals that stay at Ashland Nature Center over the winter. We learned how to identify deer, rabbits, fox, raccoon, and skunks by their scat, tracks and fur! 

These Young Naturalists studying the tracks and other animal evidence they may see on the trail!

These Young Naturalists are studying the tracks and other animal evidence they may see on the trail! Photo by Kristen Sensabaugh.


We set out on a hike to try to find signs of these animals.  Along our way, we stopped to build a campfire and roasted marshmallows. We found deer and raccoon tracks along the creek side. 

Roasting marshmallows over a campfire at Wildflower Brook.

Young Naturalists roasting marshmallows over a campfire at Wildflower Brook, they look delicious! Photo by Kristen Sensabaugh.

Looking in the soft mud along the side of the creek is a great place to find animal tracks!

The soft mud along the side of the creek is a great place to find animal tracks! Photo by Kristen Sensabaugh.


After we had our fill of warm, sugary marshmallows – we hiked up Sledding Hill to find more deer tracks and scat, as well as fox scat.

Fields, like the one along Sledding Hill, is a great place to find animal scat!

Fields, like the one along Sledding Hill, is a great place to find animal scat! Photo by Kristen Sensabaugh.

As we walked along the Red Clay Creek floodplain, we found raccoon scat and tracks – and even some signs of rabbits gnawing at the base of a tree! 

After our long hike, we warmed up inside with some hot chocolate and made a special ornament using our own hand print!


Thanks for sharing Kristen! I think it’s super cool you guys found so many different kinds of tracks and scat!

Last weekend was the last Young Naturalists Club for the year, stay tuned to hear about what the Young Naturalists will be up to when the warmer weather returns! If you’re interested in joining the Young Naturalists Club on their adventures, sign up now! Members can register online at delawarenaturesociety.org or you may call us at (302) 239 – 2334.


This is our last blog post of 2012! Anna, myself, and the entire Delaware Nature Society staff wish you a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year!