August Cub Scout Roundtable Issue
Volume 6, Issue 12
Toughen Up (Webelos Naturalist & Forester)
Two months ago I used the wrong Webelos Theme. You will find Artist and Traveler in the June issue. Naturalist and Forester should have been covered then, so I am covering them now.
Cut a bird out of art foam, color of your choice. Paint on details and glue three pieces of pipe cleaner on for tail. Glue on eyes and pipe cleaner on back.
Use a clear scrub brush for this easy feeder. Melt some bacon grease or lard in a pan, then dip the brush into it. Sprinkle birdseed mix onto the bristles. As the fat congeals, the seeds will stick. Tie the brush to a tree in a safe spot.
Phenology is the study of periodic changes in plants and animals as they respond to weather, climate, and the seasons. Each spring we anxiously await the first returning robin in the hope of warmer weather. Or I look for the returning Goldfinch. That is a phenological event. It happens every year but the return date depends a lot on the weather. Migration and flowering are two more examples of phenological events.
One good thing about personal observations is that anything in nature is fair game. The arrival of the first robin or goldfinch in spring might be a typical entry in a phenologist's notebook. Another might be the first observation of a flashing firefly in summer. Or how about the return of those pesky dandelions The last snow or frost of Spring, or the date of the first mosquito bite of the season are entries for the budding Phrenologist.
It is a matter of selecting subjects of interest and then setting up a routine for collecting and comparing your data.
The best observations for comparison purposes are those that are made from the same location from year to year. For plant life, a specific site (such as a flower garden) is commonly used. Sometimes, the same plant is a good indicator. For birds, migration, mating rituals or nesting dates are frequently recorded. Birds using flyways migrating from the south back north is yet another observation. The last snow or frost of Spring, the date a local lake freezes in the autumn or the date of the first mosquito bite of the season are all phenological possibilities. A good thing about personal observations is that anything in nature is fair game
Buy or print blank calendar pages on your computer and have the boys fill in the dates for the month. Post the calendar in the kitchen, so it's handy to jot down "things of nature". List one or two things each day; cardinals at the bird feeder, grass turning green. Full moon in the sky, etc.
Encourage the boys to keep a phenonlogy calendar for a whole year. Then they can look back and compare nature's cycles.
The Nut Collectors
Six squirrels began to gather hickory nuts and put them into a large basket. The squirrels worked so fast that the number of nuts in the basket was doubled at the end of every minute. The basket was completely full at the end of ten minutes. How many minutes had it taken the squirrels to get the basket half full.
ANSWER--If the number of nuts in the basket doubled at the end of every minute, the basket must have been half full in nine minutes. Then, after one more minute, the half would be doubled, thus filling the other half of the basket.
Rare Bird Facts
Animal Footprint Casts
The boys would probably enjoy having a permanent record of critters in the area. This activity shows you how to do just that.
First, find footprints. Check your garden or flowerbeds. A walk through the park or woods will undoubtedly yield some interesting signs of life. Dig up the prints with a small shovel, maintaining enough dirt on all sides to keep it from falling apart.
Carefully place the footprint in a cardboard box or plastic container.
When you return home, mix up a batch of plaster (buy it at the hardware store and follow the directions). Pour the plaster into the footprint and let it harden. (If the soil containing the print is dry, moisten it with a spray bottle first so you'll have a smooth cast.) Even the top of the plaster with a piece of cardboard, wood, or trowel.
Once the plaster has dried, after fifteen minutes or so, brush off the dirt, turn over the cast, and you should have an excellent replica of the bottom of the animal's foot. Allow the cast to dry completely overnight and then paint it, if you like. Let your child's friends and relatives guess its origins.
Now, just what is that creature that's been prowling around the backyard?
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