Thursday, March 26, 2009


With the grey and rainy weather for the past couple of days, and the chill in the air, it seemed as though spring had stalled.  (Although I guess really, this is quintessential spring weather.  But it doesn’t have the infectious excitement of seventy and sunny, nor the abundance of newness.)  But today the sun has shown its face and the air, though not warm, is no longer frigid, and birds are singing.  Spring marches on. 

Today's theme is: organisms with names that can be misleading.  Students are often fooled and enthralled by the names of these things.

1.  Rattlesnake Master.  So named because of the noise its seeds make as they blow in the wind, this prairie plant looks like it might be better suited to the desert.  It can handle the cold, though, and it is an early emerger.  These little guys are between 1 and 3 inches tall right now.

2.  Killdeer.  Saw (and heard) one today.  The first time I was introduced to the killdeer, as a child, I had a similar reaction to some of the students who saw the bird with me today.  I was called over, "Look, there's a killdeer!"  And excitedly I ran, expecting to see a dead deer.  Seeing nothing of the sort, I asked, "Where?"  "Right there,"  But all I saw was a bird.  And then, I got it.  Well, I got to give some kids that very same disappointment this afternoon.  Killdeer are ground nesters, and their mottled brown backs belnd in to the mottled brown of a prairie with little new growth.  Nesting killdeer are definitely a sign of spring, but I can't put a date on it.  Due to my oft mentioned poor birding skills, the only thing of which I can be certain is they've probably been here for a while. 

3.  Cattails.  Nothing really exciting happening with cattails, but they fit the theme and I took this photo that I thought was pretty cool. 

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