Sunday, March 17, 2013

Outdoor Hour Nature Challenge - Squirrels

This year we have been experiencing a rather long and snowy winter, so we have done many of our nature studies indoors or outdoors for a limited time. Needless to say, we are looking forward to spring.

For this week's Outdoor Hour Nature Challenge, we focused on squirrels. We read from the Handbook of Nature Study book as well as looked at the Handbook of Nature Study blog for ideas and information about squirrels. We also read a couple of new books this year about squirrels since we did a study about squirrels last year as well.

Squirrel at Feeder
Last year the girls built a squirrel feeder and put ears of corn on it.
The squirrels enjoyed visiting it and eating the kernels of corn.

We talked about different squirrels that we have seen around our yard as well as unusual ones we have seen at different locations in Minnesota. The black and albino squirrels are ones that stand out as the most memorable ones.

Albino squirrel
Albino squirrel we saw at the 
Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Bloomington.

This past summer we visited Lake Shetek State Park in southwestern Minnesota. There was an interpretive center there that had a variety of [dead/stuffed] animals on display that visitors could touch. One of the animals was a squirrel.

The girls and I took the squirrel and skunk displays outside and took a couple of pictures in a more natural setting. Sophia picked the squirrel to take pictures with while Olivia picked the skunk. 

They were having fun and joking around as they were putting the squirrel and skunk in different settings (e.g., on the grass, holding them, on the tree trunk). Those pictures are some of their favorite ones from the trip.

Holding the Squirrel
Sophia holding the squirrel that was on display at the
Lake Shekek State Park.

During the winter, we do see some squirrel activity - mostly squirrels trying to get some food from the bird feeders.

Squirrel Eating at the Birdfeeder
Squirrel eating a seed at one of the bird feeders.

We also see evidence under the pine trees that they have been eating.

Driveway - Pinecone and Seeds
Pine cones that have been eaten by squirrels.

We also see little squirrel tracks in the snow.

Squirrel Prints in Snow
Squirrel tracks in the snow in the front yard.

Sophia and Olivia both wrote in their nature journal after we read the different books, talked about squirrels, and looked outside for evidence of squirrels.

Olivia's journal entry about squirrels.

Sophia also drew some images that tied into what she wrote about squirrels.

Sophia's nature journal entry about squirrels.


Heidi Lyn Burke said...

Ohmygosh! Our home has been overrun by squirrels lately. This post is well timed for me.


Barb McCoy said...

And our family has seen a decrease in squirrel activity this past year...we attribute it to the neighbor who cut down some mighty fine evergreens that I think the squirrels used as a home and for food.

We miss our squirrels as much bother as they were in the birdfeeders.

Thanks for sharing your entry with the OHC Carnival.

walking said...

What lovely nature notebook entries! :-)

Carla Gull said...

Lovely squirrel study! I rarely see squirrels in our yard, even though we are out in the country and have plenty of trees around. We are at a local nature center a lot, though, and have active black squirrels there (color variant of the grey).