A Note To Parents: We make every effort for Roxanne's blog to be a SAFE site for children. Whenever possible, activities are in pdf format or link to safe sites for children. Please feel free to use the information in these posts for homeschool studies! All rights reserved by author and nature photographer, Virginia Parker Staat.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Poofy Birds

The weather has turned cold again. We have lots of birds at our feeders.

This is a picture of one of our bird friends. He is an American Finch. He is very cold.

How do I know that he is cold? He has poofed out his feathers to keep warm. When a bird puffs his feathers, the air between the feathers adds warmth.

Are the birds in your backyard cold?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Wolf Moon

Have you seen the moon tonight? I sure wish that I could! It will be the biggest moon of the year. It is called the Wolf Moon.

Our skies are cloudy tonight. I hope that tomorrow the sky will be clear. Then I can see the Wolf Moon, too!

Why is it called the Wolf Moon? Long ago, Native Americans named each moon of the year. They named January's moon the Wolf Moon.

If you would like to take a picture of the Wolf Moon, remember NASA's OWN program. (See my old post called Beautiful Moon to learn more.) Just go to http://mo-www.harvard.edu/OWN/ to use their telescope to take your photo. You will need to type in your email address and a little personal information, so please ask your mom, dad, or teacher to help you.

PS Here's the photo that we took last night with NASA's OWN program. This moon makes me want to howl!!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Playing Doggie Games

My cousin Sue has been visiting. I have been teaching her how to play. When she arrived, she only played chase. Today Sue learned how to play my very favorite doggie game. This is a movie of us playing tuggie.

Sue is much smaller than me. When we are playing, I have to be very careful not to tug too hard. I am so strong that I could launch her across the room! I don't want to hurt Sue, so I don't play too rough.

Sue and I like to growl at each other when we play. It makes the game more fun!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Are You Ready?

There is a lot of sad news about Haiti on the television now. A lot of kids worry that an earthquake might hit their home.

Almost every place on earth has a chance for a disaster. We live in hurricane country. My dad’s sister and brother live in tornado country. Mom’s mother lives in a place that gets a lot of snow and ice. We have friends that live where it floods a lot.

I think that it is better to be prepared than to worry about a disaster. Are you and your family prepared?

We are. Every spring, our family checks our hurricane emergency kit. Dad replaces the batteries from last year. Mom buys fresh canned goods. We have a list of all the things that we need. We have a special container for all of our supplies.

Are you ready? Here’s a great activity book to help you and your family. Just go to http://bereadyutah.gov/family/documents/ReadySetPrepare02.pdf. If you and your family work together, it can be fun!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Sniffer Dogs

My heart hurts for the people of Haiti. The earthquake that hit their country has left so many people injured and homeless.

The good news is that dogs will help. Search and rescue dogs from all over the world are coming to Haiti. These dogs are known as sniffer dogs.

Sniffer dogs are trained to help humans. A search and rescue team is made up of a dog and his handler.

How do sniffer dogs find people? Dogs have a special sense of smell. They use their sniffing ability to find people. The team walks around each fallen building. When the sniffer dog catches the right smell, the dog leads their handler to the trapped human.

Sniffer dogs get the job done quickly. A single dog team is better than 20 to 30 trained human searchers when looking for a missing person.

Would like to know more about sniffer dogs? Just go to http://www.fbi.gov/kids/dogs/search.htm. You can also check this great book out from your library: Meet the Search and Rescue Dogs by Christi Judah.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How Animals Keep Warm

The cold weather makes it hard for everyone to stay warm. Do you have extra blankets on your bed? Are you wearing more layers of clothes?

Animals can't put on a heavy jacket when they get cold. They must learn to adapt to the cold weather.

We have a squirrel family that lives in one of our bird houses. This winter, five squirrels live in the tiny space. They huddle together to keep warm.

This picture shows one of our squirrels. He is very smart. He laid on our black roof in the sunlight. Black absorbs heat. His belly is warm because of the roof. His top is warm because of the sunlight.

Animals adapt to the cold in many different ways. Animals with fur grow a heavier coat in the winter. Birds poof out their feathers to help them keep warm. Some animals store up fat to keep them warm in the winter months

If you would like to know more about how animals keep warm, you can print out a great little book. The book was written by Stephen Whitt. At Home in the Cold tells how Arctic animals stay warm. You can find it at http://onramp.nsdl.org/eserv/onramp:18095/at_home_45_book.pdf.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Wildlife Friendly!

Would you like to see more wildlife? It's easy! Just make your space wildlife friendly!

Animals need the same things that people need. They need water, food, and a place to live.

Any size space will work. You can hang a bird feeder outside your apartment window. You can plant trees and bushes with berries, seeds, or nuts in your yard. You can plant flowers for pollen and nectar. You can put a birdbath in your space for water.

Your family can work together to make your space wildlife friendly. It is a great school project, too! When you’re done, your space can become an official wildlife habitat with the National Wildlife Federation.

Would you like to learn more about making your yard wildlife friendly? Visit the National Wildlife Federation's website! Just go to http://www.nwf.org/Get-Outside/Outdoor-Activities/Garden-for-Wildlife/Create-a-Habitat.aspx

Friday, January 8, 2010

Feeding Wildlife

This morning, we put out food for our squirrel friends. Within minutes, this squirrel came down to eat. He was really hungry!

Our yard has lots of plants with berries and nuts for the squirrels to eat. But when the weather gets really cold, we set out extra food. We have a special winter mix for small wildlife. We give them sunflower seeds, peanuts, corn, and squash seeds.

We don't feed our wildlife during warm weather. We want to keep wildlife wild!

Is it safe for us to feed the wild animals in our area? We don't have any dangerous wildlife near our home. If we did, we certainly would not give them any food. It is especially important not to put out food in bear country. When animals become use to people food, they can become dangerous.

Should you feed the animals in your backyard? Most experts say no. If you would like to learn more about feeding wildlife, go to http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/FEATURE/backyard/pdf/wildlife.pdf.

If it is safe for you to feed the small wildlife in your yard during cold weather, please use only natural foods. Foods like bread and other people food aren't good for wildlife. Most people food doesn't have the nutritional value animals need. It also contains salt and sugar.

Would like to see more animals in your yard? Plant bushes and trees that produce nuts and berries. Give wildlife places to hide. Make sure that your yard has fresh water. Next time, I'll tell you how to make your yard a wildlife habitat.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Keeping Your Pets Warm

It's cold outside! I have never seen it this cold in Texas. The weather reports say that it is going to get even colder. It will be in the teens for the next few nights.

Please be sure to keep your pets warm. If possible, bring them inside. The Humane Society has a lot of good ideas to keep your pet safe. Go to http://www.kkqy.com/petoftheweek/ColdWeatherTips.pdf to learn more.

If you can, please remember the wild animals, too. Food is hard to find in the winter. If you can, please leave extra seed and water out for them.

I hope that you are warm and toasty, too!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Whooping Cranes

Texas is the winter home of a very special kind of bird. Whooping cranes are the tallest birds in North America. Their wing span is nearly eight feet wide. Their feathers are white except for black wing tips. They have bright yellow eyes and a patch of red skin on their heads.

Including birds living in zoos, there are only about 530 whooping cranes in the entire world. This year, 288 whoopers flew back to Texas. The flock included 21 chicks that were born this spring.

In the summer, whoopers live in Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada. Every fall, they fly 2,400 miles to the Aransas Wildlife Refuge. Aransas is located on the Texas Gulf Coast.

Whoopers arrive in Texas around November. They live in the marsh land along the Gulf Coast. They eat blue crabs and crawfish.

In April, the whoopers fly back to Canada. They build their nests and raise their babies there. When the air turns cold in Canada, they fly once again to their Texas winter home.

For more information on whooping cranes, go to http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild/wild/species/whooper/ . You can also read my mom's story about whoopers by checking out this book from your library: Milkweed Edition's Stories from Where We Live: The Gulf Coast.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Texas Birds

The weather has turned very cold for Texas. We rarely have freezes during the winter. But this year we have already had five or six frosty mornings.

On really cold mornings, the birds flock to our feeders. This morning, four blue jays came to eat peanuts. Mom took this photo of two of them.

Some of the birds that visit our feeders live here all year long. We have red cardinals. We have black and white chickadees. We have several kinds of woodpeckers. We also have lots of doves and sparrows.

Texas has more birds than any other state. We have over 600 different kinds of birds. Because Texas is so big, it has both eastern and western birds. We are also on the great flyway, so we have lots of visitors from up north that winter in Texas.

We have many winter friends that come to our feeders. The bright yellow American finch come every year. Red robins visit. Sometimes even Rufus hummingbirds come.

Would you like to learn more about Texas birds? You can download a wonderful booklet with lots of activities and information. Just go to http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/publications/pwdpubs/media/pwd_bk_p4000_0038.pdf

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

It has been a busy week at our house. The day after Christmas, Mom and Dad started tearing out our kitchen. The floor is busted out. All the cabinets are gone. Mom is painting. Dad is hammering and sawing. It's a mess!

This afternoon, we all took a break. We sat on the deck and had some fun. I got a bone to chew. Chewing bones is one of my favorite things to do!

We talked about all the wonderful times we had in 2009. Then we talked about all our plans for 2010. We're going to go to Alaska! We're going to drive there next summer. I can't wait!

I hope that your New Year's celebration was fun. I'm looking forward to 2010. Are you?