Forest kindergartners were full of stories of woodpeckers seen feeding at the suet feeder last week. Most were quick to identify the pileated and downy woodpecker (singing stuffed birds) during opening circle. Friends recalled sounds that chipmunks and squirrels make that could sound similar to birds and each had a local bird to explore with. Excited to see how familiar forest kindergartners are with common birds (and many could identify) like the cardinal, black-capped chickadee, blue jay, goldfinch, and robin (all seen or heard during the morning). A great crested-flycatcher was hanging out before the students arrived – a good song to learn.
An eastern wood pewee sang loudly with its ‘Peeeee-o-weeee’ (listen here: Eastern wood-pewee song) during opening listening circle and a red-eyed vireo sang (listen here: red-eyed vireo song) faintly in the background (sounding like a robin but smoother with more frequent pause). Robins were plentiful in the forest this morning and one stayed close while we made some look-alike robin nests and blue life-size eggs and speckled turkey-sized egg paperweights.
On to the Butterfly Games! These included matching Ontario butterflies to caterpillars, singing pollinator and butterfly songs, life-cycle games, symmetry colouring, making butterfly antennae (their scent organs) and proboscis (mouth parts) for drinking sweet nectar and pollination flipping flowers musical games. Forest kindergartners were eager to share stories of their classroom experiences rearing and releasing Painted Lady Butterflies!
Travelling to the field to catch, observe and release butterflies, children spotted the starlings in the grass area adjacent to the forest.
After watching them a bit – we noticed the parents were foraging on the ground and feeding their begging babies! Children heard and spotted a crow calling and a grackle foraging, Karen spotted a turkey vulture flying overhead as we walked to the field to search for butterflies. Once in the field we could hear a common yellow throat singing constantly from a wet area in the field – singing ‘witchity, witchity, witchity’. A song sparrow, photographed also sang frequently as we observed butterflies. A house wren sang loudly near the Discovery Centre entrance.
Butterflies observed during the morning included a viceroy (smaller than a monarch with additional markings on the hind wing), European skippers, little wood-satyr, crescent specie of butterfly, and many small white moths and likely a dusky-winged butterfly (still to be confirmed).
Discovery Forest School kindergarteners previously discovered a larva eating the goldenrod. These larva were plentiful again today. After seeking some help from Ontario Master Naturalists, we discovered that this may be a larva of a Trirhabda (genus) beetle species. Discovery students are going to continue to observe and learn more about this beetle and its’ life-cycle! In a take-home package Forest Kindergartners brought home either a common milkweed plant or a sunflower to plant.If you would like a resource for learning invasive plants to avoid planting in your garden and native alternatives – check out ‘Grow Me Instead’ online. Two native plant farms in Simcoe, where you can source native plants which help our native insects, birds and wildlife diversity include: Not So Hollow Farms in Mulmur and Return of the Native in Elmvale. Enjoy your summer and the beautiful birds and butterflies your way!