Friday, October 31, 2014

BUGGY BUFFET


O.K, I have to admit that this was probably the most disgusting thing that I have ever done (and I've done a lot of very gross things). Here are a couple of the foods served at the Buggy Buffet: 
 chocolate-covered cricket, cricket meatloaf, weevil soup, and the real kind of ants-on-a-log.
 They had some very cool insect collections, along with some live ones to. 
 They also had a Silent Auction with tons of totally neat art-work, bugs, and bug-related items. 

 In the near future (about 2050) the earths population is expected to reach 9 billion, and this means we might just have to take up INSECT FARMING (totally gross)!!! 

 We will definitely be going back next year! 



POST BY ETHAN


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Getting Your Family Interested In Nature Study

I've had a few moms ask me how my kids got interested in learning about birds and insects, so I thought I'd just share our experience.   It really all started with a simple bird feeder and  this book Birds of Tennessee Field Guide.   My dad got us this book one year for Christmas and I stuck it in a drawer.   We had put up a bird feeder and a birdhouse (for decor) outside our living room window.  One day we saw some amazing birds at the feeder.   One of them we have not seen since...it was a Rose Breasted Grosbeak.   We could not believe how beautiful this bird was and I remembered that bird book!  We pulled it out and identified our first bird.  Then, we noticed a bird going in and out of the birdhouse that I had put up...strictly for looks. When we checked inside, there were tiny little eggs!   Then the eggs hatched and we watched the birds grow and fly away.  We also got the book out to identify them as Carolina Chickadees.   Luke, who was then 7, started looking through the book and then started reading it...cover to cover.   One huge blessing out of this, was that he had struggled with reading or really being interested in it at all.  He had become so interested in these birds that he just had to read about them!  He wore that book out and we had to order another one!

Robin's nest in our yard

What was so great, was that we were all of a sudden aware of all the birds around us.   We had never really noticed them before.  Now we were seeing them everywhere and we wanted to know what kind they were.  

We had always liked hiking, camping, and being outdoors in general.  Chad, my husband, had always been great about helping the kids catch frogs, bug, snakes, etc.  However, we had been missing so much!   We got some more field guides and we all began to learn about all of God's amazing creatures that were right around us the whole time.

We are not experts, and my kids know WAY more than I do, but, here is what has worked for us:

*Bird Feeders -  Go to your local stores and just pick out a feeder and seed, nectar, or a thistle sock.   Hang them up somewhere around your house where you are sure to see them everyday by just looking out the window.   Also...try some Suet!   We've seen some of the coolest birds on our suet.  You'll find it in with bird seed.

Thistle Sock and Goldfinches
Red-Bellied Woodpecker and Northern Cardinal on Suet
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird at our Hummingbird feeder
*Birdhouses -  These are a fun family project!  Make them from scratch, buy a kit, or by one preassembled.   Hang it up where you can easily watch it.  You can look online for how to make and hang a house for specific birds.   There is nothing like observing birds, all the way from making a nest, to the babies flying away.

* Field Guides  -   I'm going to list some of our favorites (affiliate links).    We've found them at yard sales, thrift stores, book stores and online.



*  As homeschoolers, nature study has become a huge part of our schooling.   This book, Handbook of Nature Study, has been great!   I take it everywhere we go and we use it to look up just about everything.   It sometimes gives us little observation activities and gets us investigating and thinking.    It's not just about wildlife, we've learned about erosion while at the river and trees and roots while hiking.   It's a wonderful resource!

Milkweed Pod

*Nature Stories - There are so many great books out there.  I never realized how educational fiction can be!   Ethan has read the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series and learned about wolves, owls, snakes and more.   We've grown to love Thornton Burgess books!     Jack's Insects (Yesterday's Classics) is an amazing book for older kids.  Books like this played a huge part in us growing to love learning about creation.  My kids got into the characters of these books without even realizing they were learning about different animals.

Favorite Thornton Burgess Animal Stories Boxed Set (Sets)

*Be prepared!  -  Try to keep things with you like binoculars, jars, buckets, nets, etc.   We also try to take at least 10 - 15 minutes to nature journal when we go out.  Don't be afraid to get dirty and keep your eyes out for things you've never seen before!









*  I think the biggest thing for us has been turning off the tv and getting rid of video games.   Every family is different, and we have our moments,  but this has been huge for us.   We never watched a ton, but, now it's hardly any at all.  Our kids hardly ever get bored now.   I've seen their love for the outdoors and their curiosity and creativity go through the roof over the past year.  Also, their growing love for reading has been such a blessing!


Find things you and your kids are interested in.   Look for good books to read about that topic.  Find places in your area to go and get away from everyday life....wildlife refuges, birding parks, gardens, etc.   Also, seek out organizations in your area that will help  you learn more.   We found our local Ornithology group and they have poured into my kids and it has been a huge help!   Pray for God to make your family stand in awe as you observe His creation...I believe He will!

Posted by Momma

Monday, October 20, 2014

WHAT IS A BIRD


Red Tailed Hawk.               

Here is what I have learned about birds: 


A bird's beak is made out of the same stuff our
nails are made out of, which is keratin.  They have strong
scaly legs and sharp toe nails. All birds are
different from each other.  Most of the time male and female birds look different.  In some species, the male and female look alike.

Red Tailed Hawk.



All birds have feathers,
two strong powerful wings, and one
strong beak.  Some birds have curved
beaks, some birds have long beaks,
some birds have short plump bills.  Not all
birds can fly,  like the Kiwi Bird.
Birds lay their eggs in nests,  but all
nests are not the same.  Some bids
make their nests on the ground,
in cliffs,  city's,  trees, holes,  poles,
or stands.  some birds are herbivores,
some birds are carnivores,  some are
 omnivores.  All birds
have different songs except the
northern mockingbird,  who mocks other birds.
Lots of birds migrate.

 I love birds and I love to learn
more about them!

Posted by Luke


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

RAPTORS

The raptors are a large group of birds, with many things in common and many things different from each other. What makes a bird one though is: talons (that is what you call a raptors feet and claws) , sharp curved bill, keen eye-sight and they have to either be a carnivore or scavenger. 
First up, the Owls. All of these have either heart or disk-shaped faces, short, extremely sharp and hooked bills and some have "ear tufts" on the top of their head, as shown above and below.
 Some can also turn their heads all the way around!

 Second, Hawks. These have long tails, broad-short wings and long hooked bills.

 Next, Falcons. All of these have a black stripe under their eyes, long bill and tail. 
Below is the smallest Falcon, an American Kestrel. 
 
Last but definitely not least, the Eagles! The biggest in North America is the Golden Eagle. These have even longer bills than all the others, way longer and sharper talons, super huge wing-span and extra long tail
Sorry there were no vultures!


 POST BY ETHAN

Monday, October 13, 2014

HOW TO HOLD A MONARCH BUTTERFLY

So lets just say for a minute that you have caught a Monarch butterfly, and you don't know how to hold    
it.
It's very simple. First take your index and second finger and gently grasp the upper part of the wings, as  
shown above.
 Secondly and last, you use the same two fingers on the other hand and grasp the first four legs (the other two are usually under the wings along with the abdomen). You can only hold butterflies like this that are in the brush-footed family because they have much stronger legs and wings. This is pretty much 
all that you need to know on how to hold a Monarch butterfly.

POST BY ETHAN


Sunday, October 12, 2014

KING OF WINGS

Hummingbirds pretty much are the king of all fliers. The reason for this is, unlike other birds, is that they flap their wings in figure-eights!!! This is what gives them their amazing maneuverability.
When they want to go up, they push harder on the downward stroke. For down, harder on the upward stroke, etc. They can even hover while they are feeding! 
 This is one beautiful (and cool) little bird.  

POST BY ETHAN

NOT JUST A FALLEN LOG

A fallen log can be one of the best places to find all sorts of cool plants, animals and funguses. There can be woodpeckers, beetles, mice, slugs and all sorts of God's amazing creations. It's a mini food-web in there. First of all, a tree falls and over the course of a year or more, little creatures start moving in to their miniature apartment house. First in the food-web comes the fungus, decomposing and eating the log. Slugs and snails also help break down the log. Next come the spiders and beetles. They eat the slugs, and their dung, along with the non-toxic types of fungus. Last but not least come the mice and woodpeckers, eating all the spiders and beetles. These are just a few of the amazing wonders of God's creation, all inside this ugly, rotten and moldy log.                                                                                                    

POST BY ETHAN

MANTIS OR WALKINGSTICK

The walkingstick is one of God's greatest creations when it comes to camouflage. They are related to mantids, but in most ways they are as different as a goblin and a fairy princess. For starters, walkingsticks are herbivores, and mantids are carnivores. Another is that walkingsticks have much longer, thread-like legs than a mantis does. Mantids have shorter, stronger legs for catching and holding on to their prey, while walkingsticks have no need of this
 Do you see the difference?

video
 One more difference, walkingsticks are much slower than mantids, as shown in the video above.
But one thing that they both have in common is camouflage. Depending on color, they can sit on a twig    or flower without being noticed at all! How amazing Gods creation is!!!                                              

POST BY ETHAN                                                                                                                              

Monday, October 6, 2014

OUR LONE SURVIVOR

The Monarch is definitely the most amazing (and beautiful) butterfly in North America. They are very easy to raise, so, we did.                                                                                                                                    All you need is:                                                                                                                      
  • A non-air tight container with holes in top to make sure that the caterpillars have plenty of air.
  • A poop catcher (I used a sheet of paper, you really need this because they poop a whole lot).
  • Milkweed (the caterpillars will only eat plants that are in this family).
  • Something for them to pupate on, such as a twig or they may rather use the lid of the container.



I went into a field to catch Monarchs to tag, but instead I found something better, a huge Monarch caterpillar! I plucked him and his plant, and I went out to see if I could find any more. This I did and succeeded, I found about 6. 



I took them inside and put them in my container with the poop-catcher (paper) in the bottom. I provided them with fresh milkweed when needed. They munched and munched  and grew and grew until most of them were huge. However only one of them lived, the lone survivor.

          One way to keep your milkweed fresh is to put it in a zip-lock baggy and refrigerate.

Welp, our caterpillar grew to pupation point, and this he did. He hung from a pair of claspers at the end of his body (ours chose the ceiling to hang from) and turned green and wrinkly (He had not fully developed his cocoon just yet). We found the shriveled skin underneath the cocoon.



Here it is fully devoloped.

 Finally it went from this... 

 all the way to this!!!

 You could actually see the wings and abdomen developing inside of that tiny little chrysalis.

 The very morning after it turned blue, we all of the sudden found this! We tagged and released our little lone survivor, and as soon as he was out of our hands, he started on his long, hard journey South.


POST BY ETHAN