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Distance Learning Young Naturalists Club

We All Live Downstream

This Enviroscape is a simulation of a watershed and is a great way to illustrate non-point source pollution! Non-point source pollution is when pollution comes from many different places.

What are some things that we know cause pollution? Pollution can come from anywhere and anyone. Putting salt on the roads, not picking up your dog’s waste, and running your car unnecessarily all creates pollution. When it rains or when snow melts, that pollution ends up in our waterways.

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Nest Watch: Virtual Field Trip

tree swallow nest in a birdbox

Did you go looking for birds nests after Joe wrote about them last week? We are going to looking for nests live tomorrow!

Join us via Zoom at 1:30pm on Friday, May 1. We’ll check on bird boxes in several wetlands and forests, to see what the birds are up to. Spring is breeding season, and birds are everywhere!

We will send information about what they find to Nest Watch, a research project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
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Friday, May 1 at 1:30pm
Please register at this link:
https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMlduusqzksH9BAad9YoG9gLFrW7XAp_Ini

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You can also follow the facebook event.

Have a bird question or request for the field trip? Leave a comment!

Stay updated in our Facebook Group

We are sharing every new activity in the Southeast Ohio Young Naturalists Club facebook group. Join our group for conversation with other nature-exploring families, and to always know what environmental education activities are happening.

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Distance Learning Young Naturalists Club

Stream Life

On Monday, you learned what a watershed is and how to make a mini watershed with paper. Today we will talk about some of the things that make up a watershed: streams and the organisms that live in them. 

Streams are where water first gathers in a watershed. They join together to make big rivers and eventually flow into the ocean. Streams are home to many forms of life, including plants, bugs, and animals.

Organisms make their home in different parts of streams, such as:

  • under rocks
  • in tree root clumps
  • in vegetation.

For example, salamanders prefer to live in spaces under rocks. Fish like to live in deeper pools in and around tree roots. Some bugs like to live in clumps of dead leaves. One type of fish called “darters” even likes to live right on the stream bed!

Here are some common critters you might find in streams in Ohio:

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Distance Learning Young Naturalists Club

What is a Watershed?

A watershed is like an upside down umbrella.

Wait, what?

OK, let me explain. What is a watershed? A watershed is an area of land drained by a river and its tributaries (smaller creeks) to a common outlet. This outlet may be a basin, large stream, lake, wetland or ocean.

A watershed includes everything in its boundaries: land, air, surface water , underground water, plants, animals (this includes humans!), mountains, cities and forests. 

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Distance Learning Young Naturalists Club

What you can do to help birds

Hey guys! This week we learned about bird nests and bird migration. Today, we wrap up the week by looking at ways to increase bird biodiversity, right in your neighborhood!

Have you heard of biodiversity before?

Let’s break it down:

  • The first part of the word, Bio, means life.
  • The second part, Diversity, means a variety of things.
  • So put together, it means a variety of living things.

Scientists consider more biodiverse ecosystems to be healthier.

We can attract a diversity of birds by creating diverse places for them to live, and creating diverse food sources for them. Let’s look at some examples of how to do that.

So how can we improve bird biodiversity?

We’ll go over:

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Distance Learning Young Naturalists Club

Bird Migration

Right now, in our very own backyards, an amazing annual event is taking place. Birds are currently traveling from their winter residences all the way to their summer homes! This is called migration.

Your challenge today is to find as many different species of birds as possible and to figure out how they got here!

As it is currently the height of migration season, we have an incredibly diverse population here with us. Some birds might be full-time residents, but others are just passing through. Take a look outside and see what you can find!

Once you’ve found a bird, go to Cornell’s All About Birds site to be guided through identifying it.

It may take patience to see birds outside your home. If you can’t get a good look at a bird at home, try these livestreamed bird feeders:

  • This live footage of a bird feeder in Ithaca, NY has similar birds as Ohio.
  • This one in Fort Davis, TX is farther away. Do you see any birds that are the same as here? Any birds that don’t live here?

What to look for:

When trying to identify birds, there are a few characteristics that can be incredibly helpful:

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Distance Learning

Survival Skills Virtual Field Trip: This Friday!

This Friday, we’re taking another Zoom-based field trip. Join us for a crash course in survival skills!

Environmental educator Joe Brehm and Madison Donohue will teach us about some of the most basic survival skills like fire building, rope making, and even brewing wild tea. This event is for youth, adults, and families.

Friday, April 24th at 1:30pm
Please register at this link to attend: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJwsdemppj0iGNRQB-Rxrq6gdBoIm4sIjj26

You can also see the Facebook event.

Using a tinder bundle to coax a coal to life. This is part of starting fire with friction (i.e., rubbing sticks together).

We’ll explore these skills:
Starting and tending to a fire
Foraging for food
Using natural materials to create tools.

Stay tuned for some activities you can practice to prepare!

Have survival questions or something else you’d like to see in a field trip? Leave a comment!

Stay updated in our Facebook Group

We are sharing every new activity in the Southeast Ohio Young Naturalists Club facebook group. Join our group for conversation with other nature-exploring families, and to always know what environmental education activities are happening.

Categories
Distance Learning Young Naturalists Club

Best of Bird Nests

When admiring a freshly made bird nest, my grandfather would whistle and say, “they put us to shame.” He was impressed with the nests’ efficiency, beauty, and that they make them without hands. Another amazing thing about bird nests? Almost every species makes a unique type of nest.

Today, we challenge you to find at least one bird nest and try to identify the bird species who made it. Key clues to solve this mystery are:

  • material the nest is made out of (leaves, moss, sticks, spit, dirt?)
  • habitat type in which you found it (the woods? Near water? A field?)
  • its size 
  • height off the ground (on the ground? In bushes? High in a tree?) 

Compare your clues to the descriptions of nests at allaboutbirds.org (which has lots of other great bird information too!). 

If you are quiet and patient, you might also see:

  • What the eggs or chicks look like
  • Parent birds coming and going

That will definitely help you figure out what kind of birds made the nest!

Some of the easiest nests to identify in Southeast Ohio are made by Baltimore orioles. They weave bag-like nests out of milkweed and other plant fibers. See the nest below on the left, and the male oriole on the right:

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Distance Learning Young Naturalists Club

Virtual Vernal Pool Trips

We’ve heard about a few of your vernal pool trips this week!

Some of you joined us virtually for a Zoom field trip today. We livestreamed from the vernal pool on the Cucumbertree trail in Athens. We saw:

We share some of what we learned below. Like: how some frogs breathe through their skins, but some insects breathe through their butts.

Other people took their own trips. Take a short video trip with our friends, Juni and Maggi!

Juni and Maggi showed us how they find living organisms in their pond, and how they used iNaturalist to identify them.

What species did they find? How does it fit into the food web of the pond? If you like, do a little research and tell us what you figure out.

You can also explore more Ohio wetlands through these 360 photos here.

Questions to ponder from the field…

People asked a lot of great questions on our virtual field trip today. Here are few things we talked about!

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Distance Learning Young Naturalists Club

A Call to Protect our Forest—by eating it

Last week, Brett taught us how to forage for tasty wild plants. He told us to only harvest a few plants from any patch. Today, we’re going to discover an exception to that rule. You can pull up every single one of this kind of plant.

It goes by many names: Garlic Mustard, hedge garlic, sauce-alone, jack-by-the-hedge, poor man’s mustard, jack-in-the-bush, garlic root, garlic wort, mustard root.

A picture of young Garlic Mustard

We will call this plant Garlic Mustard during today’s activity, but you can call it any of those names. Scientists have come up with a fancy Latin name to make sure other scientists know exactly what they are talking about. Alliaria petiolata is how scientists say Garlic Mustard. 

This picture of Garlic Mustard was taken by Leigh Casal on iNaturalist

Invasive- Have you heard of an alien invasion before? Invasive plants are kind of like an alien invasion, except they don’t come from outer space. Invasive plants come from distant ecosystems. They are able to grow extremely fast and take over the new ecosystem they are growing in, causing damage to their new ecosystem. They can take up all the food, space, or water, making survival more difficult for the original plants.

Garlic Mustard is an invasive plant from Europe. It’s been slowly taking over our forest for over 150 years! It can even release a chemical in the soil that stops other plants from growing. We need you to help save our forest. All you have to do is pull this plant up wherever you find it!

Luckily removing this invader is simple, easy and rewarding. But first we need to know how to find it.