Saturday, July 7, 2018

Help Kids Respect Wildlife

Birds build nests in trees.

Teaching our kids to respect wild animals--whether marine animals or land animals-- helps shape their character.  As kids learn to care and protect animals they become kinder, more considerate people.  

We've all seen movies about animals with human traits.  They talk, walk, and think like furry, feathered humans.  Those movies are so cute. But it's always good to help our kids balance them with real animals in real habitats.  Here are a few ideas.

Crab on beach.

Go The Seashore

Take a walk on the beach, encouraging your young habitat-hunters to use all five senses as they check places where critters live. 

  • Look for feathers.  Many birds, like the red skimmer, make their nests in the sand right on the beach.
  • Look for tracks.  Sea turtles live in the ocean, but  females lay their eggs in nests in the sandy beach and nearby dunes.
  • Look for crabs.  Many species of crabs live on the beach.  
  • Look for flippers.  Seals hunt for food in the water, but they breed and raise their young on the beach.
  • Look for worms.  Some species of worms live in the first 20 cm of sand, eating  nutrients from bacteria and algae.
  • Look for insects.  To find insects, roll over some organic matter from the wrack line* and look closely. 

* Wrack Line: a line of organic matter left on the beach by high tide.  It is made up of eel grass, kelp, small shells, feathers, and small bits of human litter.  

Squirrels make nests in trees.

Go To The Woods

The woods are home to many different species of animals.  Look for habitats there too.

  • Look for tunnels.  Rabbits dig their homes near river and stream banks and under trees.
  • Look for trees.  Squirrels built their nests where branches meet tree trunks.  The nest will look like a football-sized structure made of leaves and twigs. 
  • Look for holes.  Holes in tree trunks can be home to owls and woodpeckers.
  • Look for nests.  Birds build their nests of twigs, grass, moss, and leaves in bushes and on tree branches.
  • Look in the weeds.  Spiders build their webs in weeds.
  • Look for mounds.  Moles build their homes underground.  Look for mounds of earth at the entrance.  Sometimes you can see mound-lines above the tunnels, if they're not too deep.
  • Look for dead wood.  An old log can be home to many insects, like wood lice, stag beetles, and millipedes.

Bird nest in tree.

Let's always remember, whether at the beach or in the woods, that we are the visitors to the habitats we find.  Always approach with respect and keep a distance.  Take care not to stress the animals nor damage the habitats they worked so hard to build.   

Research Sources:

1.  "How To Teach...Habitats".  The Guardian.  Guardian News and Media Limited.  Web.  02 Jul. 2018.  <>.

2.  "Woodland Trust Nature Detectives".  The Woodland Trust.  Web.  02 Jul. 2018.  <>.    

3.  "Flora and Fauna".  Coastal Care.  Sand Wars.  Web.  04 Jul. 2018. <>.

Image Credits:

2.  "Crab" by Skylark is licensed by CCO Creative Commons.

3.  "Bird Nest" by Free-Photos is licensed by CCO Creative Commons.

4.  "Squirrel" by Capri23auto is licensed by CCO Creative Commons

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