Signs of Spring Update: February 15, 1999
Today's Report Includes:
Groundhog and Woodcocks Predict Early Spring.
Male woodcocks (nicknamed "timberdoodles") have a beautiful mating display. They do their dance in clearings near the edges of woods on early spring evenings and mornings before dawn. Woodcocks are found in the eastern U.S. States and the extreme southeastern Canadian provinces.
Leopold noted that woodcock only perform this display at low light levels, "the dancer demanding a romantic light intensity of exactly 0.05 foot-candles. Do not be late, and sit quietly, lest he fly away in a huff."
Woodcocks have an exquisitely designed beak which allows them to eat enormous quantities of earthworms. The tip of the bill senses earthworms by touch and even smell. The bill is long enough to reach worms more than two inches down in the soil, and when it encounters a worm the bill can remain closed, with just the tip opening to grasp the worm without also getting a mouthful of mud.
Discussion of Challenge Question # 1:
We said that hawks, owls, and crows nest very early in the year and asked: Why do you suppose they court and start building nests when it's still winter?
Mr. Upton's 7th graders and Mrs. Zerhusen's 3rd graders both thought about incubation time. Bretton said, "I think the eggs of the hawk, owl and crow may take longer to hatch then other birds. So they start early so their eggs will hatch on time."
Ms. Thurber's 5th graders and the Firgrove Naturalists thought it had to do with food. Rebecca from Mrs. Zerhusen's 3rd grade explained, "It's like a hotel, when you sign up first you get the best room or in a restaurant when you get a good table!" That "good table" is exactly what those baby predators need. Their parents feed them a lot of birds and mammals, and when they get big enough to start hunting on their own, there will still be lots of inexperienced baby birds and mammals around for them to practice on.
How to Respond to Today's Challenge Question
1.Address an e-mail message to: email@example.com
2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question # 3
3. In the body of your message, answer the question.
The Next Signs of Spring Update Will be Posted on March 1, 1999
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