Category Archives: Nature: plant and animal identification

Bird Feeder Bird Watching: A Great Place To Start

Introduce your kids to bird watching by setting up a birdfeeder within easy view of a window. Children will have an easier time learning to use binoculars by starting with a fixed focus point. Children will focus on the birdfeeder (with the help of an adult if needed) and wait for the birds to come. They will see the birds like never before. Using a bird feeder will bring around many varieties of birds for their enjoyment.

Try buying different seeds to attract different varieties of birds. Provide a notebook where kids can record birds that they see. Show them how they can start their own life list. Buy a bird field guide or research sightings on-line.

Chipping Sparrows

Bird Collides With Window: Hermit Thrush

Sadly, this hermit thrush hit a window in our house. My daughter and I looked out for it while it recovered. Happily, in less than a half hour it was able to fly away.

December of 2010.

When this happens we usually put the bird in a box for its protection while recovering. If it is too cold or too hot we bring it inside. If you find a bird unconscious, protect it from predators like cats. Be very quiet around it and don’t try to feed it. Do let it go as soon as it recovers (usually within an hour.)

We have been trying to develop strategies to prevent birds from hitting our windows.

In another post I’ll show you some of our tricks. I like to think that we have reduced the amount of bird collisions that would have otherwise occurred but it is hard to know for sure.

Do you have any good ideas to prevent bird collisions?

Another Spadefoot Toad in MD! Alive and Well

Yesterday my husband found me this live Eastern spadefoot toad in our yard while doing some digging. He remembered my recent post about the dead one I found and knowing I’d be excited, he saved it for me to see. It makes me wonder how many times I’ve come across a toad like this. At first glance, it looks similar to the common American toad. But if you look closer you will see that they look very different. For example, a spadefoot doesn’t have the glands (large bumps) on its head that an American toad has.

A toad that spends most of its time underground is hard to find. Are any of you Marylanders finding this toad?

I love its eyes: amazing!

So cool: I now have live Eastern spadefoot toad pictures to share!

We let it go of course, after this photo shoot.

Eastern Spadefoot Found

Dead toad picture; how appropriate for Halloween!

I found this dead toad on the road near my house in Southern Maryland. I’d never seen a toad like it before so I did what any weird, I mean curious, person would have done. I took a picture and did some research. Notice the strange claw thing on its foot. These toads dig in the ground.

Follow the link below to see pictures of a live toad, to hear its call and to learn more.

Raise your own caterpillars For The Fun Of It: Fritillary Butterflies

Try this at home! Find and raise your own caterpillars. I found these lovely Variegated Fritillary caterpillars in my yard (southern MD) and didn’t know what kind they were. The best part of raising caterpillars is the thrill of discovery!

I found these caterpillars on our violet plants.

Here it is munching down on a violet leaf.

Find your own:

If you want to find fritillary caterpillars, you will want to look on the plants which they love to eat. In this case: violets, pansies, passion flowers, flax, stonecrop, moonseed, and plantain. I found these on violet plants.

Make a home:

metamorphosis observatory

See my post on making a metamorphosis observatory.


Bring in some of the plant you found your caterpillar on. Give it new food as it eats up the old. The vase should have water in it to keep the plant yummy for the caterpillar but you don’t want the caterpillar to drown in the water, so use a vase with a narrow neck.

I allow plenty of violets to grow around my house. The larvae (the caterpillars) of the variegated fritillary as well as other fritillaries feed on violet plants.

You might not even think about it but when you landscape your yard and get rid of all the native plants, you are also getting rid of food for native insects. If there are no bugs (including caterpillars), then birds etc. don’t have anything to eat. Native insects need native plants!

This is the chrysalis of the variegated fritillary. It has beautiful gold spots.

Here is a variegated Fritillary butterfly that we raised.