Oregon Nature Quiz: Boy Scout Rank Wildlife Edition

To finish up his Second Class rank requirements for Boy Scouts recently, I was helping my little man find photographs of wildlife that he has observed. As we dug through our photo archives, I was reminded of a fun little Oregon Nature Quiz: Early Summer Edition that I posted several months ago. I had posted it with the intention of making it a quarterly series but sadly, life distracted me and I let it slip my mind.

Oregon Nature Quiz #2: Wildlife Edition

How Well Do You Know Oregon?

Here are five of the photos my son selected to submit to his Scoutmaster. Can you identify the wildlife represented here? Whose Been Here? Oregon Nature Quiz: Boy Scout Rank Wildlife Edition @EvaVarga.net

Who Am I? Oregon Nature Quiz: Boy Scout Rank Wildlife Edition @EvaVarga.net

What Happened Here? Oregon Nature Quiz: Boy Scout Rank Wildlife Edition @EvaVarga.net

I'm Friendly. Or Am I? Oregon Nature Quiz: Boy Scout Rank Wildlife Edition @EvaVarga.net

My, What Big Teeth You Have. Oregon Nature Quiz: Boy Scout Rank Wildlife Edition @EvaVarga.net

Answers:

1. North American Raccoon tracks along the banks of a river

In the wild, raccoons often dabble for underwater food near the shore-line. They then often pick up the food item with their front paws to examine it and rub the item, sometimes to remove unwanted parts. This gives the appearance of the raccoon “washing” the food.

Originally, raccoon habitats were solely deciduous and mixed forests, but due to their adaptability they have extended their range to mountainous areas, coastal marshes, and even urban areas. Though previously thought to be solitary, there is now evidence that raccoons engage in gender-specific social behavior. Related females often share a common area, while unrelated males live together in groups of up to four animals to maintain their positions against foreign males during the mating season, and other potential invaders.

Intrigued by animal tracks and wildlife signs? Check out these ideas for Exploring Animal Tracks with students.

2. Pacific Tree Frog

Pacific tree frogs are common on the Pacific coast of Oregon and Washington. They occur in shades of greens or browns and can change colors over periods of hours and weeks. They occur in shades of greens or browns and can change colors over periods of hours and weeks. Eggs of the Pacific tree frog may be consumed by the rough-skinned newt and other amphibians.

They are found upland in ponds, streams, lakes and sometimes even further away from water. The Pacific tree frog makes its home in riparian habitat, as well as woodlands, grassland, chaparral, pasture land, and even urban areas including back yard ponds.

3. Black Bear claw marks and Acorn Woodpecker holes on the trunk of an apple tree

In the early fall, when the apples are ripe, it is not uncommon to see claw marks on apple trees, particularly in old pioneer orchards that have been abandoned. Brown and American black bears are generally diurnal, meaning that they are active for the most part during the day, though they may also forage at night.

Most bears have diets of more plant than animal matter and are completely opportunistic omnivores. Knowing when plants are ripe for eating is a learned behavior. Bears may mark territory by rubbing against trees and other objects which may serve to spread their scent. This is usually accompanied by clawing and biting the object.

Interested in learning more about animals and the study of wildlife? Check out these great animal webcams.

4. Golden Mantle Ground Squirrel

Scientists classify the golden-mantled ground squirrel as a true ground squirrel, though it will climb trees to reach seeds. Its genus name Spermophilus is Greek for “seed loving.” Like other ground squirrels, the golden-mantle packs seeds and fruit in its cheek pouches and stores the food in burrows, puts on a thick layer of fat, and hibernates in winter. Golden-mantled ground squirrels eat their stored food in early spring, when seeds and fruit are scarce. In addition to seeds and fruit, the omnivorous ground squirrel eats fungi, insects, bird eggs, small vertebrates, and carrion.

Though the golden-mantled ground squirrel can vocalize, it remains silent most of the time. When alarmed, it chirps and squeals. Though not especially aggressive, it growls when fighting with other ground squirrels. Though tempting, it’s not a good idea to feed these or any other wild animals; it distracts them from searching for natural foods, which they must eat in large quantities to survive. Unlike most other ground squirrels, the golden mantle is a loner. It only spends time with others of its kind as a youngster with its mother and siblings.

5. North American Beaver teeth marks on the trunk of an oak tree

Beaver (Castor Canadensis) are known for building dams, canals, and lodges (homes). Their colonies create one or more dams to provide still, deep water to protect against predators, and to float food and building material. While they don’t generally use trees of the size pictured here in their dams, it is fascinating to watch the process of a beaver dam under construction which play a critical role in the ecology of our streams. Learn more in my post, The Industrious Beaver: Nature’s Engineers.

Oregon Nature Quiz – First Summer Edition

I have always loved the outdoors and enjoy sharing my passion for nature study with others. I’ve recently completed my coursework to become a certified Oregon Master Naturalist.

To celebrate, I thought it would be fun to create a little quiz to help you get to know Oregon a little better. My vision is to create a new quiz every quarter.

Oregon Nature Quiz #1

How Well Do You Know Oregon?

Here are five photos of plants and animals that are found on the Oregon Coast. Can you identify them? (Hint: All of these photos were taken on the Oregon coast)

  1. What kind of rodent is this?

mammal

2. What is this creepy looking black thing?

fungi

3. Can you name this flower?

flower

4. Is this cutie a lizard or amphibian? Can you identify the genus?

herp

5. This invertebrate is a common sight along the trails and even in our gardens. What is it? slug

Answers:

1. The California ground squirrel (Otospermophilus beeches) is pictured here on the rocky shoreline in Depoe Bay. The squirrel’s upper parts are mottled, the fur containing a mixture of gray, light brown and dusky hairs; the underside is lighter, buff or grayish yellow. The fur around the eyes is whitish, while that around the ears is black. Head and body are about 30 cm long and the tail an additional 15 cm. As is typical for ground squirrels, California ground squirrels live in burrows which they excavate themselves. Some burrows are occupied communally but each individual squirrel has its own entrance. They commonly feed on seeds, such as oats, but also eat insects such as crickets and grasshoppers as well as various fruits.

2. It is rather common in the maritime Pacific Northwest, Frog Pelt Lichen (Peltigera neopolydactyla) can range in color from bluish green to olive brown. It is found growing on both rocks and dead wood, in shady, open forests at varying altitudes. A large, loosely appressed leaf lichen, the lobes are broad, 10-25 mm wide, and the upper surface hairless. Often bearing brownish, tooth-like fruiting bodies on raised lobes along the lobe margins, the lower surface is whitish, cottony, bearing low, broad, brownish or blackish veins and long, slender holdfasts (rhizines).

3. Trillium (sometimes called Wakerobin) is a genus of perennial flowering plants native to temperate regions of North America. Growing from rhizomes, they produce scapes (similar to a stem) which are erect and straight in most species but lack true, above ground leaves. Three large photosynthetic bracts (modified leaves) are arranged in a whorl about the scape. The flower has three green or reddish sepals and usually three petals in shades of red, purple, pink, white, yellow, or green.

4. Rough-skinned Newts are amphibious and are often seen moving to breeding sites during the breeding season. Migration to and from breeding sites varies among populations. Some newts spend the dry summer in moist habitats under woody debris, rocks, or animal burrows with adults emerging after the fall rains. In some populations, adults remain in the ponds and lakes throughout the summer and migrate back onto land in the fall when the rain starts. Often they will form large aggregates of thousands of newts in the water.

Poisonous skin secretions containing the powerful neurotoxin tetrodotoxin repel most predators. The poison is widespread throughout the skin, muscles, and blood, and can cause death in many animals, including humans, if eaten in sufficient quantity. Populations in Crater Lake have been shown to lack this neurotoxin. In most locations the Common Gartersnake, Thamnophis sirtalis, is the only predator of the newt.

5. The infamous banana slug is the common name for three North American species of terrestrial slug in the genus Ariolimax. These slugs are often yellow in color and are sometimes spotted with brown, like a ripe banana. These shell-less mollusks are detritivores or decomposers. They process leaves, animal droppings, moss, and dead plant material, and then recycle them into soil humus.

SCORING:
5 points: You must be a nature docent!
4 points: You are at home on the coast.
3 points: You think the coastal forest is beautiful, but would never spend the summer here.
2 points: You guessed randomly, right?
1 or 0 points: You’d really rather stay indoors.

I’m on Periscope!

So, after months of trying to get this working for me I’m finally making some headway. Yay! This week, I hope to broadcast daily from numerous locations on the beautiful Oregon coast as I take part in an intensive Oregon Master Naturalist course.

I’m a little apprehensive, however, as many of the locations for our field study may be out of cellphone range so this will be a bit of a trial-and-error. Please bear with me as I experiment with this new tool to bring Oregon to you!

periscope

Periscope is a live streaming video app for your smart phone that enables you to watch events around the world, LIVE, from someone’s cell phone video camera.

You can follow me (search for me on your app @academiacelesti) or catch the replays on YouTube.

What does this mean for you?

I can give FREE webinars about homeschooling and building a love for science from my comfy house to yours any day of the week! No one travels and no babysitters are required.

How can I get on Periscope?

  1. Download the Periscope app to your smart phone.
  2. Login through your Twitter account, if you have one. If you don’t have a Twitter account, you can use your cell phone number to log in.
  3. Follow people by clicking on the little person icon at the bottom right of the screen. It will populate with people you follow on Twitter. Check the name to select anyone you wish to follow.
  4. To find me, click on the search icon (magnifying glass) in the top left and search for @academiacelesti. Click “Follow.”
  5. You will be notified of current broadcasts with a cute little whistle sound alerting you to tune in! Or you can follow me on twitter to get a tweet when I go live!

Can you interact with me live?

Yes! There are colorful fluttering hearts floating along the right side of your phone screen throughout broadcasts. The hearts are the “love button” of Periscope. Tap the screen above the person icon to let the broadcaster know you like what’s being shared. It’s fun!

Live viewers can also type comments and questions, as well as send fluttering colorful hearts of love. As a broadcaster, I can see your comments and answer your questions live during the broadcast.

How do you share my  broadcasts with friends?

During the broadcast, you can alert your friends by swiping to the right (iPhone) or swiping up (Android)—don’t worry, the broadcast will continue while you do this—and selecting the “share with followers” button. I appreciate it when you do, so thanks in advance.

What if you can’t watch live?

Not to worry! Periscope stores the recording for 24 hours in the main feed (the television icon) so you can watch the replay on your phone. Alternatively, go directly to the EvaVarga Periscope link on your computer for LIVE broadcasts and 24 hour replays. { Please note: You can still give hearts during replay, but not comments. }

I will also post replays to my YouTube channel so you can catch replays past the 24 hour.

So, come and join in the conversations around homeschooling, connecting with nature, healthy lifestyle and loving our families, or catch the replays. I’ll post them up here too as much as possible!

Have a great weekend!

Taking Care of Me: Finding Balance in Life & Homeschool

As a homeschool mom, it is easy to lose sight of our own needs for the sake of our children and our spouse. Neglecting our needs, however, can damage our confidence, our relationships, and ultimately our enjoyment of life.

Sometimes we forget that if we don’t look after our body and our needs, we won’t be able to help our minds feel nourished, and our souls feel strong. It is important to take care of ourselves as individuals to ensure a happier and healthier life, as well as helping us to be more a part of the community in which we are a part.

Finding Balance in Life & Homeschool

I’ve written a few times in the past about how we have worked as a family to simplify our life and find balance. Today I would like to share a few of the things I do just for me and how I incorporate these into our homeschool lifestyle.

takingcareofmeMy Intellectual Self

Natural history and nature studies has always been a passion for me. As an undergraduate, the majority of my credits were in ecology and natural sciences. When I learned of the Oregon Master Naturalist Program, I knew immediately that I wanted to seek certification.

The Mission of the Oregon Master Naturalist Program is to develop a statewide corps of knowledgeable, skilled, and dedicated volunteers who enrich their communities and enhance public awareness of Oregon’s natural resources through conservation education, scientific inquiry, and stewardship activities.

Since January, I have been immersed in the online course material which provides a basic overview of Oregon’s natural history and the management of its natural resources. While some of the material is review, I have been thoroughly enjoying the assignments as well as connecting with the other participants.

In June, I will begin the regional course requirement which are in-person coures taught within an ecologically distinct region of Oregon. I have selected the Oregon Coast but I am considering adding additional eco-regions in the future.

The final required component for certification is to volunteer 40 hours for a natural resources oriented group or project. Volunteer projects can include education and outreach, citizen science, land stewardship, and/or program support. I am very excited and look forward to collaborating with resource specialists again and developing educational programs for local students.

Finding Balance

What I love best about the online course material is that I have been able to include the kids. I read aloud my weekly readings and then assign them a modification of the tasks I am expected to complete. They are thereby learning college level material alongside me.

findingbalanceMy Physical Self

When the kids were younger and we first began homeschooling, running was a major part of my life. I was marathon training six days a week – running, swimming, and cross-training. It was challenging and fun.

With each successive half or full marathon that I completed, I set a new time goal. My aim was to qualify for Boston and I was just ten minutes shy of achieving that goal. Then a debilitating injury set me back. Planters fasciitis.

Though I recovered a few years ago and have tried to return to training a few times but I have never been able to stick with it as I did when the kids were toddlers. They each have their own activities and interests and there are more demands on my time. I’ve come to realize that I have been making excuses though.

Now that we have returned home and the climate is less restrictive, I have recently begun to focus and rebuild my mileage once again. Presently, I am averaging about 22 miles per week. I’d love to run another marathon again but to be honest, my goal presently is just physical fitness and enjoyment.

Finding Balance

During the week, I generally run while the kids are at swim team. On the weekends, the family will often accompany me – sometimes on their bikes. It makes for a great family outing and keeps me motivated.

Other Things I Do

Read something fictional

I love to refresh my mind by taking a break in the evening and escaping to another world. Reading fictional stories stimulates the right side of the brain, sparking creative thought. That stimulation helps make my day go a little smoother. I think differently, approach problems in abstract ways, and feel rejuvenated.

At our Family 5 Share Meeting each month, we each take a moment to share a book we have read in the past month and how it impacted us or what we learned. It has been a great way to connect and see that learning is a life long process.

Keep a journal

I actually have several journals, though I don’t write in each one daily. Most are bullet-form so I can jot down things I did, people I met, or how I felt. It’s been a great outlet to help me be present, remember the little moments and sort out challenges in both my personal and professional life.

I’ve always encouraged the kids to keep a journal and we’ve played around with a variety of journaling approaches over the years. My husband has begun to journal as well.

A good night’s sleep

The scientific benefits of sleep are innumerable. To perform at my best, it is critical that I get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. More sleep equates to more happiness, better health, and improved decision-making. Not to mention that it detoxes the brain.

BalancingVisit the sites of other iHomeschool Network bloggers as we explore Balancing Your Life & Homeschool.