Make a bird circus in your backyard

March 15th, 2010

Have you ever watched a goldfinch hang upside down to eat?

 

How about a flock of Bushtits on a suet feeder?

 

Or, a chickadee eat sunflower seeds?

   

These are all great bird acts and as much fun to watch as a 3-ring circus.  

  • A chickadee will grab a single sunflower seed from a feeder, fly to a fence or tree branch, clasp it between its toes and pound away until the shell is cracked. It takes a while, but this little bird will not give up.

  •  Tiny Bushtits take cute to a new level. They travel in flocks, covering a suet feeder within seconds, their tiny bodies becoming one big pile of disheveled fluff as they feast.

  • Not to be outdone, American Goldfinches, hang upside down to eat their favorite lunch of thistles.

   

 

  

GUTZY STUFF: Get an adult to help you create a 3-ring bird circus in your backyard. Hang a sunflower seed tube feeder about five feet off the ground. 

 

Before long, nuthatches, Pine Siskins, and a gang of chickadees will be perching in your trees and along your fence.  

 

Add a hopper feeder to attract larger birds such as Purple Finches, sparrows, grosbeaks and crossbills.  

 

When the birds hop on the feeder, it releases the seeds. Much of it ends on the ground, but this will attract ground feeders such as juncos, sparrows and towhees.  

 

It’s natural for goldfinches to perch and feed upside down, so you can enjoy their acrobatics with a thistle tube that is especially designed for small beaked finches. Beware though. They are social birds, traveling in large groups and swarming feeders—a fantastic sight. 

 

Who can resist the industrious manner of a woodpecker? To attract these, hang suet in a mesh bag or wire cage from a tree or pole.  

 

Suet is an energy-rich, high fat feed that is perfect for cold-weather feeding. Wrens, jays and warblers are fans of suet, as well. Before long your BIRD CIRCUS will be a hit with everyone.  

 

Check out these backyard bird feeding ideas and tips from Audubon.    

  

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Is this walrus a bully?

March 15th, 2010

   

Have you ever played King of the Mountain?  

It’s a game you play with friends where you bully your way to the top of a giant rock or dirt pile, pushing and shoving every other kid in your path as you try to reach the top and be KING OF THE MOUNTAIN.  

 

  

Walruses have their own version of King of the Mountain.   

When they haul their huge blubbery bodies out of the water to dry out and warm-up, they push, shove and grunt as they compete with each other for the best spot on land.  

And, sometimes they get really mean and use their 20-inch sharp ivory tusks to poke and prod other walruses out of their way.  

Why do you think a walrus might act like a bully?  Could it be for survival?  

Check out this article on the National Geographic website about the many ways walruses use their tusks to survive.  

How is that different from people who are bullies?    

What do you think of people who are bullies?  

Have you been teased or bullied?  

Do you think there should be a law against bullying?  

GUTZY STUFF: Ask you parent or teacher to read the article in Salon.com about making a new anti-bullying law.  

Share your feelings about bullies.  

Tell them if you have been teased or bullied.  

Talk about what happens at your school or in your neighborhood when kids bully other kids.

3 green and gutsy things kids can do

March 9th, 2010

GOING GREEN can mean lots of things these days.

It’s everything from making sure we have clean water to keeping stuff out of the landfills by recycling.

In a big way, it means doing things that will help our earth stay HEALTHY.

So, as you can imagine, there are thousands of  GREEN THINGS kids can do.

You can make a difference and feel good by trying these 3 easy activities.
 

GUTZY STUFF 

  1. Up your allowance. Get your mom or dad to save energy by lowering your water heater to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Then ask for an increase in your allowance based on the utility bill savings.
     

  2. Become the light police. Make sure lights and appliances around your house are turned off when they are not being used.
     

  3. Give your Mom a green birthday present. Offer her an hour or two of your time to help in the garden. You could help her start a compost pile, spread organic mulch in the flowerbeds or help plant bird friendly shrubs. It will be the best birthday present ever.

Look for marine critters at night on the beach

March 9th, 2010

Everyone loves the BEACH and one of the best times to look for MARINE CRITTERS on the beach is in the winter AFTER DARK.

It’s a little scary and you can definitely expect the unexpected. It’s a geat family activity.

Last week a group of volunteer Beach Watchers helped more than a hundred kids and their families search for intertidal critters on the beach after dark.

Along the shore, they found , crabs, sea stars, sea slugs, snails and a giant Feather Duster sea worm.

You can set up your own night-time beach walk with your family on a low-tide day in your area. (You can find low-tide listings for your area at many sites on the internet.)

Get your parents to help you find flashlights, headlamps or lanterns and head to a local beach.

Many of the beach critters congregate in tide pools, along jettys and under piers.

It’s a great way to spend a winter evening with your family. Oh, and don’t forget the hot chocolate!  

 

GUTZY STUFF:  Take a notebook to write down everything you see while it’s fresh in your mind.

Then look up your favorite critters in the Encyclopedia at National Geographic.

Write down amazing facts and you’ll learn alot and have a head start on your next science report.

 

5 facts about SEA STARS found at the National Geographic website.

  1. Most people call sea stars starfish, but they are not a fish. Instead, they are more closely related to sea urchins and sand dollars

  2. Most sea stars have five arms, which are evenly spaced around their bodies, but some have 10, 20 or 40 arms

  3. About 2,000 species of sea stars live in the earth’s oceans

  4. Sea Stars can live in the wild up to 35 years

  5. Their blood is actually made of filtered water

 

MORE GUTZY STUFF: Follow these GOOD MANNER tips the next time you are at the beach.

 

  • We look like Godzilla to marine critters, so slow down and walk SOFTLY to avoid stepping on them.

 

  • Think of beach rocks as marine condominiums. They are home to many marine animals that need a cool, wet, protected home. If you look under one, do so GENTLY and make sure you return the rock to its original position.

 

  • Seaweeds are living blankets. During low-tide animals hide under seaweed for SHELTER and protection. Try to avoid walking on seaweed beds so you won’t SQUISH these animals.

 

  • Take only photographs, not critters. Be HAPPY to enjoy them in their natural settings.

 

  • Use wet hands when touching the critters you find. Many of them have layers of slime to protect them from the sun and air, so dry hands can remove these protective layers.  

 

These tips were adapted from the Beach Watchers.

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