Label: Animals

September 4, 2014

I love watching American Goldfinches at out bird feeder during the spring and summer months. They’re smaller than sparrows and their colors range from bright gold to pale yellow depending upon the season and whether they’re male, female or young birds. They are usually in groups of anywhere to a few to more than a dozen. This is a photo of a juvenile goldfinch at our feeder (notice the spiky pinfeathers).

I think what I love best is the way they fly and sing as they fly. They swoop down from nearby trees to the feeder in a kind of rising and falling flight, singing as they fly. Their song sounds like a series of "per-chick-a-rees" that rises and falls along with their flying. In other words, they sing the way they fly. Amazing!

We use thistle in our bird feeder to attract them and they seem to love feeding on that seed. They feed all summer long at the feeder and also on the seeds that fall on the ground below the feeder. They are migratory birds and fly south in the fall and north in the spring. And I know that I for one will miss them when they depart for warmer climates in the fall. 



Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, birds   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 4, 2014

This is a Cocoa Frog (Hypsiboas sp.), a newly discovered species that lives in the rainforest in Surinam. It was discovered in 2013 along with nearly 20,000 other new species around the world. Biologists and other scientists estimate that there are about 8 million species still unidentified, and that doesn’t include the huge number of microbes - microscopic living things like bacteria - that we have not discovered or named yet.

It almost looks good enough to eat….but I wouldn’t try it! 


Photo: Stuart V Nielsen


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Cool Photo, Frogs   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 8, 2014

What does it mean to "think like an eagle"? Author Kathryn Lasky’s book is a vivid portrayal of the life of a nature photographer and the many strategies (including patience!) that he uses to capture photos of wild animals’ lives.

To become a wildlife photographer, Jack Swedberg spent many years studying animal behavior so he could figure out how to be at the right place at the right time without disturbing the animals. For today’s Writing Wednesday project, read the section of the book below in which Swedberg is preparing to photograph a bald eagle.

After you have read it, think about the language author Kathryn Lasky uses to bring the scene to life, and write about the words that she chooses. How does a sentence like "The big talons extend and appear like splayed stars as the wings scoop the air in front of them" both accurately describe and help the reader to feel the power of the eagle as it comes in to feed? What other powerful language does she use and what is she describing?

Once you are finished writing, you can click on the yellow "Comments" link at the bottom of this blog post to share you writing with others. Have fun thinking like an eagle! 




































Note for Educators: Kathryn Lasky’s book is part of the streaming digital collection from StarWalk Kids Media. Click here if you would like to learn more about subscribing to this high quality, affordable collection of Common Core mentor texts.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(51) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Animals, birds, Conservation, Photography   •  Permalink (link to this article)

December 11, 2013

Writing Wednesday is all about Pandas this week!

Below, you will find excerpts from two different books, both titled Panda. In each of these excerpts, the author is writing about the first days of life for a newborn panda cub.

The first, by Susan Bonners, is an illustrated story. The second, by Caroline Arnold, uses photographs as illustrations.

But those aren’t the only differences between these two books. As you read these passages from the two different books, we want you to think about the differences in the styles of the two authors, and write a paragraph about how they are different.

Things you might think about as you are reading: Why would you choose one Panda book over the other? Would you use these books for different purposes (and what purposes)? Why do you think each author chose her style of presentation? What reaction were the authors trying to get from their readers?

When you have finished writing about the differences between these two pieces of writing, click on the "Comments" button at the bottom of this post to share your writing with others. 


Note for Educators: Both of these books are part of the streaming digital collection from StarWalk Kids Media. Click here if you would like to learn more about subscribing to this high quality, affordable collection of Common Core mentor texts.

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(26) Comments  •   Labels: Common Core, Writing Wednesday, Animals   •  Permalink (link to this article)

December 3, 2013

A Pennsylvania doctor on a Montana fishing trip caught something very surprising - a 25-pound baby moose!

Dr. Karen Sciascia and her guide were fishing in Montana’s Big Hole River when they spotted a moose trying to cross the rushing water. "We were watching this adult female struggling back and forth, and we didn’t see a baby until we got close," said Dr. Sciascia.

The current was so fast that even the large adult moose struggled, and when her calf entered the water it was swept downstream.

Sciascia and guide Seth McLean followed downriver, finally spotting the tiny moose’s nose just above the water. "We got up alongside it, and I scooped it up from the river under its front legs," Sciascia said. "It was [still] breathing, and I could feel its heart beating real fast."

McLean rowed the raft upstream and they dropped off the calf at the other side of the river. The mother had disappeared into the woods but returned to the river after hearing the crying of her young calf. "It was cool to be in the right place at the right time," Sciascia said.




Thanks to the Missoulian for the information in this story.

Photo: Four Rivers Fishing Company

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Cool Photo, nature   •  Permalink (link to this article)

November 5, 2013



Did you ever have a day when you just feel like you need a hug? This mother and baby giraffe are obviously having that kind of a day, and that is our Cool Photo of the Week.

Photographer Marsha Williams tells us that this baby was a newborn. Can you imagine being up and walking when you were less than one day old? 









Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Cool Photo   •  Permalink (link to this article)

October 22, 2013

Do you ever watch the great wildlife documentaries on Discovery Channel and wonder how they get their amazing footage of animals living in the wild? I know I do.

There is a new Discovery documentary called PENGUINS: WADDLE ALL THE WAY coming up on November 23 here in the U.S. And to get the footage of the penguins, Discovery used robotic "penguins," fitted with cameras, who lived among the real birds! More than 50 of these remote control cameras lived with penguins - some disguised as adults, some as chicks, and some even camouflaged as eggs.

Producer John Downer, who developed the "penguin-cams," says that the robot cameras can "swim, toboggan, waddle, jump and even lay fake eggs. In fact, they appear so lifelike that some of the penguins try to befriend them."

And for all these reasons, the penguin-cam is our Cool Photo of the Week! 


Photo: John Downer / Discovery Channel 


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Cool Photo, Penguins   •  Permalink (link to this article)

October 15, 2013

Jim Arnosky’s exciting story about running into a dangerous crocodile while paddling in the Florida mangroves is the focus of today’s Writing Wednesday.

Jim is a wonderful science writer - a true naturalist who writes and paints from what he experiences in nature. 

  In the excerpt below, from his new book WATER STORIES: ADVENTURES AFLOAT, Jim tells about a day spent exploring in a kayak with his wife, Deanna. He describes the boat as sitting very low in the water - just a couple of inches off the surface - which makes it ideal for sliding under branches hanging over the water. It is not so ideal, however, if there is a dangerous animal in the water. Here’s how Jim Arnosky describes the moment when they came upon what appeared to be a floating, rough-barked log:


For your Writing Wednesday activity, I want you to imagine that you are in that kayak and come upon a dangerous croc. What are you thinking? How would you feel? What would you DO? Look closely at all the details in Jim’s painting, and describe the scene as powerfully as you can.

When you are finished, you can click on the yellow "comments" button below to post your writing for others to read.

Happy (scary!) writing!

Note to Educators: Jim Arnosky and I have been friends and colleagues for a long time, and I am so pleased that he has written this new book, WATER STORIES: ADVENTURES AFLOAT for my digital publishing company, StarWalk Kids Media. If you have not checked out our exceptionally high quality and very affordable streaming eBook collection, I hope that you will soon.


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Animals Nobody Loves, Animals, Exploration   •  Permalink (link to this article)

October 15, 2013

I love the fact that these tiny yellow-billed oxpeckers and the huge Cape buffalo live their whole lives together - so I made them our Cool Photo of the Week.

The Cape buffalo and the oxpeckers live together in what is called a "symbiotic relationship," meaning that each of them benefits from being with the other. These birds live their entire lives on their hosts, except when they are nesting in the cavities of trees.

The birds keep the Cape buffalo clean, removing ticks and other insects that are burrowing into its hide. Oxpeckers also hiss when something frightens them, a useful warning to the buffalo, who is prey to other African animals.

The birds have a constant source of food in the insects they eat off the buffalo, and they are also relatively safe from predators when they are on their host animal.

Photographer Marsha Williams, who snapped these shots while on a photo safari in Kenya (Africa), told us: "I love that they are bold enough to go inside his ear and his nose. Kinda gross, but funny!"

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Animals Nobody Loves, Animals, Cool Photo   •  Permalink (link to this article)

October 9, 2013

It’s Writing Wednesday and today we would like to hear from readers about what they named their pets, and why.

  My first dog was a Springer Spaniel named Nova. Nova means "a new star" and that’s what NOVA was: a new star in our family. I loved her so much that years ago, when I did a book called DISCOVERING WHAT PUPPIES DO, I asked the illustrator Susan Bonners to come to my house to use Nova as a model for one of the illustrations in the book! I was looking at the book today for the first time in a long time, and smiled seeing the dedication I wrote back then: "For Nova. Always a Puppy." She was a great dog and faithful friend.

My stepdaughter Jules had a Golden Retriever whom she named "Lyra," after the adventurous female character ‘Lyra Silvertongue’ in a book that she like very much, called The Golden Compass.

What did you name your pet, and why did your choose that name? Does it refer to something you love, like I love science or like Jules loved that fictional character? Or does it have something to do with the way your pet looks? How it behaves?

Write a paragraph or two about your pet, what its name is, and why you named it that. Include details that will help us understand why you love that name and how you feel about your pet. You can click on the yellow "Comments" link at the bottom of this page if you would like to share your writing for others to read.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(17) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Animals, Dogs, Pets   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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