Sunday, February 23, 2014

Westwood Nature Center and Outdoor Fun

In connection with our year-long study of animal groups, we revisited the Westwood Nature Center to learn more about how Minnesota's animals cope with our long winter!  Our Westwood Nature Center guide Becky was outstanding as she helped the students understand which animals are dormant, active and migratory.

Migratory group: the Canada Goose
Active group: Deer

Hibernating group: Grey Tree Frog

The puppet show is always a favorite!
We saw a great horned owl in its nest.  I tried to get a close-up, but we really could see its tufts!

We studied some auger holes in Westwood Lake to try to spot one of our active animals, the sunfish. 
A few friends spotted a dead bee in the snow, which left us very puzzled.
Our guide explained that on those "warm-up" days we occasionally have in winter, bees will leave the hive to... go to the bathroom! Apparently they are very tidy insects!  The ones we spotted just didn't make it back to the hive before the cold came back.  We found a dead wasp on our playground later, so we decided they must exhibit the same behavior.

The Nature Center is full of displays of animal furs, feathers, skulls, and live reptiles, amphibians, insects and arachnids.  There is a tarantula on display, although it was too shy to get a picture.  The fox snake, however, was not shy and followed students' fingers along the glass!

If you are looking for some further connections, check here to view Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' Eagle Cam.  The Ely Bear Center continues their work studying black bears and has lots of information about bear hibernation, as well as three bear den cams.

On another note, our snow families should be intact on the playground tomorrow--with a new white blanket on their shoulders from Friday and just a little melt from the sun.

Some great teamwork in action!


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