Saturday, August 13, 2011

Butterflies and Coyote Poop

As camp nears the end and I have less administrative duties, I've been able to spend a little more time with the kids. It always strikes me that there are many opportunities for education when it hasn't been scheduled. One such opportunity came up the other day when I was walking dogs with a group of kids.

I pointed out a couple of beautiful monarch butterflies and one of the kids wondered why there were so many in the field where HAWS volunteers walk dogs. I pointed to the milkweed plants and explained that monarch butterflies lay their eggs only on milkweed and that the caterpillars eat only milkweed.

Later on that same walk one of kids noticed a big pile of poop laying on the ground. As I pulled out out a bag ans started to pick it up, I saw another educational opportunity and started to talk about why it's important to pick up after dogs (and was secretely annoyed by the dog walking volunteer who apparently didn't do so), when I noticed that it wasn't dog poop.

The poop was a very dark black and had berry seeds in it -- it was coyote scat. I pointed these features out to the kids (yes, they actually were interested - isn't everyone interested in poop?) and talked about the fact that wildlife biologists use scat in their study of animals. Biologists can tell a lot about an animal through their poop such as their range of territory, health and diet.

All in all it was a good walk.

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