On our latest walkabout, we came across a very interesting find.
We found this lovely Pink Edged Sulphur butterfly.
We looked it up and found two clues that told us this little guy is not from around these parts.
First, Pink-Edged Sulpher caterpillars feed mostly on blueberries. Blueberries do not grow well in our area though.
We also found a map showing the range of Pink Edged Sulphers. Turns out that they are very common in Canada, and the northernmost part of the United States... FAR from Texas.
Our best guess is that this guy has been wintering here, or even farther south, and is slowly making his way north.
Butterflies only live for a few months at best though. So, our theory is that he was on his way north,to where blueberries grow. Perhaps he would have mated there, and eventually his mate's eggs would have hatched a new batch of Pink Edged Sulphers. Those babies would have their own children, then those babies would have children.
Our Pink Edged Sulpher's great great grand children would then head back this way next fall!
This was all very exciting to us because we had not thought about migration in this way before. The boys know that some species "go south" for the winter and then "go north" for the summer, but they had never really considered how our home, Texas, fit into that plan.
It seems that for the most part, Texas is either a winter destination or a stop along the journey for northern species.
There's also a really fabulous resource for learning about migration through ongoing experiments and observations at Journey North. We can't wait to learn all about the Journey North through their activities!
The Great Backyard Bird Count is currently underway!
The Great Backyard Bird Count (or GBBC) is an event that takes place over four days in February each year. It's very easy! All you have to do is watch birds in your yard, a nearby park, or maybe at your school. Then you tell us what you saw by entering your bird list online. We collect that information from people all over the United States and Canada so scientists can learn what kind of birds are being seen in the winter and whether there are more or fewer of them than before.
The GBBC website is a wealth of knowledge. Before you step outside into your yard, print a tally sheet for your area (zip code) to make it easy to keep track of the birds you see. This also helps narrow down species you might be likely to spot in your area. You know...all those finches seem to look similar after a while.
So far, we have counted:
a flock (est. 50-60) red wing black birds
one blue jay
two cardinals (one male and one female)
three house sparrows
one red headed woodpecker
Visit the GBBC kids page for printable bird color sheets, games and more information.
The GBBC site also links to the All About Birds site which is another useful website for young "birders". We looked up each of the species by name that we had listed and could see detailed photos and hear their sounds. My three year old really loved the sounds.
Here is a link to the flickr set we have established to track our bird sightings.
It is February, smack-dab in the middle of winter. Even here in Virginia, February can get pretty cold and cloudy. Well...cold enough to not be at the beach for several months. If you dare head toward the oceanfront, be prepared for beating sand and wild, frosty winds.
But this past weekend was a special gift. An early Valentine's Day present, if you will. Intended to show us all once again, there is beauty to be seen everywhere...even in winter.
With the warmer temperatures, we met some friends at the beach for a quick dinner and lots of running around with found pieces of driftwood as swords.
I had not paid attention to the tide charts. To be honest, I don't even think about the tides in the winter. But when we arrived, we immediately noticed a huge full moon suspended right above the horizon. And a lower than normal low tide. It was a great time to talk about how the moon (and the sun) is responsible for the rise and fall of the ocean levels on our beach.
Yesterday, we researched it a bit more and found these sites to be very helpful.
Nature— the sublime, the harsh, and the beautiful— offers something that the street or gated community or computer game cannot. Nature presents the young with something so much greater than they are; it offers an environment where they can easily contemplate infinity and eternity. —Richard Louv