Unofficial Weaver Pages

Unofficial Weaver Pages

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Basic Facts in Nature

Things Learned from Observation

The first year after moving into our current home was one of discovery. Living so close to a nature park brought a great deal of wildlife into our yard. As my children and I studied the various creatures, we learned some interesting things.

Butterflies Tickle

Butterflies tickle when they walk on your arm. We learned this in the spring, after our parsley caterpillars emerged from their winter chrysalises as black swallowtail butterflies. It was neat to let them cling to our shirts as they slowly worked their wings. I'll never forget the feel of those tiny feet as they crept down my arm toward my fingers.

Turtles Have Built-in GPS

If you see a turtle crossing the street, don't think you're "saving" it by picking it up and placing it back where it came from. Most turtles will turn around and try to cross the road once again. Crossing a busy street is dangerous for a turtle, but once they decide to go, they go. They do so for only two reasons: 1) to find high ground to lay eggs, or 2) to find water. You can find the females crossing in the spring, and young turtles crossing in the fall. Turtles navigate by scent and visual landmarks.

Ants Have Smelly Feet

Have you ever watched a trail of ants? It can get to be an inch or more wide, depending on the number of ants traveling the trail. Plain water won't wash away the smell. Even bleach, known to kill bacteria and germs, cannot stop ants from following the trail left by other ants. But, talcum or chalk powder can! It's said that a pile of talc is similar to a snowdrift for the ants. It's also possible the fine particles of powder hinder their sense of smell, causing them to lose the trail. Try it! The next time you see a line of ants, sprinkle a line of baby powder across it and watch the ants get confused!

Frogs are Not Biased

When it's time to mate, frogs will grab hold of any frog that comes near them—even if that frog is actually a toad. Silly creatures! Did you know that all toads are frogs, but not all frogs are toads? Some people call them cousins, but in reality toads are a sub-group of frogs. (It's kind of like squares and rectangles. All squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares. I'll give you time to think about that.) Toads are drier, with shorter legs and bumpier skin. If you're not sure which has taken up residency in your pool, check the eggs. Frogs lay eggs in clusters, while toads lay "strings" of eggs.

Birds Need Their Space

Have you ever noticed those birds up there, sitting on that wire? Look how evenly spaced they are! They don't get too close to the other birds. I've been watching, and it looks like they stay about half a wingspan apart. They need the room for preening, and for unfolding their wings prior to taking flight. I've noticed this with our parakeets, too. When in their cage, they get right in each others' faces. But when they're out of the cage, sitting on a doorframe, or curtain rod, they like their space.

Have you taken the time to look around lately? What is nature teaching you? If you'd like a great book about nature, try The Handbook of Nature Study, by Anna Botsford Comstock—a great addition to any library.

© 2010 Kelly Huckaby
The HOME Writer