Fresh Approaches to Wildlife Viewing!
What an exciting time it has been for us this schoolyear! While we generally eschew technology for analog methods, we have embraced the 21st century with a wildlife viewing camera! While my personal goal is to capture images of a flying squirrel (I’ve read there are more of them than the gray squirrel, but they are more elusive because they are nocturnal!), we have been enjoying solving the mysteries of what visitors we have when we aren’t around. We have mostly seen possum and racoons, but anticipate more animals as we gradually exit winter and enter spring. This is incorporated in an ongoing lesson on the biodiversity of animal species right here in our backyard of Mt. Airy Forest. A big helper has been the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. They offer a wide range of learning materials and resources. The best part: it’s free!! If you aren’t taking advantage of this wonderful resource for your outdoor classroom, don’t waste another minute!
We have also been able to fulfill a longtime desire to tap our trees! Mary Dudley, agriculture education teacher at James N. Gamble Montessori High School (and one of our Board members!) visited us a couple weeks ago with a student and another associate, Howard Zuefle of Verdure Landscaping, LLC, who loaned us the materials and helped us tap our trees! Mr. Z worked with the children to ensure there was understanding and gratitude for the gift of the sap that the trees were sharing with us. The children were almost as excited as we were! Boiling the sap and allowing it to cool, we have enjoyed a little treat by simply sipping the sap. We can’t wait to try and make syrup! I wonder what we’ll try it on…
We continue to feed and watch the birds, though the ice and snow have forced us to put away our bird watch box, which contains laminated photos of the most common birds and some recently purchased monoculars. It is marvelous how many birds the feeders attract, especially during the winter months. We enjoy noting the various birds that we don’t normally see during the other parts of the year, especially the number of cardinals, which tend to flock to our feeders during the winter months. Interestingly, we noticed far fewer cardinals in the past couple days compared to the past several weeks! Maybe it’s a sign that spring is around the corner!
We have been loving winter, but are already beginning to dream of Spring!