Do you have some time on your hands these days for a little extra nature study?
Here’s a short of list of the newer Outdoor Hour Challenges you may want to complete that feature some totally awesome mammals. I’m personally working my way through the list in my own study and following up with nature journal pages for each one. I still have a few more to go!
This week we’ll learn about the majestic elk as part of the Outdoor Hour Challenge. I never had any real experience with elk until we moved to Central Oregon. Now, each spring, we have them right out our back door.
With this nature study lesson, you’ll have a chance to learn about this large mammal and do some comparing to other mammals you see more regularly.
Here are a few ideas to get you started with an elk nature study:
Choose your resource for learning about the elk. This could be a field guide, a book from your local library or an online resource. Here’s a link to a webpage that has an abundance of information on elk in North America: Elk Network. You will find facts, videos, and range maps on that page that will help you learn about this magnificent animal.
Please note that I won’t be posting the complete challenge here on the blog, but you’ll find the detailed challenge in the High Desert ebook that’s available both in the Ultimate Naturalist and Journey level memberships. Sign into your account and download the ebook for the details, more links, and notebook pages.
If you don’t have a membership yet, you can click the graphic above and join today for immediate access to the 25 ebooks and so much more! Remember that all levels, even the Discovery level membership, include access to all of the archived newsletters!
Topics in this ebook include:
Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel
Please use the discount code OHC10 to receive $5 off an Ultimate Naturalist Membership.
The High Desert ebook is now ready for you to download and use with your family. This ebook has been a labor of love on my part because it is filled with some of my favorite topics and things I have in my own habitat. I have been anxious to share these subjects with you my blog readers for a long time!
I have included many links and resources for nature journal pages for your family to use in your nature study.
We will be working our way through this ebook in a few months so get ready to follow along. Please note that even though this ebook is titled “high desert”, many of the the topics can be found in other habitats. In most cases, I have suggested an alternative nature study idea to supplement or substitute for the ebook topic. I encourage you to give it a try!
There are 14 brand new Outdoor Hour Challenges for you to complete as part of your nature study lessons with your children. These Challenges are not based on information in the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock. You’ll be using internet links and field guides to glean information about each topic. See the bottom of this post for book and resource ideas you may wish to have as a supplement to this High Desert ebook.
This 63 page digital ebook has 14 challenges and supplemental activities
There are multiple custom notebooking pages for each of the topics. You can choose from simple notebook pages or more advanced notebooking pages.
Here are the specific topics included in this ebook:
Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel
How do you get the new High Desert ebook?
Members of the Ultimate Naturalistand Journey levels have access to the new ebook in their library. You need to click the “Members Area” button at the top of the website, sign into your account, and the ebook is there to download and save for your family to use when desired.
If you don’t have a membership yet, I’m offering a $5 off discount code that will be good towards your Ultimate Naturalist membership.
Discount Code: OHC10
Here are my favorite resources that I use all of the time in my own study of the High Desert habitat.
It’s been unusually warm here in Central Oregon; some days the thermometer rises up to temperatures that are to be expected in spring. Well, you know that just makes me want to be outside and continue exploring!
During our outdoor time this month we went….looking at tree silhouettes.
We don’t have a huge variety of trees in our area, mostly pines and a few aspens. I absolutely love the aspens and the big gorgeous ponderosa pines. The Outdoor Hour Challenge for winter trees helped us get to know our new habitat better.
Side note: It’s hard to take a good tree silhouette photo.
I’m dreaming about….the green grasses and plants of summer.
The Outdoor Hour Challenge for winter weeds focused our attention on the plants we see during our river walks. Mostly dried and packed down by the winter snow, the winter weeds we observed are pretty much done for the season. But, on closer inspection, we can see new green growth starting to sprout underneath….that is exciting.
Our outdoor time made us ask….who made the trails in the weeds?
I noticed last month there appear to be “trails” under the weeds where small animals are moving around beneath the matted grasses. Some of the trails lead to holes and have fresh dirt at the openings. Could these be the subnivean zone trails of our local rodents?
I even found a spot that has a pile of scat, small little droppings sort of like mouse scat but much lighter in color. Fascinating!
The most inspiring thing we experienced…seeing beaver bank dens.
The ongoing hunt to actually see our beavers down at the river continued this month as we took to our kayaks and floated over to the opposite side of the river to check out some activity we could see going on over there.
On this warm afternoon, we spotted lots of signs of beaver activity like gnawed willow branches, beaver “slides” where they enter and exit the water, and trees that the beavers cut down.
We spent an hour or so traipsing around the willows and trees and along the river bank trying to see where they are living. We found a spot on the bank that looked like it was a possibility so we got back into the kayaks and checked it out from the water side.
Could this be it? When we got back home, we researched bank dens of beavers and discovered this is exactly the kind of place they create for shelter. We’ve been looking for the typical beaver lodge with its big mound of branches and a dam. But, we have learned that they will create hollows in the river bank to make a series of dens for living space.
Now we need to get out there at a time they’re active which is typically an hour before darkness or at sunrise. I have a friend who lives down river from us and he says he has seen the beavers out in the late afternoon and he’s heard their tails slapping on the water so that gives me a glimmer of hope that we may see our beavers if we’re persistent.
One more image….our elk!
Finally, the elk have returned to our neighborhood. We had visitors from California that were keen to see them and we spotted them not too far from the house. Then the next week, we had four elk right behind our fence in the early morning hours. It was barely light enough to spot them but they stuck around for a little while and I was able to get an image. They are such beautiful animals, much larger than expected, and so agile as they move along. I’m looking forward to observing them until the late spring when they return to the mountains.
Answer all or just one of the prompts in a blog entry on your own blog or right here on my blog in a comment. If you answer on your blog, make sure to leave me a link in a comment so that I can pop over and read your responses.
During our outdoor time this month we went….
The most inspiring thing we experienced was…
Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)…
In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting….
Are you ready for my first Outdoor Mom journal entry from our new home in Oregon? This place is amazing! We had a period of time that we had to be “homeless” as we transitioned from living in our old home until we moved into the new one so we took advantage of those few days by going camping with two of our older children. The weather was perfect and we hiked a bit and had some awesome evening campfires. It was so very relaxing after a whirlwind of packing and transporting our household 450 miles.
Now that we’re settling into the new place, we realize how much wildlife we have living all around us. The most notable animals are the Rocky Mountain elk that graze in the land right behind ours. They make their way slowly by our fence line both at dawn and dusk. So far the largest group we observed was eight elk. Last night, one of the elk was brave enough to jump our fence and eat at the birdfeeder. What a treat to see these magnificent mammals close up!
We have enjoyed the early morning birdsong and many mornings there is a swirling mist rising up over the river. I wake up now and jump out of bed to look out the window to see what there is to see. I let my dog outside early this morning and a few minutes later I spied her sitting at the fence watching a group of four elk. She just sat and watched, sniffing the air. It made me laugh….I can only imagine what the Kona dog was thinking.
I have started a bird list, adding each bird as it makes its appearance. I have a pair of binoculars at the ready near the window just in case a new bird decides to visit the yard. It’s going to be a fun summer of bird watching and learning my waterfowl for this area of Oregon. I think I’m up to the challenge.
I have a really nice neighborhood for walking. It is a flat mile if I walk in a loop. As I walk, I’m making mental notes of any plant emerging that looks like it may be a wildflower. It is still very early spring here and many of the trees are just getting their leaves. I am hoping to learn my Oregon wildflowers one flower at a time, just like I did in California when I first started out with nature study with my children. I realized already that I need new field guides and a really good hiking guide book. I will be researching them on Amazon over the next month or two.
We took our first hike since moving at Smith Rock State Park. My daughter was with us which made everything more fun. I will share more about this awesome place in a future post.
Well hopefully you’ve had a great month of nature time as well. Share a comment or a link to your blog entry if you want me to pop over and take a look!
Don’t forget that I am sharing a nature journal page each week on my Instagram account if you want to see the pages as they unfold. Follow me here:Instagram – outdoorhourchallenge.And, if you want to create a page and share it on your Instagram for me to see, use the hashtag #OHCnaturejournal
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