Label: Animals

March 14, 2013



The battle continues, as I try to keep squirrels from eating all the seed in my "squirrel proof" bird feeder. The cage-like shape is supposed to keep the squirrels out, while the birds fly right through the bars and eat.



But, the squirrels lift up the top and eat all the food. Yesterday I tried locking it down with strong packing tape, but that was no good. What should be next? An idea bounced into my head. Bungee cords! That would do it. Bungee cords are super strong and they have hooks at each end. They’ll hook right into the wires of the cage. Why didn’t I think of that first? No problem!


In a few minutes when I came back to look, the bungee cords were gone. Where could they be? I could barely pull them up. Surely the squirrels are not strong enough to pull up a bungee cord! Well, they aren’t strong enough, but their teeth are certainly sharp enough! They had bitten right through the bungee cords and the cords lay on the ground beneath the feeder. And there was my friend the squirrel, having a little snack.

  Anyone have a better idea?

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, birds, Great Squirrel Robbery   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 13, 2013

Seymour Simon has been writing this week about his battle to keep the squirrels from breaking into his "squirrel proof" bird feeder and eating all the seed that is meant for the birds. It is especially annoying because it is winter, and he knows that his feathered friends appreciate the food he puts out for them. Despite the special "cage" that is around his bird feeder, the squirrels still find a way to break in and eat the food.

  Now, we all know that squirrels can’t read, but if they could, maybe a stern, strong warning would keep them from touching the birds’ winter food.

Your assignment: Imagine that it is your job to create a sign that warns squirrels about the consequences if they steal from the bird feeder. Your writing needs to be short and punchy - 50 words or less - so that it will fit on the sign with nice, big letters and be easy to read.

When you have finished your "Squirrel Warning" sign, click on the yellow "Comments" link at the bottom of this blog post to show us your writing.

Use strong, action verbs and powerful adjectives to tell squirrels why stealing the birds’ food is simply NOT OK.

Have fun!

Bird Identification: Red-Breasted Nuthatch

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Animals, birds, Great Squirrel Robbery   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 12, 2013

If you read my blog earlier today, you know that I am in a battle with the squirrels who are breaking into my "squirrel proof" bird feeder and eating all the food.

So, the squirrels are winning…at least for now. I have to find a way to lock the top of the bird feeder so that the squirrels can’t simply lift up the top and reach in to get the nuts and other things they like. Looking at the feeder, it though it would be easy. All I have to do is to use some tape to close the top. Strong tape, packing box tape is just the thing, I thought. I taped several pieces and criss-crossed them over the top of the feeder. Well, that settles that, I said to myself. That’ll show those squirrels who’s in charge here.

In a few minutes when I came back to look, I found out who was in charge. The squirrels, of course! They had easily chewed through the tape, lifted the top and were happily enjoying the seed. Round two for the squirrels!

  Now what?    

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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

March 12, 2013

Feeding birds at a bird feeder is not new, but for me, setting up my own feeder has been an eye opener. I used to watch the birds at a feeder and think to myself, that’s interesting but all those birds look alike. Or at least they look like two kinds: big birds and little birds. All that changed when I set up my own feeder near my country house and started to use good binoculars to look at the birds. Suddenly I saw that there were all kinds of birds at the feeder, some with crested heads, some with black streaks on their heads, some had dabs of color here and there, females looked different than males, and so on and so on. I began to use a bird identification book constantly. In the first few days I had logged over a dozen different kinds of birds using the feeder. What fun, I thought. Now I have to set up a feeder just outside my kitchen window in my downstate home in Great Neck, on Long Island.

One of the problems with bird feeders is that squirrels like bird feeders, too. And on Long Island there are plenty of squirrels and most of them seem to hang out around my kitchen window. Squirrels eat all the food, and keep the birds away from the feeder. I know what I’m going to do, I thought. 

I’ll get a squirrel-proof feeder, the one that has a cage outside the feeder, completely enclosing the feeder inside.

It looks sort of like a bird cage with the feeder inside. The squirrels will never break into that, I thought. Well, it took only a couple of hours for the squirrels to figure out that the "squirrel-proof" cage was "really-not-squirrel-proof at all!" 

All the squirrels had to do was lift up the top of the feeder (the part that I lifted to put the seeds inside), reach in and grab all the seeds they wanted.

What should I do? I am determined to match wits with my squirrels! After all, I am a writer, an author, a teacher. How can a squirrel match wits with me? Easily, it turned out! I wasn’t nearly as smart as I thought! OR, the squirrels were a lot smarter than I had realized. OR maybe both! 

Anyone have a suggestion about what I should try next?


Bird Identification:
Top Left: White-Breasted Nuthatch


Bottom Right: Black-Capped Chickadee (have you ever heard their call? It sounds like: "chick-a-DEE-dee-dee")


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: SeeMore Explorers, Animals, birds, Great Squirrel Robbery   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 25, 2013

I’ve kept freshwater aquariums for many years and I’ve always enjoyed setting them up and keeping them going. But it’s been a long time since I’ve set up a saltwater (marine) aquarium. Nearly forty years ago I even wrote a book titled TROPICAL SALTWATER AQUARIUMS but technology and our understanding of keeping aquariums have changed. So when I decided to set up a new saltwater aquarium, I pretty much had to start from the beginning.

I had just finished writing my new book about CORAL REEFS and I wanted to see if I could keep some kinds of coral in an aquarium, so I decided that I would set up a reef aquarium. A reef aquarium contains both fishes and some kinds of coral and other invertebrates as well. My aquarium has been going for about two months now and everything seems to be going fine. I have two saltwater fish (a clown fish and a yellow tailed blue damsel), an anemone (called a bubble-tipped anemone), hermit crabs and several kinds of coral.

Imagine my surprise the other day when I saw a new kind of living thing in the tank; something I had never put into the tank. I pulled out my LED flashlight to take a better look and saw that the mysterious visitor had a central trunk and then a top with many waving tentacles. I imagine that it come in as a hitchhiker on some rocks or plants that I had put into the tank. So I decided to try to find out what it was and whether it was a welcome or unwelcome intruder. I used the SeeMore Explorers Observation Log and wrote down what I saw.

Well, the mysterious visitor turned out to be a kind of anemone and a very unwelcome one at that. You can read how I found out on the observation log (below). As to what I did then, you’ll have to read that on my next installment on the blog! 


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: SeeMore Explorers, Animals, Coral Reefs, Oceans   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 20, 2013

This is Banana Joe. He is the top dog in America this week - the first affenpinscher to ever win ‘Best in Show’ at the historic Westminster Dog Show.

  Some people think that the affenpinscher’s face looks more like a monkey than a dog. What do you think? 




For today’s Writing Wednesday, we want you to write about whether you think Banana Joe’s face looks like a dog or like a monkey. Give reasons that support your opinion, and if you can, use linking words like because, since, or for example to help explain your opinion.

Have fun!


Note to Educators: Today’s Writing Wednesday exercise is designed to use in support of CCSS Writing Standard #1: Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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

February 18, 2013

Tourists on a whale watching boat off the coast of California saw a rare sight this week. Their boat followed thousands of dolphins in a superpod that the captain estimated was seven miles (11 kilometers) long and five miles (8 kilometers) wide. The ship’s captain estimated there were 100,000 dolphins.

Of course, we know that dolphins are highly social animals, living in pods of as many as a dozen dolphins. Sometimes, especially when there is a lot of food in the area, pods come together into superpods. That appears to be what happened here.

Can you imagine all the talking with that many dolphins together? I would love to have seen (and heard) that sight!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(5) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Animals, Dolphins, Oceans   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 13, 2013

Good morning, and welcome to Writing Wednesday. Look at these cute baby owls! Today, we would like you to take a few minutes and write six words that describe the animals in this photograph. That’s all there is to it.

You don’t need to write whole sentences. Just give us six adjectives (adjectives are words that describe a thing) that come to mind when you look at this photograph. When you are done, click on the yellow "Comments" button at the bottom of this blog to post your writing. Have fun with it!



Posted by: Liz Nealon

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

February 12, 2013

In honor of Valentine’s Day, our Cool Photo of the Week is this shot of a Pygmy Seahorse.




These tiny creatures are found in the waters off Southeast Asia. They live on soft corals or grasses which they use as camouflage.

These are some of the smallest seahorse species in the world - most are less than 2 centimetres (0.79 inches) tall.










This second photo, published by Ali Watters on TravelBlog, shows just how tiny  the pygmy seahorse is - about the size of the fingernail on his pinky finger!


Happy Valentine’s Day to all our readers! 

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Coral Reefs, Oceans, Cool Photo, Holidays   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 25, 2013

When a dolphin needed help off the coast of Hawaii, he swam right up to a scuba instructor and let him know.

Keller Laros was leading a group of divers on a tour off the coast of Kona, Hawaii, last week.  "All of a sudden I heard a loud squeak, and I turned around, and the dolphin was literally three feet behind me," Laros said. "He swam right up to me."

The diving instructor could tell that something was wrong, and looking more closely, he saw that there was a fishing line hooked onto his fin.

"I said, ‘come here,’ and he swam right up to me," he said. "I put my hand out and I tried to get the fishing hook out of his left pectoral fin." But the animal was having trouble swimming because his fin was still tangled up in the fishing line. The 10-foot long dolphin - almost twice as long as his rescuer was tall - waited patiently while Laros rummaged through the dive tools that he carries in his suit, pulling out a pair of small scissors.

He was able to clip the line off of the dolphin’s mouth and fin, but there was still a little left. They waited while the dolphin went up for a breath of air and came back down. Then Laros and another dive guide removed as much line from under the fin as they could. 

"I guess the dolphin was happy with our work. He swam away and we never saw him again," he said. "It’s a huge thrill to be able to help an animal that clearly knows what’s going on," he said. "He made the effort to come to us… The dolphin is really intelligent. It’s a relationship. He came to us because he had a problem." 

One of the divers in the class that Laros was teaching had a video camera and filmed the whole interaction. Here it is for you to see. Isn’t that a magnificent moment between two intelligent mammals?


Video courtesy of Jack’s Diving Locker, Kona, Hawaii 




Posted by: Seymour Simon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Animals, Dolphins, Video   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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