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Nature Study: Finding the Ordinary to be Extraordinary

Extraordinary in the Ordinary @handbookofnaturestudy
Find the Extraordinary in the Ordinary I challenge you to find five ordinary things in your backyard or in your everyday life that you can study and learn something more about. Find something extraordinary in something you have come to think of as ordinary and usual, so usual that you may not even notice it anymore.

Sebastian actually gave me this idea that I think would be a great challenge for nature study close to home. In order to start developing the idea, we challenged ourselves to go out in our backyard and find something extraordinary. I decided we needed a little clearer definition.

Extraordinary: beyond the usual, far more than usual, more than expected

It is that “more than expected” part that we want to develop an eye for in our family.

Here are the five things we will be learning about from the Handbook of Nature Study, the field guides from our nature shelf, or internet sources like and

The blue of the morning glory is outstanding and we have never done a formal study of this garden flower. Now is the time to do it since we have lots of blossoms to observe. We already have decided how extraordinarily blue this flower is…not very common in flowers I think.

While we were outside, the cat was chasing this Alligator lizard. Lizards are not an extraordinary creature in our backyard but as we watched this lizard, we started to wonder about its defense mechanism…the breaking off of the tail to distract its attacker. We are going to do some more research about this extraordinary ability.

This California Towhee is a regular visitor to our feeder, or rather under our feeder. We have never taken time to focus our nature study on this particular bird but now we will. I’m sure there is something extraordinary about it that we don’t know yet. The most visible difference we have noticed about the California Towhee is its very long tail…hmmm….maybe that is extraordinary.

We have noticed an increase in hummingbirds in our yard this summer and there have been two in particular that we would like to study more in depth. I was unable to get a photo of the hummingbirds but thought you might enjoy seeing my new feeder. I think maybe the two unusual hummers we saw were migrating and I would love to learn more about where some of our hummingbirds go at different times of the year.

Caterpillars have been dropping out of the Sweet gum trees and before they can crawl away, the birds swoop down and eat them. These caterpillars are busily eating the leaves from the tree but we don’t know exactly what they will be once they go though their life cycle. Look at those colors, now that is extraordinary! We are going to try to identify these critters as part of our challenge.

Now we have a list of things to investigate.
1. Morning glories
2. Alligator lizards and their tail
3. California Towhee
4. Migrating hummingbirds
5. Caterpillar from the Sweet gum tree.

You can take the challenge to find the extraordinary in the ordinary if you are up to it! Find something in your yard to focus on and really see the beauty, the design, and the magnificence of something that perhaps you have been overlooking. It could be as simple as the dandelion in the crack of your sidewalk. It could be the robin gathering worms in your lawn. It could be the ants on your kitchen counter. The possibilities are endless.

If you take the challenge and you blog about it, leave me a comment and I will come over and read about it.

I will be posting our results over the next few weeks.

Stay tuned.