Science Bloggers for Students DonorsChoose Challenge

Friday, August 14, 2009

Urban Wildlife Watch: Learning to keep your eyes open

Observation is the foundation of all scientific pursuits.

The scientific method you learn at school may teach you the first step is the problem or question or hypothesis. But the real first step is observation - the simple and awesome act of paying attention - with your eyes, ears, taste buds, your noses your fingers tips, and yes, even your heart. All of your senses come to play.

It's only when you notice your environment or body or whatever do you really begin to recognize a problem or ask more probing questions. And that is the magic of science. It's what inspires scientist - the professional ones and all of you at home, to explore!

Wildlife is everywhere, even in the busiest, seemingly concrete human-occupied places of all.

With this blog (and my offline outreach activities) I point out hidden-in-plain-view wildlife and natural places in urban areas.

In fact, here are some photos of wild scenes I've eye-spied in the last 2 weeks, all right in St. Louis, Missouri.

A male cardinal, only a fledgling. I found him in the street (Elm Street in Webster Groves). As I was driving by I noticed a remarkable bright red object in the line of traffic. I turned around to inspect, and found this fellow stunned. I picked him and brought him home for a day. After 24 hours he was perching in the bird cage and eating sunflower seeds I set out for him so I released him in my back yard. (I have video I will share later).

I saw this bird nest just lying on the ground right next to the SCOSAG house in Tower Grove Park in St. Louis, Missouri at Grand Avenue and Arsenal. There egg shells inside. The summer camp counselor said she notice the nest on a branch in the tree above where it had fell the days before. There were little brown birds that lived in it (some sort of little brown job - sparrow, wren, or chickadees). She took the nest inside for show-and-tell for the kiddies at the summer art camp.
This is a nest of duck eggs right along the walkway across from the Forest Park Visitor Center in St. Louis. The nest was obviously abandoned and the eggs didn't mature. But how neat is this?

I saw this bunny right by a bus stop at the Grand Station Metro link in south city St. Louis (near Saint Louis University and Harris-Stowe State University). People were at the bus stop not 6 feet away from this little fellow nibbling on grass.

He eventually hopped away into the work yard of a nearby industrial business.

Now, it's your turn. Go on Urban Science Adventure Eye-Spy Challenge.
Find a place to sit still and quietly outdoors. You could take a walk through your neighborhood, or visit a park or school play ground or even your back yard. Call this place your Special Sanctuary.
Quietly watch and observe a section of the landscape for 10 minutes. Try not to make any noise or move around too much.
What sounds do you hear?
What new animals or insects have you noticed?
What plants grow there? Is it shady or sunny?
Take a photos or draw a picture of what you see. Write down your thoughts in a journal.
Go back to the same spot at a different time of day. Try visiting your Special Sanctuary in the morning, afternoon, and at dusk.
Are there different animals there? Different plants?
Write me and tell me all about your Urban Science Adventures! ©


Deb said...

Wow! Are you linked to any schools yet? I think elementary and middle school students would dig what you're doing here.

I know that I do.

Happy SITS Saturday!

Sweet dreams.

DNLee said...

Thanks Deb! I'm not, but I so want to be. I really try to reach young people, teens especially in outdoor education. But I'm working on it.

Bird said...

Thank you for writing about this, for encouraging people to look. 'Cause I write a soft focus nature diary I sometimes wonder if people will go away thinking "wow I can see this great stuff for myself" or if they are just going to assume that nature is not accessible to them, it's not in their world. Because you are a scientist in an urban setting I'm sure you will open up so many eyes. I'm glad I found you!

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