Unless otherwise noted, information contained in each edition of the Kansas School Naturalist reflects the knowledge of the subject as of the original date of publication.
THE COVER PICTURE - Dr. Ted F. Andrews, head of the Department of Biology, showing a group of pupils where and how to find insects suitable for bringing into the classroom.
Volume 9, Number 3 - March 1963
Attracting Wildlife for Observation
ABOUT THIS ISSUE
Published by The Kansas State Teachers College of Emporia
Prepared and Issued by The Department of Biology, with the cooperation of the Division of Education
Editor: John Breukelman, Department of Biology
Editorial Committee: Ina M. Borman, Robert F. Clarke, Gilbert A. Leisman, David Parmelee, Carl F. Prophet, Dixon Smith
Online format by: Terri Weast
The Kansas School Naturalist is sent upon request, free of charge, to Kansas teachers and others interested in nature education. Back numbers are sent free as long as the supply lasts, except Vol. 5, No. 3, Poisonous Snakes of Kansas. Copies of this issue may be obtained for 25 cents each postpaid. Send orders to The Kansas School Naturalist, Department of Biology, Kansas State Teachers College, Emporia, Kansas.
The Kansas School Naturalist is published in November, January, March, and May of each year by The Kansas State Teachers College, Twelfth Avenue and Commercial Street, Emporia, Kansas. Second-class mail privileges authorized at Emporia, Kansas.
THE COVER PICTURE was taken by the college photographic service, the other photos by member of the biology faculty. The sketches of the window aquarium and terrarium on page 6, and the net, dredge, and seine on page 7, were borrowed from previous issues. All other sketches were drawn by Dr. Robert Boles, of the biology faculty.
Attracting Wildlife for Observation
An elementary school science program is incomplete, unless it includes opportunities for children to study animals not only in their natural habitat but also at close range. Young children cannot understand concepts such as adaptation, reproduction, and conservation of living things unless they can watch animals and systematically keep records of observations over a period of time. The concepts that can be developed depend on the previous experiences of the child.
The first step in the teaching of any nature activity is arousing curiosity and establishing a desire in the pupils to find out about nature for themselves. Children should have opportunities to learn that all animals reproduce their kind; require water, food, and oxygen; grow, and are sensitive to their surroundings.
Of course the ideal place for studying the activities, behavior and intelligence of animals is one where the animals may be observed in their natural environment. As a means of attracting wildlife for observation, a brushpile may be made in a vacant lot or in a fence corner, far enough from the school playground so that animals making use of it will not be disturbed. Water and food should be placed near by.
Animals may be brought into the classroom for closer observation. This requires trapping, caging, feeding, watering, and keeping the animals clean, healthy, and comfortable as long as the study lasts.
Pupils interested in attracting wildlife for observation should keep in mind that animals are not scattered haphazardly across our state, but each kind lives where it can find the sort of food it needs and the protection it requires in order to stay alive and raise its young.
Would it surprise you to learn that animals have "language"? Lately there has been great interest in studying the sounds made by animals, and trying to interpret meanings of these sounds. "Signposts" are often scented trails which give clues as to the presence of other animals. Some actions of animals such as wagging tail, hair standing on end, ears held flat to the head, head cocked on one side, or bared teeth are also means of communication.
This issue of The Kansas School Naturalist was prepared by a group of eight teachers who were members of the second section of the 1962 Workshop in Conservation, under the direction of Thomas A . Eddy, Instructor of Biology. It was developed to provide some suggestions for attracting and studying wildlife, at home or at school.
METHODS OF OBSERVING AND HANDLING LIVE INSECTS
More than three fourths of all the different kinds of living things in the world are insects. From this broad view, it becomes clear that insects play an important natural role, not only in ways that benefit man directly, but also as food for many kinds of animals, including fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Man depends on insects for pollinating the flowers of many of his cultivated plants.
During what part of the night do you think this device yields most insects - early evening, near midnight, just before daybreak?
A number of insects can easily be attracted so that you can observe them more closely. Flowers attract such insects as butterflies, moths, bees, wasps, and beetles. Many of these may be found along a flowering hedgerow on a warm sunny day. Rivaling a hedgerow in having a variety of species in a small space is a garden.
Many insects, such as moths, some beetles, and lacewings, are attracted by light. In summer a lighted window, a porch light, especially on a white house, or a light out in the open will attract many species. The light placed out in the open may be made more effective by using a sheet to reflect the light. The sheet may be laid on the ground with the lamp in the middle of it or more satisfactorily, hung from the branches of a tree or supported by vertical poles. The lamp may either be put at the base of the sheet or placed some distance back so that the beam just covers the sheet from edge to edge. It should be placed so that insects coming to it will be flying upwind. Where a vertical sheet is used, it should be extended forward at its base for about five feet along the ground.
Sugaring for moths at night is exceedingly interesting as well as fruitful. Painting of a fermented fruit and sugar mixture on tree trunks on warm nights early in the spring and late in the fall produces excellent results. One effective mixture consists of fermented fresh peaches and white sugar. The peaches are sieved after fermenting, then mixed with sugar as desired.
There are many places to look for various insect species. Whenever trees are shedding their sap, look for bees, flies, and other insects. A picnic can yield a rich harvest of ants and other insects in search of food. Boards placed over dead birds or other animals serve as a hiding place for insects. There are plenty of insects in your own back yard. Turn over logs and rocks, look under leaves, remove the bark from dead trees and stumps and you will probably find many kinds of insects.
In addition to watching insects in or near their natural habitat, it is interesting and beneficial to have live specimens in the classroom for closer observation. Insect "apartments" or cages may be kept on a window sill or nature shelf in your science room. They may be ice cream containers with a window cut on each side covered with screen held in place with tape. Cages may also be made from the lids of two cans (cocoa, baking powder or the little metal boxes typewriter ribbons come in) plus window screening. Into the bottom of one lid pour a little plaster of Paris to hold the screen in place and to form a floor, and just as it begins to harden insert a twig which gives the insect something to climb on. The other lid is used for a removable cover.
The water bottle is attached to the side of the cage with pieces of soft wire. The tube can be bent glass or plastic. Insects and other small animals in such as cage drink by licking water from the end of the tube.
This termite colony in a school aquarium was part of a successful science fair project.
Terraria are ideal arrangements for keeping insects and other things for observation. Screen containers or glass jars are useful for spiders and insects such as crickets, grasshoppers, praying mantids, and caterpillars. Young mantids may be fed on fruit flies or their larvae until they are able to manage bluebottle flies, mealworms, grasshoppers, or roaches. Feed caterpillars the particular kind of plant on which they were found. Crickets and grasshoppers do well on apple, lettuce, and moist bread.
Aquatic insects will live in the school room in an aquarium, a wide mouthed glass dish, a battery jar, or other container. On a single collecting trip to a stream or pond, even an amateur collector, equipped with a soup strainer, can find many common forms. Because many waters insects are carnivorous, do not keep these with other smaller animals unless you wish the water insects to use the other animals for food. Insects taken from swift streams need plenty of oxygen and are difficult to keep alive in tanks, even for a short time, unless the water is aerated frequently with an air pump. Adult beetles, caddice-fly larvae, dragon-fly larvae, water-boatmen, and backswimmers collected from quiet pools and ponds do well in aquaria.
Insect nets are of three types: aerial nets for catching insects in flight; sweeping or beating nets for taking insects hidden in vegetation, and water nets for securing aquatic insects. All three should be comparatively light and easy to handle. A simple net can be made from a coathanger and a piece of cheesecloth. Round out the hanger using the hook end for the handle. Make a triangular piece of cheese cloth into a funnel and sew on to the circle of the hanger.
Many people feel that all insects should be destroyed, but everyone should understand that when we destroy one form of wildlife, we are depriving another form of wildlife of its food.
The study of birds is an interesting hobby and can provide many hours of outdoor enjoyment. Since birds are around us all the time, we can easily listen to their songs and become acquainted with their habits. A group of school children can learn many interesting things about birds by day to day observance at home, on the way to school, and at school. Birds should ordinarily not be keep in captivity. By Federal law it is illegal to keep song birds in captivity without special permit. In any case, it is best to observe birds in their natural surroundings, and many species can easily be attracted by putting out food and water.
Bird feeding stations and bird houses should be placed where the children can easily see the birds that are attracted. Stations may be placed in the schoolyard and at home; it is best to place them where they can be seen from a window.
If the birds do not find the feeders, scatter some food in various directions from the feeders. This will lead the birds into the area where the feeders are located. Do not be discouraged if the house sparrows are the first to find the food. Their chirping will attract other birds to the food. After the food has been found by other birds, grain may be scattered on the ground. This may distract the sparrows from the main feeding stations.
A simple aquarium and terrarium on a window sill can provide a wealth of small water
and land animals for schoolroom observation.
These dimensions lor an insect net lit the ordinary coat hanger, but the same kind of net may be made in any desired size.
A tow net (opposite page) may be made by fastening the netting material, preferably bolting silk of bobinet, to an embroidery hoop or heavy wire ring. Three pieces of fish line or strong cord tied equidistantly around the ring and to a rope let you pull the net through the water. You may catch small fishes as well as water insects and their larvae. A perforated coffee can fastened to an old broom stick can be used as a dredge to catch insect larvae that live on or in the mud at the bottom of a pond or roadside ditch. The frame of a dip net may be attached to the handle by means of waterproof tape.
A small seine for collecting water animals can be made by fastening a piece of plastic window screen to two broomsticks. Pool animals are easily caught by pulling the seine through the water. The finer the mesh of the screen, the smaller will the minimum size of the animals caught.
A junior bird watcher checks up on birds in the back yard.
The snowy blustery weather did not keep this slate-colored junco away from the homemade grain feeder hanging just outside the window.
You need not look far; this picture, taken through the window during a light snowfall, shows house sparrows, juncos and robins in a winter habitat.
A gourd with a "door" cut in it may prove desirable to a bird resident.
If you are fortunate enough to have a natural bird house like this in a suitable spot. do not let anyone disturb it.
The best time to start feeding birds is in the fall before they have formed fixed habits of feeding. These eating habits will take birds over nearly the same course every day. They soon discover which trees have the most insects, therefore it would be best to put suet in trees which they usually visit during feeding.
Below are listed some familiar birds, and also some favorite kinds of foods which we can supply for them.
Woodpeckers: Suet and meat scraps
Nuthatches: Meat scraps
Chickadees: nuts and meat scraps
Creepers: raw peanuts or peanut butter
Jays: table scraps
House sparrows: grain and bread crumbs
Juncos: cracked grain
Cardinals: chick feed and sunflower seeds
When snow covers the ground winter birds need grit to help them digest their food. Birds may be attracted at all times of the year by providing a supply of water. A bird bath should be shallow, and should be kept clean. A shallow pan with gravel on the bottom is adequate. A bucket with a drip hole, hung over the pan, will do as well as an elaborate pool. In winter warm water can be put out each morning for the birds. This water will soon cool down to the proper temperature so that they are able to drink it. The water should be placed in an open area, but close to shrubs or bushes where birds can escape from predators. The water should be shaded part of the day during the summer.
In summer birds are able to find sufficient food in the form of insects, berries, and grain. They are attracted to places that supply food, cover, and nesting placed within a relatively small area.
Birds are usually found in abundance in an area that contains fruit-bearing trees, shrubs, and bushes. In summer birds need water and a place where birds may rid themselves of mites an lice.
Hummingbirds are summer residents. During their stay they are attracted to trumpet shaped flowers including the trumpet vine, honeysuckle, petunias, and four-o'clocks. If none of these flowers are available hummingbirds can be attracted by a sugar water solution in a small bottle. Fill the bottle with a mixture of three parts of water and one part of sugar. Color the water red with food coloring. Tie a red ribbon on the bottle, then fasten the bottle to a shrub. Hummingbirds will find this if they are in the vicinity.
When building bird houses the most simple construction is best, and will be more natural and attractive to birds. Hollowed out logs are nesting places for thirty species of birds in the United States. When old dead trees are removed the natural nesting places of these birds are destroyed. It is well to leave hollow trees standing for birds that use these for nesting places. Pieces of small hollowed logs cut into proper lengths and suspended from tree limbs with wire are suitable nesting places for such birds. Rough slabs of wood from logs which still have bark remaining on them can be made into bird houses. Brightly painted and fancy houses are apparently not as attractive to birds as unpainted and weathered houses.
Bird houses can be made in school. The children probably have materials at home which could be used, The materials may be boards or plywood, and composition shingles. Cocoanut shells and gourds may also be used. Only simple tools are necessary - hammer, nails, and saw.
The bird house should be large enough to give the bird sufficient room but not large enough to waste material. Inside measurements should never be less than 3 1/2 by 3 1/2 by 6 inches.
The diameters of the openings of the houses should be:
(a) 1 1/8 inches: wrens, chickadees
(b) 1 1/4 inches: nuthatch, tufted titmouse
(c) 1 1/2 to 1 5/8 inches: bluebird, downy woodpecker, crested flycatcher
(d) 1 3/4 to 2 inches: red-headed and hairy woodpecker
(e) 2 1/2 inches: flicker, purple martin
(f) 3 inches: screech owl, sparrow hawk
(g) 4 1/2 inches: barn owl
Birds will drive other birds from their nesting territory, so nesting boxes should not be put too close together, at least not closer than fifty feet.
Nesting materials may not be available to birds when they are ready to build their nests. Pupils can supply suitable materials for them. These materials are listed under "Things to do."
Many people think that mammals are the most important group. of animals in the world. They play an important part in nature's scheme. Mammals - hairy or furry animals that nurse their young - range in size from the pygmy shrew of Europe, weighing less than a dime, to the greatest creature that has, so far as is known, ever lived on this planet, the blue whale which may weigh up to one hundred twenty-five tons, or the equivalent of a hundred million pygmy shrews.
Some more or less common mammals of Kansas are: oppossum, shrew, mole, bat, cottontail, jackrabbit, squirrel, woodchuck, prairie dog, chipmunk, gopher, mouse, rat, beaver, muskrat, coyote, fox, raccoon, skink, bobcat, deer. Some of these, such as squirrels, rabbits, and coyotes, are commonly seen during the day. Others, such as shrews, moles, and bats, are normally active at night. The night-active animals include many, such as field mice and wood rats, that get along well in captivity. You must provide such animals with some kind of shelter or burrow in which they can hide during the day. They may come out for food and water and be seen occasionally. But if they are in an open cage throughout the day they will probably not get along well.
There is great variation in the habitats of mammals. They are found in wooded areas, along streams, in open spaces, under logs and underground, and under buildings. Most mammals have dens or homes of some sort-burrows, nests, in caves, hollow trees, or thickets - where they can sleep and hide and care for their young.
Mammals may be attracted to a chosen spot, where they can be studied in the open, by playing on their hunger and curiosity. Different varieties of bait such as vegetables, grains, or bits of meat may dra.w some of them to a spot where they can be studied closely from a window or a blind.
Most mammals, attracted by bait, are those that feed at night. You will need to light the feeding ground so that the actions of the animals may be seen. A simple way is to play a flash-light beam on the feeding area; another method is to string a wire from the house current so that you can turn on a bulb directly over the spot to be lighted.
Patience and quietness are the main things needed for watching wild animals in any natural situation. Mammals are happier in their own homes and are more interesting to watch there than through the wire mesh or bars of a cage.
Squirrel boxes, fastened securely in the forked branches of a tall tree, may attract squirrels.
Use live-catch traps to capture small animals without injuring them. Place the trap in a shady location and check it at least twice each day. Put the unhurt animal into a cage, place in well lighted area of suitable temperature and supply food and water. Be sure to provide a hiding place in one part of the cage. Whenever you keep animals in captivity in the classroom or at home, it is your responsibility to see that they have proper care.
Proper feeding is the main concern for keeping the animals healthy. Check the food habits of the specimens and try to provide them the food the v eat in their wild state. The feedings should be at regular intervals so that the animals learn to expect them. Keep track of the feedings on a chart attached to the animal's cage, or in a record book, with a page for each animal. The notes should include name of animal, date, time of feeding, kind of food, amount given, and amount eaten. Then the feeding chart will show what food appeals to that animal and how much to give it. Have water available for animals at all times.
THINGS TO DO
1. Build a bird feeder. The one in the upper right corner of this page may serve as a pattern, but you can figure out a pattern of your own. Several other types are illustrated one page 8 of the May lS62 issue of The Kansas School Naturalist.
2. If you would like to be an animal detective, your home or school yard or any mud flat near a pond or stream, or an area of soft sandy soil with little vegetation, or any place after the first snowfall, will be full of clues for you to practice on. Any animal that walks, runs, crawls, or hops about on soft earth or in newly fallen snow may leave tracks that you can interpret.
3. Keep records of migratory birds, birds seen in winter, when birds return in the spring, birds that come to the feeder and waterer.
4. Take walks to observe birds along the streets, in the city park, around ponds, in a wooded area, in a pasture. Look for nests and tracks.
5. Hatch chickens in the school room under a hen, or in a home made incubator; keep a canary or parakeet in the schoolroom.
6. Plant trees and fruit bearing bushes, and shrubs in the proper places on the school ground.
7. Build one or more, bird houses. Two suggested forms are shown here and on the next page, but you can adapt so the seeds will be above the deep snow these patterns to your own ideas.
8. Place nesting materials on the ground for birds to use in nest building; for example:
White or colored string or yarn preferably short pieces, not over 8 inches
Horse hair or other stuffing from old upholstery
Pieces of cotton
Straw or hay
Wet mud (for birds that use mud in constructing nests)
Small pieces of cloth
9. Make a list of different kinds of habitats and see how many kinds of insects you can find in each habitat. Are some kinds of insects found in more than one habitat? A suggested list of habitats is given below, but you can think of many others.
Trees and shrubs in the home or school yard
Grass; lawn or pasture
Gardens; flower or vegetable
Shores of lakes or ponds
Under rocks or boards
Under piles of leaves or debris
In rotting logs
10. Make bird books, color the birds, and write a short story of each bird.
11. Plant a feed patch in a suitable comer of the school yard. The grain sorguhms are specially desirable, because the birds can feed on them during the winer. The stalks are tall and strong, so the seeds will be above the deep snow of midwinter.
Cocoanut on the half shell. or with a cocoanut roof-either way. birds will make use of it.
This lean-to shelter oilers winter protection for bobwhite and other wildlife.
A brush pile like this, constructed in an out-of-the-way place, may provide shelter for many kinds of birds and other animals.
A brush and rock shelter may attract many small mammals.
Many kinds of live-catch traps can be bought; this kind can be made from a tin can. a piece of wood, a mousetrap, and a piece of hail screen or other firm wire netting.
A backyard bird feeder of simple design.
This kind of bird house is usually fastened to a building or a tree trunk.
A bird house of this design is usually mounted atop a post or hung from a branch of a tree.
This feed patch on the Ross Natural History Reservation covers several acres. A small feed patch may be a good way to use a corner of a home or school yard.
Standing, left to right: Snowden, Brinkworth, Block, Reichart, Rife, Rhoades, Kneeling: Deeds, McFarland
A NATURE LIBRARY
Allen, A. A. 1954. The Book of Bird Life. D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc., New York
Atkins and Burnett. 1959. Working with Animals. Rinehart and Co., Inc., New York, $1.00
Berrill, Jacquelyn. 1955. Wonders of the Wild. Dodd, Mead and Company, New York, $2.50
Black, J. D. 1954. Biological Conservation. McGraw-Hill Book Company. New York, $5.00
Cahalane, Victor H. 1945. Meeting the Mammals. The Macmillan Company, New York, $2.50
Goodrich, A. L. 1945. Birds in Kansas. Kansas State Board of Agriculture, Topeka, Kansas
Hillcourt, Wm. 1950. Field Book of Nature Activities. G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York, $3.95
Hylander, G. J. 1957. Insects on Parade. The Macmillan Company, New York, $3.75
Jacques, H. E. 1947. How to Know the Insects. Wm. C. Brown Company, Dubuque, Iowa, $2.00
Kansas Forestry, Fish and Game Commission. 1947. Glimpses of Kansas Wild Life. Pratt, Kansas
Lutz, F. E., P. L. Welch, P. S. Galtosoff, and J. G. Needham. 1937. Culture Methods of Invertebrate Animals. Dover Publications, New York, $4.00
Moore, C. B. 1954. The Book of Wild Pets. Charles T. Branford Company, Boston, $5.95
Murie, Olaus Johan. 1954. Field Guide to Animal Tracks. Houghton Mifflin, $3.75
Oldroyd, Harold, 1958. Collecting Preserving and Studying Insects. The Macmillan Company, New York, $5.00
Palmer, E. Laurence. 1957. Fieldbook of Mammals. E. P. Dutton and Company, Inc., New York, $3.75
Peterson, Roger Tory. 1951. Wildlife in Color. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, $3.00
Ray, Don G. 1958. The Book of Small Mammals. Garden City, $2.95
Sanderson, Ivan T. 1951. American Mammals. The New American Library, 501 Madison Avenue, New York 22, New York, $2.50
Siverly, R. E. 1962. Rearing Insects in Schools. Wm. C. Brown Co., Dubuque, Iowa
Zim, H. S. and C. Cottam. 1956. Insects, A Guide to Familiar American Insects. Golden Press, New York, $1.00
Zim, H. S. and 1. N. Gabrielson. 1962. Birds, A Guide to Familiar American Birds. Golden Press, New York, $1.00
Zim, H. S. and D. F. Hoffmeister. 1955. Mammals, A Guide to Familiar American Species. Golden Press, New York, $1.00
FILMSTRIPS AND SOUND FILM
Films from Visual Service, University Extension, University of Illinois, Champaign, Illinois:
How Insects Help Us -10 min. $3.00
Insect Collecting - color -14 1/2 min. $4.75
Insects Are Interesting - color -11 min. $3.40
From Bureau of Visual Instruction, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas
Mammals of the Western Plains - color -11 min. $3.20
Common Mammals of the Woods -color -11 min. $3.20
Robin Redbreast - black and white - 11 min. $2.00
Birds of the Countryside - color -11 min. $4.00
Cultivate Your Garden Birds - color - 11 min. $4.00
Living Bird, The -color -15 min. $5.00
Birds of Town and Villages
Birds That Live Near People
Birds of Our Countryside
Birds of Gardens
The committee in charge consisted of: Mrs. Lela Block who teaches in Iuka, Kansas, and lives in Preston, Kansas; Mrs. Edna Snowden, Howard, Kansas; Mrs. Mae Rhoades who teaches at Beaver Flats, and lives in Scott City, Kansas; Mrs. Wilma Deeds, Cimarron, Kansas. They were assisted by Mrs. Robelia McFarland, who teaches at Olpe, Kansas and lives in Emporia, Kansas; Alvina Reichart, Valley Falls, Kansas; Beulah Brinkworth, Mankato, Kansas; Faye L. Rife, Colby, Kansas.
Those printed in boldfaced type are still available, free of charge except Poisonous Snakes of Kansas, which is sold for 25¢ per copy postpaid, to pay for the increased printing costs due to the color plates.
The out-of-print issues may be found in many school and public libraries in Kansas.
1963 WORKSHOP IN CONSERVATION
FIRST SECTION, June 3 to 21
Credit: 3 semester hours
Outline of Program
June 3-11: soil and water, grasslands, field trips
June 12-18: wildlife, conservation education
June 19-21: individual projects, completion of reports
SECOND SECTION, June 24 to July 12
Credit: 1, 2, or 3 hours for 1,2, or 3 weeks
This section is open to any student interested in conservation or conservation education.
To be admitted to this section a student must have completed a course in conservation or been a participant in the first section, and have demonstrated ability to write clearly. There will be no formal program, the objectives and procedures being determined by the group. This section will be devoted largely to the production and revision of projects and activities useful in the teaching of conservation.
Anyone interested in further information should write the director, Thomas A. Eddy, Department of Biology, Kansas State Teachers College, Emporia, Kansas.
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