Last night I was sitting at the table when I heard an unusual bird call just outside my window. It was something so distinct that I was alert right away. I called my husband over and we cracked the window and listened…he heard it too.
This morning I heard it again and was determined to go outside and find the bird to confirm my identification. I quietly stepped out onto the deck. Quiet. Then I decided to head down the stairs to look around the yard. Quiet. Next thing I know, a bird flies right over my head and lands on the deck railing. It was a quail! Big, beautiful, gorgeous California quail. He sat there for maybe 30 seconds and then he flew up into our tree. I decided to go inside and get my video camera to try to capture him on film.
Of course he wouldn’t come out of hiding again for me but he did sing me his song. Here is a very short edited video of his call. Listen for the Chi-ca-go call and that is him among the chorus of other morning birds in my yard. You might need to turn your speakers up.
Pacific treefrog, Hyla regilla, found at the American River, California.
Bright sunny day.
He and a friend treated us to a show of their voices. They are very loud and make their song by expanding their balloon like throats. It is a fascinating thing to see.
Here’s a video that I shared on my other blog that has the frogs croaking at 25 seconds and 50 seconds into the video. Pacific treefrog Video
The video is terrible but the audio is fantastic. They really were as loud as they sound in the video.
Handbook of Nature Study, page 186 “The frog may be studied in its native situation by the pupils or it may be brought to the school and placed in an aquarium; however, to make a frog aquarium there needs to be a stick or stone projecting about the water, for the frog likes to spend part of the time entirely out of water or only partially submerged.”
On pages 178 and 179 of the Handbook, Anna Comstock talks a little about a different variety of tree frog and shows a few photos. “It is by means of these sticky, disclike toes that the animals hold themselves upon the tree trunks or other upright objects.”
Here is a nature journal entry my son did last summer of another Pacific treefrog that we observed.
We are going to be able to identify this little creature now when we hear his call and we feel privileged to have had this experience.
March 1, 2008
Dear Nature Friends,
Today we took our Outdoor Hour Challenge on the road, or should I say trail? The last Friday of every month we take the day off from our regular schooling to have a Nature Day. This is something I have been doing all year with my 12 and 14 year old sons. We take the day and focus on some aspect of nature that fits in with our science lessons or our interests.
Please remember when you read my post and view my photos (and a short video) that we have been doing nature study in our family since these two boys were able to walk….a long time. We also live in a moderate climate and have limitless access to wilderness. This hike is literally out our door and a few miles away. On a scale of one to ten, this day was a perfect ten. I hope that puts our experience in perspective for you beginners. This is what your nature study can look like in a few years if you keep at it, little by little.
In challenge number 1 I shared our hike on a new trail…the one with the ferns and the unusual bud. We wanted to take the hike all the way to the river this time so after a short stop at our tree in the woods, we headed over to the trail head. We set off at a quick pace but soon we found wildflowers blooming and of course I had to stop to take a few photos.
I wasn’t able to identify this one yet, need to see it flowering.
We saw our first butterflies of the season, big brown ones and little blue ones. The sun was actually hot and we shed a layer of sweaters and sweatshirts…good thing I had my backpack on this hike. 🙂 We had good conversation as we hiked along. Oh, we saw what the “unusual looking bloom” was from our last trip. It is actually just the way the leaves pop out on this particular plant.
It was a long downhill hike to get to the river, I think about a mile and a half but the hard part is that it was a really steep downhill grade. I kept thinking about the hike back up with great dread. Would the hike be worth it we kept asking?
The minute we hit the edge of the river and I was shedding my pack, the boys excitedly called to me to come over and look at something. I could tell it was something good by the tone in their voices. Wow! A whole pool of California newts!
We spent quite a bit of time watching them in their courtship dance in the crystal clear water. Fascinating and we felt so grateful to have seen it. My youngest slipped into the water with one foot and had a soaking shoe, sock, and pant leg for the rest of the hike. After a few photos and a video, we all sat at the edge of the river and rested and listened and just soaked it all in.
Yes, you can train your children to sit quietly and listen.
The boys were soon doing their usual river thing…throwing in rocks. I sat and worked in my nature journal drawing the blackberry leaves and vine next to me. The boys found a little gold flake in the gravel at the edge of the river. We actually live near where the California Gold Rush started on this very river.
I need to make a note to put a little vial for collecting things in my backpack. This flake was dropped into the rocks and was never seen again. He wants to go back and try again some time.
But the highlight of the day happened right when we were packing up to go back up the trail…..yes, you haven’t seen the highlight yet. The boys spotted a frog that had just jumped out of the water onto a rock. Back out comes the camera to try to get a photo for their nature journals.
While getting a few good photos, two of the frogs started croaking. Their throats blew up like balloons and the sound of it was awesome. Would you like to hear? [If you are on email subscription you will need to come over the the blog to see the video..I think.]There are actually two frogs croaking in the video and they croak at about 25 seconds and 50 seconds into the video. When we got home we pulled out our field guide and identified this as a Pacific Treefrog.
Both boys wanted to do their journals on the newt.
I got a new scanner but I have not learned how to operate it very well yet…maybe next scan will be better.
Thanks for sharing our very exciting “day out” with us. Hope it inspired and encouraged you in to have some of your own adventures with nature study. Our family looks forward to each time we have to share time out of doors. The answer to the question earlier about whether the hike would be worth the effort? Yes, totally and completely. I would go again right now….sore muscles and all.
One last photo of my son and I kneeling over the water trying to see the frogs.
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