Did you notice more birds than usual this spring around your yard? Watch the video of this this virtual event held on July 7, 2020. Our Bird Box Team discussed the birds you might have seen nesting around your yard this summer and covered the basics of bluebird box monitoring and maintenance. We also had a special guest and bluebird expert, Ken Leister.
If you missed our Fireflies, Moths, and Your Yard in the Dark presentation, watch the video to learn about our only bioluminescent beetle, the firefly, and how you can help these and other insects that enchant the night. Presentation by Blake Goll, Education Programs Manager on June 24, 2020.
Blake mentioned some fun and informative online resources and books during her program. Here they are if you missed them and would like to continue to learn about fireflies.
Silent Sparks This is the website for the book by Sara Lewis: it contains great information about fireflies including videos and even a TED talk to help you learn more about the fascinating world of fireflies.
Firefly Watch Get involved counting fireflies in your yard for citizen science! Also see live distribution maps of firefly activity.
Butterflies and Moths of North America Participate in citizen science by observing moths in your yard at night. Also use this database for researching moths in your area including their host plants!
Blake’s Favorite Books
Silent Sparks by Sara Lewis
Sam and the Firefly by P.D. Eastman
The Very Lonely Firefly by Eric Carle
The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle
For learning about singing insects of the night:
The Songs of Insects by Lang Elliott
Cricket Radio by John Himmelman
How do I enter?
-Snap a photo at of one of Willistown Conservation Trust’s three preserves
-Follow Willistown Conservation Trust on Facebook and/ or @wctrust on Instagram.
-Share and tag the photo using Willistown Conservation Trust @wctrust.org (Facebook) and/ or @wctrust (Instagram) in the photo caption.
-Include #wctrust in your post.
How do I win?
-The post with the most likes on Instagram and/ or Facebook will win.
-All photos must be posted between May 15 and June 1, 2020.
-The winner will be notified via direct message by the Willistown Conservation Trust on or after June 2, 2020.
How many winners and what do I win?
There will be one winner for the contest. The prize is a Rushton Farm goodie bag, including a Rushton Farm apron, tea towel, two hats, car magnet, large and small honey dipper, Rushton Farm Honey and a free CSA share on the date of your choice (to be arranged in advance with Willistown Conservation Trust). As well as freshly cut flowers from Rushton Farm!
Can I post more than once?
Of course! Please abide by the above rules and add as many pictures of our beautiful preserves as you would like.
By participating in this contest, you are consenting that the Willistown Conservation Trust can use your photo(s) with suggested photo credit in future social media posts and publications.
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.
In 1970, millions of Americans pledged to start a movement to be better stewards of our planet Earth. As we prepare to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the now global movement called Earth Day, we are faced with an unprecedented reality.
While typical day to day life for many humans is on hold, nature doesn’t stop. The birds continue their annual migration and breeding season, our streams are flowing with spring rains, and the seeds in our greenhouse and the grasses and wildflowers in our native meadows are bursting with new life. Among the earth’s spring renewal, humans are discovering the nurturing, restorative power of nature. A simple walk through the woods or fields provides us with respite and peace.
This miracle felt especially true over Easter weekend as I explored Ashbridge Preserve with our nine-year-old twin grandchildren, Grace and James. After being quarantined indoors for three weeks, their joy in being free in the outdoors, skipping the Ridley Creek stepping stones and discovering the emerging spring plants and creatures was a palpable gift to hold and treasure.
While the earth has the power to heal humans, we in turn, have the power to help heal the earth. Willistown Conservation Trust’s holistic approach to land protection, with a focus on the connections among land, farm, birds, and water, protects native habitat and provides open space for our earth to heal itself.
Even as new studies show that grassland bird populations have declined by over 50% since 1970, hearing the song of the returning Eastern Meadowlark fluting across our preserved grassland habitat at Kirkwood Preserve gives me great hope. The newly sown peas at Rushton Farm are showing their first green tendrils of life and the skunk cabbage at Rushton Woods Preserve has completely unfurled. The first trillium have emerged at Ashbridge Preserve, dotting the woods with cheerful color.
As you think about Earth Day this year, I encourage you to seek out nature to find inspiration, healing and hope. Just as the earth renews each spring, we will resume our our regular lives once again, perhaps transformed with a deeper connection to our planet earth.
With warmest regards,
One of my childhood memories that has not faded throughout the years is from “Outdoor School,” which was basically a week-long field trip to a local nature center. Simply reporting to a nature preserve instead of school everyday with my classmates was enchanting on its own. One of the lessons, however, really got my attention: role-playing the Native American way of life. I remember the instructor telling us about how connected they were to the land and how even when they walked it was with respect to the earth. Following her lead, I picked my way delicately among the leaves —rolling my foot from the heal through the outside edge and then finally the ball and toe. This was, she explained, how Native Americans could stealthily walk through the woods without making a sound during hunting trips.
Role playing is such a wonderful way for children to mentally escape and be transported to a different time and place. Making nature headdresses is one such activity that fully engages a child’s creativity and focus while exercising fine motor skills and communication. I got this activity from a marvelous little book called Play the Forest School Way by Peter Houghton and Jane Worroll. The book is full of great ideas for outdoor play and is an essential resource for parents, especially during this time.
Start with introducing the concept of a headdress to your child. For example, in England a king or queen wore a crown with jewels to represent nobility, or a Native American chief may have been awarded a feather in his headdresses for an act of courage. Then explain to your child that they will be creating their own headdress and embellishing it with items found in nature; these items can be chosen to personally represent themselves and/or transform themselves into a mythical deity, woodland fairy, or other character of their imagination.
All you will need prepared ahead of time is a long strip of sturdy plain white paper or posterboard. It should be 3-4 inches wide and long enough to go around the child’s head. You can help the child with fitting the strip to their head and cutting it to the right length; be sure to mark on the strip where the ends will overlap with tape so the child knows not to decorate that little section. Put a piece of double-sided tape along the length of the strip, onto which the child will stick bits of grass, seeds, flowers, twigs, feathers, and whatever else they find. (You will also need regular tape to put over top of the embellishments to secure them in place, and to tape the ends of the strip together once they are finished decorating—a stapler will also work.)
When you set the child loose to look for their embellishments (whether in your yard, a woodland, or nature preserve), I found it is easiest to have them gather their items and then bring them back to a work space rather than bring the paper strip with them during the foraging. It is easier for them to focus on foraging first and designing and sticking things to their headdress second. And boy do they design! You will be amazed at the beautiful works of art that your child will create.
Be sure to have your child explain their creative decision process when they are finished. What does each decoration symbolize? Why did he/she choose that item? What was the role of that decoration in the natural world? Who have they become with the headdress on? How does it make them feel? Are there animals in nature that create works of art or use decorations? Can you think of animals with headdresses of sorts?
Last but not least, don’t forget to take a picture of your child wearing the headdress since unfortunately these do not last in their original form for very long. They are, however, guaranteed to last a lifetime in your child’s memory.
Rushton Nature Keepers
Blake manages our Rushton Nature Keepers (RNK) club for children ages 7-11. Through year-round programs covering four conservation themes (birds and wildlife, regenerative farming, healthy habitat, and watersheds), RNK provides children with unique opportunities to develop a meaningful life-long relationship with nature. Although things are subject to change regarding Covid-19, we plan to resume children’s activities on May 2nd. Click here for the schedule of RNK programs and membership information.