backyard

Bees, Bugs & Butterflies

Bees, Bugs & Butterflies

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We are so excited for week 3 of Camp E & E! We’re meeting insects and the like this week! But first, we are taking the campers to garden here at camp to get our hands dirty! We’ll be planting a bee and butterfly garden. So get your pots, soil and garden tools out! We’re helping the bees!

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Tips for planting a Bee Friendly Garden:

  • Plant native flowers and herbs to your area. Some good choices are: sunflowers, lavender (which keeps mosquitoes away), basil, blueberries, blackberries, black eyed susans, peonies, bachelor buttons, tulips, goldenrod and honeysuckle.
  • Plant the same flowers in one group or row.
  • Try to pick plants that bloom more than once in a season.
  • Fill a shallow dish with rocks and fresh water for the bees to drink!
  • Make sure to not use any pesticides and herbicides in your garden. They are toxic to bees.
  • Leave the weeds! Clover, dandelions and milkweed are all important to bees and butterflies! Weeds are friends!

 

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Bees are essential for the survival of all living things! Without bees to pollinate food and crops, we will all be in big trouble! Unfortunately our bee friend populations are in steep decline. So let’s give them a chance and some great habitats! And if you have deer or rabbits that nibble your garden, that’s ok too!

 

Categories: adventure, Animals, backyard, butterflies, camp, Children, conservation, education, endangered species, Environment, nature, science, Today's Post, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

EARTH DAY!!!!

EARTH DAY!!!

We celebrated Earth Day this year by helping with a trail clean up at our local natural history museum, Fernbank Museum of Natural History. We had a great time, pulled weeds and replanted some local plants that grow fruit that deer and racoons eat! 

We didn't see the beavers :(....

We didn’t see the beavers :(….

 

Beaver retention pond

Beaver retention pond

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part of the trail we worked on!

Part of the trail we worked on!

Plants we transplanted!

Plants we transplanted! 

 

Here we are at the registration table!

Here we are at the registration table!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also made a coloring sheet to celebrate Earth Day! We would love to see your artwork and tell us how you’ll be celebrating this fabulous holiday! We’ll be playing our Backyard Bingo Game (included below with coloring sheet!)

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Backyard bingo-1

 

Categories: adventure, Animals, backyard, Children, conservation, crafts, earth day, education, Environment, nature, science, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

LET’S GET BIRDING!

We here at headquarters decided that we wanted to learn more about birds, bird watching and bird photography! We found two lovely people on Twitter who know quite a bit about all of things and they were nice enough to do an interview with us and share their amazing photos!  The best part about Curtis & Norma is that they are from our home state of Georgia! Let’s all learn about how to find some of our feathery friends!

 e e birds

 

E & E: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Curtis & Norma: We are writers and photographers who live in a rural area in Georgia where they enjoy photographing birds, nature and landscapes.  Their website is www.lkjournalphotos.com and they are on Twitter @lkjournal.  (www.twitter.com/lkjournal)


E & E:  Excellent! How long have you been bird watching and taking bird photos?

Curtis & Norma: Our bird photography started accidentally over three years ago when Curtis photographed a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker drilling holes into a pecan tree in our front yard.  We have both enjoyed nature photography for many years; however, our bird photography became more serious over a year ago when we participated in Cornell University’s 2012 Backyard Bird Count.  We went to Lowe’s and bought some bird feeders and bird seed, and then placed the feeders in our trees near our kitchen window.  We were amazed at the different species of birds that came to the feeders.

cardinals

Cardinals!

E & E: We’ve heard doing the Backyard Bird count is fun! When did your love of birds begin?

Curtis & Norma: We have always loved nature and enjoyed photographing coastal scenes and shore birds, but we really became more serious about bird photography during the 2012 Cornell University Backyard Bird Count.

E & E: Great! We love birds, but are complete novices when it comes to bird watching. Where should we get started?

Curtis & Norma: It always helps to purchase a bird identification book so that you can identify the different species of birds who visit the feeders.  Also, visit places like Lowe’s, Walmart or Wild Birds Unlimited to see the many different bird feeders and bird seed.  Keep it simple.  One open bird feeder and a small bag of mixed seed featuring black oil sunflower, white millet and safflower will produce exciting results.  Be patient…… because sometimes it takes up to two weeks for birds to find the feeders.

caspian terns

Caspian Terns


E & E: Those are some great tips! What guides do you recommend for first time bird watchers? 

Curtis & Norma: Some of the following books are written for Georgia residents, but they are excellent guides for learning about birds in the South.
Birds of Georgia  – Dr. John Parrish, Giff Beaton and Gregory Kennedy

Birding Georgia – Giff Beaton

Birds of Georgia Field Guide – Stan Tekiela

The Sibley Guide to Birds – David Allen Sibley

For the Birds – Anne Schmauss, Mary Schmauss and Geni Krolick

The Backyard Bird Feeder’s Bible – Sally Roth

 

great white egret

Great White Egret!

E & E: We’ll be hitting up the bookstore! Our HQs is a condo so we can’t have bird feeders. What is another good way to find birds?
Curtis & Norma: We always love to go to the beach to see the many shore birds, such as Ring-Billed Gulls, Laughing Gulls, Brown Pelicans, Boat-Tailed Grackles and many more.  There are always many fascinating shore birds near a coastal area.

Plus, anywhere near a lake or a pond usually has beautiful birds.  At local ponds, many times you will see Canadian Geese, Mallards, Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons.

If you live near a state park or a wildlife management area, you will also see birds, squirrels and deer.  A state park is a great place to see nature and wildlife, and especially birds.  Georgia has many wonderful state parks and wildlife management areas.   The National Wildlife Refuge System also provides an opportunity to see many species of birds.  Here are links to Georgia State Parks, Georgia Wildlife Management Areas and the National Wildlife Refuge System.

goldfinches

Goldfinches

E & E: Those are some great places to check out! Luckily we have a pond across the street from us! Tell us some great ways to attract birds to your yard?
Curtis & Norma: A very popular way to attract birds to your yard is to have a birdbath.  The birdbath should never be over two inches deep so that the birds will not drown.  Birds love a birdbath.  They need to drink water and they also enjoy taking a long bath, especially the Eastern Bluebirds.
Another way to attract birds is to hang bird feeders on a tree and place bird seed in the feeder.  The most popular seeds for songbirds are:  black oil sunflower, white millet, safflower and unsalted peanuts.  It’s best to not feed red millet because most birds do not like red millet or red milo.

American Goldfinches and Pine Siskins enjoy thistle seed.  They especially enjoy the thistle socks.

Woodpeckers enjoy the suets and the woodpecker treats that are available in places like Lowe’s or Walmart.  Blue Jays and Red-Bellied Woodpeckers enjoy unsalted peanuts and are famous for coming to the feeders, grabbing peanuts and storing them for the winter.  It is very entertaining to watch them.  The unsalted peanuts will need to be cut into smaller pieces.

titmouse

Titmouse


E & E: We had no idea there were so many kinds of birds seed! What are some good basic tips for first time bird photographers?

Curtis & Norma: When attempting to photograph a bird outside and not through a window, always be very still.  Birds notice the slightest movement and will fly away if they see you move.

2.  Try to photograph when the sun is not too harsh because very bright sunlight can cause a picture to look really fuzzy or unclear.

3.  If your birdbath or bird feeders are outside your kitchen or living room window, you can still get great pictures.  Have plenty of their favorite seeds in the feeders and be sure that your birdbath has fresh water.  Then, clean your windows inside and out with White Distilled Vinegar.  This is the best product to use to guard against spots and streaks.

4.  Birds seem to be very active during migration and during cool, rainy days.  Northern Flickers, Pileated Woodpeckers, Red-Bellied Woodpeckers, Red-Winged Blackbirds, American Robins and Common Grackles are very active on rainy or overcast days.  Sometimes you can get some nice pictures on a cloudy day.

5.  To get really good close-up photos, we use a Canon EF 70 – 300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens.

We photograph in the backyard, through the kitchen window, in a pecan orchard, near cotton fields, at state parks, wildlife management areas, ponds, lakes and at the beach.

Robin

Robin

E & E: WOW! We will be taking our camera out this spring! What kind of habitats are good for finding migratory birds?
Curtis & Norma: Actually, your backyard can be a great place to bird watch during Spring Migration.  Plus, birds are always active near lakes, ponds, rivers or the ocean.  A body of water attracts many species of birds.

Another area where birds are usually abundant are rural, wooded areas.  Birds enjoy the space of a rural area and they enjoy the pine trees and pecan trees.  Pecan orchards attract many woodpeckers and warblers.

Cardinal Eating Millet

Cardinal Eating Millet

We have so many places to go explore and see if we can find birds! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions! We hope our readers will be as inspired as we are to go out and meet some bird friends!

 

Categories: adventure, Animals, backyard, birds, Children, conservation, education, Environment, nature, science, wildlife, wildlife photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

THE ADVENTURES OF MIGHTY BUG!

THE ADVENTURES OF MIGHTY BUG!

mightbug

We had the most exciting afternoon at The Center for Puppetry Arts the other day! We sat down and were transported to a lovely garden scene! That garden turned out to be the home of Bugville and the super hero Mighty Bug!

This fantastic comic book like world was full of amazing characters, including Mighty Bug, Professor Rhinoceros Beetle and the villain Scorpiana! We meet Mighty Bug in the morning as he wakes up and goes on his morning jog. Along the way we meet all kinds of bugs. Not only do we get to meet centipedes, butterflies and bees we learn something fun about each one! Did you know that ants can lift 50x their weight? That would be like a human lifting an elephant! WOW! We’re pretty sure a human couldn’t lift Ellie!

Back in Professor Rhinoceros Beetle’s lab, Mighty Bug and the professor taught us all about the parts of an insect! Did you know insects’ skeleton is on the outside? Pretty cool! As we follow Mighty Bug on his adventures we learned about the different types of habitats bugs live in!

We also meet Mighty Bug’s girlfriend Morpha Butterfly, who sang a fantastic little tune about a butterflies! Edmond was dancing the whole time! Soon though the tale takes a turn for the worse when the villain Scorpiana enacts her evil plan to take over Bugville with her gang!  Whew, the story gets interesting from there! We won’t spoil the ending for you! This fun and fantastic show is not to be missed! They use shadow puppets and human sized ones! It is full of color, laughter and intrigue! Plus you learn throughout the show! What’s better than learning while you have fun? NOTHING!

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Grab your running shoes and your enthusiasm and make a trip to The Center for Puppetry Arts to see “The Adventures of Mighty Bug”! Check out the center’s website for tickets and times! Don’t forget to make a lightening bug puppet to take home with you when you are there!

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Categories: adventure, Animals, backyard, Children, conservation, nature, Puppets | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

MAMMAL MONDAY # 50

MAMMAL MONDAY #50

We hope you enjoyed Halloween Week last week, we have one last surprise up our sleeves (we don’t actually have sleeves) on Wednesday for you! Today though we are off to Europe to meet one of the most beloved and adorable native animals there. Grab a flashlight and let’s head out into an English garden to meet today’s animal.

MEET THE EUROPEAN HEDGEHOG!

   Range/Habitat: Europe/ gardens, forests, woodland

   Diet: Omnivore: worms, spiders, slugs

   Length/Weight: 26”/ 20 lbs

   Conservation Status: common

 

 

 

Fun Facts:

  • European Hedgehogs are a favorite resident of gardens of Europe.
  • They are covered in pointy spines that help protect them.
  • When threatened European Hedgehogs roll into balls, exposing only their spiny covered backs.
  • European Hedgehogs are nocturnal.
  • They are generally solitary.
  • European hedgehogs hide under bushes and logs during the day.
  • Some European hedgehogs hibernate during the winter.
  • Baby hedgehogs (hoglets) are born with their spines just under the skin.

Hedgehogs are so iconic and adorable. There are so many people who love these spiny mammals. We know we do, just don’t try and pet one!

Categories: adventure, Animals, backyard, Children, conservation, education, Environment, mammals, nature, science, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

BUTTERFLY DAY!

BUTTERFLIES!!!

The Dunwoody Nature Center just north of Atlanta had a Butterfly Festival recently and of course we had to go! Our good pals Trevor and Ayden came with their parents, so it was a party for everyone!

 

Butterfly Festival here we come!

 

We had a lovely time exploring this neat little nature center and all the festivities they had throughout the day! First up we saw a Birds of a Prey show presented by Nature’s Echo.

We’re getting ready to meet some birds of prey!

The ladies from Nature’s Echo had 3 birds with them; a Mississippi Kite, a Screech Owl and a Red Tailed Hawk. These amazing birds were so cool to see up close and we learned some super neat facts about them!

  • A Mississippi Kite’s eyesight is so keen they can see every wing beat of a hummingbird’s wing.
  • Owls have 14 vertebrates in their necks.
  • It is illegal to own a raptor feather in the state of Georgia.
  • An owl’s ears are off set on their head.

Mississippi Kite having a snack!

 

Mississippi Kite- gorgeous!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screech Owl! They are really small!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edmond & Trevor meet the kite!

 

 

 

 

 

 

We met a red tailed hawk!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out this talon! Wow!

They had a wing you could touch and feel!

 

 

Wow! Raptors have some super cool adaptations! We really enjoyed meeting these gorgeous birds!

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the birds of prey show we wandered around the nature center’s grounds to check out the fun activities and vendors! You could make crafts, enjoy treats or get a bug tattoo! We wanted a tattoo but we couldn’t decide where to put them.

This butterfly is made of bottle caps! Reusing items to make art is awesome!

We ran into this wonderful bear in his National Park outfit!

Handsome bear!

 

It finally was time to enter the butterfly tent and man, were we excited! We could hardly contain ourselves! Luckily we learned some fun butterfly facts as we waited in line!

Butterfly facts!

More fun facts!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We finally made it in the tent & there were butterflies everywhere! They were all different sizes, shapes and colors! We just loved meeting each one of them!

Butterfly sits on a feeder!

 

Black & yellow butterfly!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can you spot the butterfly?

 

See the tiny butterfly above us?

Trevor & his mom helped us find this lovely butterfly umbrella!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One last gorgeous butterfly shot!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our last stop of the day was inside the nature where we met some local beekeepers and sampled their honey! Yum! We could see the inside of the hive and we spotted the queen thanks to one observant boy who found her! Did you know that they queen has a yellow spot on her back? Cool!

 

Beehive!

Honey samples! Delicious!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had the best time at The Dunwoody Nature Center’s Butterfly Festival! If you’re in Atlanta you should check out this special nature center and all their fun activities!

 

Categories: adventure, Animals, Atlanta, backyard, Children, conservation, education, Environment, insects, Local, nature, science, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

WE’RE ON A MISSION!

We’re on a Mission!

Code name: Conservation!

That’s right we’re on a mission to catch you in the act of conservation! Here at the Ellie and Edmond headquarters we talk about the small ways you can help animals, such as recycling!

Now we want to see you doing great things for the planet!

So we’re having a Photo Contest! Starting on Wednesday August 1st and ending Friday August 31st,we’re asking our fans and friends to post your pictures of you participating in conservation!

We want to see you recycling, growing a butterfly garden, going to a zoo or aquarium and reading about conservation, making your own green cleaning products, filling a bird feeder or reusing an item.

These are just some of the many things you can catch on film! Be creative and make it fun!

You can post the photos on our Facebook wall or

tweet it to us @EllieandEdmond.

 

We’ll pick 3 winners and announce them on Monday September 3rd

You can enter up to 3 pictures. Prizes to be determined!

We are soooo excited to see your pictures! We’ll be posting them once a week on our blog, so you can see all the fun! Please share this with all your friends and family, the more pictures we get the better!

 

Categories: Animals, backyard, Children, education, Environment, gardens, nature, photography, wildlife, wildlife photography | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Meet Sheep!

Working Sheep!

We recently went to a Chastain Park to visit a herd of sheep and goats! What were these goat and sheep doing in our local park? Well, they were there to eat and eat and eat! The herd of sheep is part of a program sponsored by Trees Atlanta to help clear local parks and areas of overgrowth and invasive plants. Chastain Park in particular had a problem with kudzu! That’s where the herd of 100 sheep and goats get to work! They spent several weeks eating the around 2 acres of kudzu, pretty easy to do when you’re a sheep that can eat up to 150 square feet of kudzu a day!

Here’s a map of the area where the sheep “worked” 🙂

The herd was hired from EWE-niversally Green! That’s right folks there are companies where you can hire sheep to eat your plants! Cool, huh?

The sheep and goats have move to A. D. Williams Park to chomp away more invasive plants! Yum! Check out the Trees Atlanta website for when and where you can visit the sheep herd again!

Check out our photos from our breakfast with sheep!

Goats & sheep of all colors!

Such cuties!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We learned all about Trees Atlanta!

Have ewe heard?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sheep enjoying some browse! We love browse too!

 

This little lamb was just too adorable!

This little guy is named Brownie!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here we are with Brownie in the back!

Who needs more cowbell?

Categories: adventure, Animals, Atlanta, backyard, education, Environment, mammals, nature, parks, plants, trees, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

BATS!!!

BATS!!!!!!

We’re going batty today and we want you to join us! In honor of the big movie about guy who dresses up as a bat, we’ve decided to celebrate these special mammals today!

Did you know that bats are the only flying mammal on the planet?

The smallest bat is the Bumblebee Bat! They’re about the size of a dime!

There are about 1,200 species of bats on the the planet!

They make up 25 % of all mammal species!

They come in all shapes and sizes! Some are cute, some are funny looking bats. Some bats eat fruit, some eat insects and there are a few who drink blood!

So let’s celebrate these special mammals with some great photos!! Let us know what you love about BATS!

Categories: Animals, backyard, bats, Children, education, Environment, mammals, nature, science, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

REPTILIAN TUESDAY # 37

REPTILIAN TUESDAY # 37

We’re staying in the North American woods today to find a little reptile who lives in ponds! Grab your bug spray and your waders because we’re off to find this great reptile!

MEET THE WOOD TURTLE!

   Range/Habitat: Southeast Canada-Northern United States/ponds, woods,

streams

   Diet: Omnivore: worms, slugs, leaves, insects

   Length: 5 ½-7 ½”

   Conservation Status: endangered

 

 

Fun Facts:

  • Wood turtles are diurnal (active during the day).
  • They are excellent climbers.
  • Wood turtles have pyramid shaped scutes.
  • Wood turtles have perfect coloration to camouflage in their habitat.
  • They hibernate in rivers in winter.
  • Wood turtles are intelligent and have excellent homing skills (finding their way back to their habitat).
  • They can live up to 40 years.

Wood turtles are really amazing turtles. Scientists have even tested these turtles in mazes and they do as well as rats! Pretty cool! They are endangered though, primarily due to habitat loss and taking the turtles from the wild. Turtles can make great pets, but it is very important that if you get a turtle, you get them from reputable breeder and not the wild!

 

  

 

 

Categories: Animals, backyard, Children, education, Environment, nature, reptiles, rivers, science, turtles, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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