Thursday, May 26, 2011

Nature Passport

Romp with Ringo this summer!
Summer 2011 Nature Passports are here! One of Nature Net's most popular programs, Nature Passport is a free educational nature "scavenger hunt" for children and parents, taking families to a variety of nature centers, parks and museums in the Dane County area.

Nature Passport is a free, fun program designed for busy families. The Passport activities can be completed at your liesure, in any order, at any time between Memorial Day and Labor Day. It is also available in Spanish! (¡Pasaporte a la Naturaleza está disponible en español!) Hereare some other perks of Nature Passport:

For Kids...
Each child receives a special Nature Passport full of activity ideas and fun facts, and containing pages to draw and write about their amazing journeys at various Nature Passport sites! This year's theme, Romp with Ringo, also includes a "Movin' Mission" to encourage healthy, physically-active kids.

For Parents...
Look at the online Parent's Guide for fun facts and explanations to help spark your kids' imagination and answer those big questions like: How do we see color? Don't forget to sign up for Nature Net's FREE Nature Net News, find us on Facebook and visit our blog to stay up-to-date on area nature events and activities!

Getting your FREE Nature Passport is Easy!
1. Pick one up at any participating Nature Net site.
2. Request online.
3. Download one here and print it out double-sided.

Visit for more information. Happy Passporting!

Monday, May 16, 2011

International Migratory Bird Day

This Saturday is International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD), an annual celebration of the migration of nearly 350 species of migratory birds between nesting habitats in North America and non-breeding grounds in Latin America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. If you're new to IMBD or to birding in general, you're in luck! This year's focus is "Go Wild, Go Birding," chosen to highlight the involvement of new youth and adults in learning about birds, birdwatching, and bird conservation. For anyone interested in getting started, Environment for the Americas, organizers of IMBD, has great national and international resources for new birdwatchers, as well as a listing of free materials and activity ideas, including fact sheets, puzzles, games and coloring pages. The Nature Conservancy is also joining the celebration with this Beginner Birding Guide.

A family of geese at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center
Wisconsin is home to large numbers of migratory birds, many of which are in the process of nesting and hatching their new families this month. IMBD draws attention to the plights these birds face from habitat loss and other environmental issues. To learn more about issues affecting Wisconsin birds, visit the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative, which also provides great useful trail guides, resourcesmaps and waypoints for birders in South-Central Wisconsin and across the state. The Migratory Bird Concentration Site from WI-DNR provides information about the protected status and location of Wisconsin's migratory birds.

While this day will be celebrated across the Western Hemisphere, there are plenty of things you can do on a local level too! Participate in the International Crane Foundation's Bird-a-Thon 2011, bringing birders of all ages and abilities to the backyard or field for a single day of identifying bird species - and don't miss the early morning bird hike at ICF! The WI DPI's Environmental Education in Wisconsin will be hosting Early Bird Nature Walks in the School Forest with their local bird guru each Tuesday this month. You can also find more local events and birding trails with IMBD's interactive map. If you can't make any of these events, you can use the birding resources above to plan your own birdhunt, or even bring the birds to your own backyard with the National Wildlife Federation's Beginner's Guide to Backyard Birdfeeding. Green your birding efforts by following these tips from the Urban Ecology Center.

Bring on the birds with a pinecone birdfeeder!
You can also get the little ones interested in birds with these fun craft activity ideas from Nature Net.

No matter what you end up doing, let us know what you learned and how you celebrated International Migratory Bird Day 2011. Happy birding!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Nature Net News - May 2011 - Crazy About Cranes

Nature Net News
Your source for tips & tricks for exploring nature with kids
Dear Reader,

"The crane is wildness incarnate."
Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac
Have you ever seen a crane flying overhead? Even with its long legs trailing behind, the crane manages to look graceful and make flying look utterly effortless.

These beautiful creatures are seen as symbols of wisdom in China, good fortune and happy marriage in Japan and longevity in both. The Greek god Apollo was said to use the form of a crane when he visited the mortal world, and in Europe, cranes were associated with vigilance and loyalty.

These classic beauties make their home and travel through our region. So what are you waiting for? Come, learn, and marvel at Wisconsin's cranes in this issue of Nature Net News!


Kathe, Sarah & Brenna
The Folks at Nature Net

Did you know.....
Sandhill crane chicks usually hatch in early May.

In order to stop the extinction of whooping cranes, people dress up as whooping cranes and teach orphaned chicks how to fend for themselves.

There are 15 species of cranes around the world, but there is no evidence of cranes ever existing in South America.

The oldest crane in captivity lived to be 83 years old!

Learn more crane facts here and here!

What To Do This Month:
Visit the International Crane Foundation!

See the crane family at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center!

Make paper cranes using instructions from the International Crane Foundation (ICF).

Attend the Family Nature Club Kickoff Potluck this weekend! Connect with your family and the great outdoors at Nature Net’s Madison Family Nature Club Free Kickoff Event this Saturday, May 7, from 4-6:30pm at the Glenwood Children's Park (602 Glenwood Street, Madison, 53711). RSVP today!

Tricks of the Trail for Parents:
Crane Boogie
Cranes are known for their unique dances, which they use for courtship, social skills, exercise, and just plain fun. Their dances are filled with jumps, leaps, head spins, wing flaps and twirls. Read this ICF crane behavior guide, view some crane photos, and head outside and make up your own family crane dances!

Instant Outdoor Expert:
Crane Utensils
Cranes have wickedly sharp-looking beaks. This is because cranes are omnivorous. Their diet consists of plant seeds and tubers combined with critters that skitter and squirm out of grasp, including fish, snakes, amphibians, and insects. The crane uses its long neck to quickly thrust its beak and capture critters - sometimes spearing dinner on their beak. Sandhill cranes also use their beaks to probe the ground for small insects and grubs.

Featured Nature Net Site
The International Crane Foundation The International Crane Foundation (ICF) commits to a future where all crane species are secure - a future where people cooperate to protect and restore wild populations and their ecosystems. These efforts sustain the places where cranes live, to the benefit of countless other species.
ICF differs from most nature centers and conservation facilities in that its activities single out a very specific subject - cranes - rather than treating the natural history and general ecology of a region. But the focus on cranes is not limiting; instead it provides ICF an opportunity to address a series of issues not tied to a particular place: endangered species management, wetland ecology, habitat restoration, and the critical need for international cooperation.

Visit ICF between 9am-5pm every day between April 15 - October 31 . Visit indoor and outdoor exhibits, view different crane species from around the world, learn about conservation efforts and explore the grounds. Check out this interactive map before you go!

Learn About Other Nature Net Sites

Nature Craft
Crane Mobile
What you need: folded paper cranes of various colors and sizes (instructions here), thin string, approx 7 ft. of colored yarn, large needle, 2 dowels/sticks/pencils, beads (optional). See illustrated instructions here!

1. Tie yarn around one of the dowels and form a cross with the other.

2. Wrap string around the sticks going clockwise, looping the string twice around every stick. When you have made a sturdy cross, tie off yarn and trim extra.

3. Thread needle with thin string.

4. String your cranes by sticking the needle through the puffy part of their bodies. You can thread several on top of each other or just string them singularly. You can also tie beads at the end or between your cranes. See here for bead techniques.

5. Tie strung cranes to hang from your dowel cross. Double- or triple-knot them.

6. Double-knot 1 ft. of string on one side of the horizontal part of the cross. Then double knot the end on the other side of the cross so that you have a loop.

7. Trim off any extra string or yarn and hang your crane mobile!

Nature Craft Archives

Suggested Reading:
"The Crane Wife" by Odds Bodkin (all ages)
"The Paper Crane" by Molly Bang (4-6)
"Counting Cranes" by Mary Beth Owens (4-6)
"Saving the Whooping Crane" by Susan E. Goodman (4-8)
"Eno"Enora and the Black Crane" by Arone Raymond Meeks (4-8)
"Lord of the Cranes" by Kristen Chen (4-8)
"Song for the Whooping Crane" by Eileen Spinelli (4-8)
"Grandfather's Dream" by Holly Keller (4-8)
"The Princess Who Danced with Cranes" by Annette LeBox (4-10)
"Brolga, the Dancing Girl" by Ainslie Roberts (6+)
"The Crane Maiden" by Miyoko Matsutani (6-10)
"The Crane Girl" by Charles and Veronika Martenova (6-10)
"Sandhill Cranes" by Lynn M. Stone (6-10)
"The Crane's Gift" by Coralyn Bradshaw (7-14)
"Arap Sang and the Cranes" by Humphry Harman (8-12)
"The Whooping Crane" by Bonnie Graves (9-12)
"Crane Crossing" by Mark Dubowski (9-12)
"Whooping Crane" by Rod Theodorou (9-12)
"Cranes and Storks" by Steven Otfinoski (9-12)
"Jane on a Crane" by Jane Dava (9-12)

Find family events on the Nature Net Calendar of Events
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Monday, May 2, 2011

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

Teachers - thanks for all you do!
Celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week with Nature Net's great resources for educators.

Nature Net provides "one-stop shopping" for environmental education resources for teachers of South-Central Wisconsin and beyond. Here are some of the offerings: