By: Carol Suits
Liberty Wildlife Volunteer
Kids who help nature are Superheroes! How can you help nature in the winter?
Wildlife in Winter
http://tinyurl.com/5538mxzm Give birds a helping hand in winter
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXbmxszPbtM Here’s an easy way to help birds!
How do animals keep warm in winter? Some animals migrate to go to warmer places while others stay and hibernate or use their fur or feathers to adapt to the cold.
Owls + Owls + Owls = Fun stuff for Superheroes to know!
An owl down feather
Owls can keep warm in winter by fluffing up their feathers for insulation. This is an owl down feather. These down feathers are soft and fluffy and trap air next to the body to keep the owl warm.
Find out about owls and play the Bertie Owl game. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UzCR2wmmjg How many times did you see Bertie the owl mascot? I only saw him 5 times. Right??
Look at the difference between owls and falcons. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a68fIQzaDBY
Owl’s feathers = quiet hunting! Falcon’s feathers = Not so quiet, but it has other skills!
What do owls eat? You can be a detective just like the ones in this video. Check out the owl pellets at the Teen Club table. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9azuEJnlQs
Animal Cam – Watch a bald eagle baby in its nest.
https://dickpritchettrealestate.com/southwest-florida-eagle-cam/?cam=1 This baby eaglet was
born on December 31, 2023, at 7:07 A.M.
A Valentine Science Experiment
A cool Valentine science experiment you can do with just candy hearts and soda!
The Superhero Club will be meeting February 17th at 9 A.M. If you would like to become a member for the fall semester, please email Carol Suits at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Listen to that Egg!
By Claudia Kirscher
Liberty Wildlife Contributor
Eggs have amazing development. There is a wide variation in incubation times of various birds: Canary 13 days, pigeons 16-19 days, chickens 21 days, Bobwhite quail 23-24 days, ducks 28 days, Bald Eagle 32-35 days, and ostrich 42 days.
As incubation proceeds, the inner layers of the shell are dissolved by their acidic environment and the calcium carbonate that had been part of the shell is incorporated into the skeleton of the fetus.
Amazingly, some birds and reptiles can do “intra-egg communication.”
Studies have shown that late stage embryos in bird eggs can communicate with each other ( as well as with the parents).
For example, a clutch of quail eggs will begin clicking (and some type of vocalization) 12-18 hours before hatching, resulting in all eggs hatching within the same time frame, including eggs laid later.
Also, baby turtles signal each other with vibrations to trigger synchronized hatching.
Researchers have found that baby birds hear and absorb their parents’ chirping and singing commands while waiting to hatch, much like babies in utero get accustomed to their parents’ voices from inside the womb.
Chicks hear, learn and respond to alarm calls of the parents while still in the egg and once they hatch they continue to do so.
Some female birds sing to their unhatched eggs. A study showed that those birds that grew up in the same nest (and sung to) used a similar tune to beg for food from their parents.
Nature is amazing, isn’t it?!
References: Newsweek.com, newsstand.com, Time magazine, sciencealert.com
By Gail Cochrane
Liberty Wildlife Volunteer
Sometimes my dog Eli and I slip into the fenced playground of the school nearby, so he can run and chase a ball. We go at first light when no one else is around. The other day as we circled the backside of the property, we came upon a herd of four javelinas moving up the desert hillside adjacent the school yard. They looked so large on the landscape, compared to my usual wildlife sightings of quails, thrashers and antelope squirrels. Almost like a group of mini buffalo! A dog barked crazily from a backyard nearby, breaking the early morning stillness.
Javelinas are common across the Sonoran Desert region, and also in neighborhoods that link to desert habitat. They come into yards to eat tasty petunias, so tender and juicy, as well as prickly pear cacti that they tear with their long sharp canines (their javelins). Sharp hooves dig up the roots of shrubs.
Eli stopped all his ball chasing and stood taut, watching the javelinas make their way towards the rocky area that capped the ridge. A large javelina led two smaller adults who trailed close behind, and a youngster scampered at their sides. They moved along steadily.
An older, experienced sow generally leads the herd, deciding when and where they will eat, drink and bed down. With males being larger than females, individuals range in size from 40-60 pounds. Babies weigh just one pound at birth and are usually born as twins.
With very poor vision, javelinas depend on their sense of smell. They produce a musky perfume that helps them recognize members of the herd. The scent envelopes the entire group as they move through the desert, and helps them stay together. A herd may be 2-20 strong and defends a territory of 700-800 acres.
When the javelinas crested the ridge and disappeared, I sighed in relief. I threw the ball a few more times then the two of us circled back the way we came, past where the javelinas had first appeared, heading home. Suddenly Eli became completely still, transfixed by the desert hillside, or something on it. Here came one of the javelinas, trotting purposefully towards the fence, and beyond it, Eli and I.
It appeared that with the rest of the herd and especially the baby in safety, this individual had come back to chase us away. Rabbits and coyotes have dug passages under the fence in a number of places. I was not convinced that this feisty javelina would not come on through if necessary. Not many predators will take on an adult javelina, but coyotes and bobcats will prey on the babies. Eli running around in the field below their hideout apparently was cause for concern, whether they could smell him or make out his form.
We did retreat right away of course, and the very next day Eli got a nice perfumy shampoo. Just in case.
Note in picture: Javelina or Collared Peccary and young.