Date: Wednesday, April 10,2013
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (lunch provided)
R.S.V.P. by Monday, April 8 (so we know how much lunch to buy!)

Deer Rib

Finding a pile of bones in the woods can generate lots of questions!

Between late April and mid-June, Audubon will see over 3,000 children at the Nature Center. They come with their school groups on  field trips.

Volunteers are (dare I say, “desperately”?) needed to assist with Discovery Walks during this busy season.

Come on down to meet the naturalists and learn a bit how we manage all those kids. Find out how fun it can be to help them explore nature, overcoming their fears and misconceptions.

In the meantime, explore this site to get an idea of what a Trail Guide Volunteer does, and start writing down your questions!

This Week at Audubon

May 12, 2010

There are several Canada Goose couples whose babies have hatched.  Don’t forget that if a family blocks your path, you can “applaud” to make them move on.

Goslings - Two
Learn more about Canada Geese by clicking –> here.

The non-native honeysuckle is in full bloom. It smells wonderful and looks like buttered popcorn. If you stand and watch, you may see many pollinators, taking advantage of the food, and doing the plant a favor. All that pollination will result in red berries later in the year.

Bees on Honeysuckle by Jenn Orth Honeysuckle

Training Day

February 1, 2010

Save this date!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

This will be a day to go over the basics of what our trail guide volunteers do and how a Discovery Walk proceeds.

We also plan to set up a series of walks to familiarize you with our trails and the kinds of things you are apt to find on your walk with kids.

In the meantime, poke around this website to learn what you can. (You’ll find a few spots where I’m not quite finished… but I’ll get there!

This Week at Audubon

June 8, 2009

Dame's RocketThose pretty tall flowers that range in color from white to dark pink are called Dame’s Rocket.  People like to confuse them with Phlox.  Here’s the difference:

  • Dame’s Rocket has 4 petals and alternating leaves.  (And 6 stamens – 4 up and 2 down… making it a mustard!)
  • Phlox has 5 petals and opposite leaves.

Snails and slugs are harmless creatures that can help you turn a group that thinks nature is ewww to a group that thinks nature is cool!  Try to get everyone to put a snail on his or her hand.  Watch how it first retreats into its shell, then, out come the eye stalks.


Both snails and slugs are considered mollusks even though slugs have no shells.  We have one variety of slug at Audubon – kind of a light brown (pictured below) – that produces a bright orange slime.  If children pet it, it will turn their fingers orange.  We kid about creating a new Crayola Crayon Set called Nature’s Colors.  One of the colors will have to be Slug Slime Orange!


Be sure to handle them gently and put the critters back after you observe them!

This Week at Audubon

June 5, 2009

It’s frog time!

As you walk near the ponds, you are likely to hear the romantic songs of Bullfrogs and Green Frogs.

Both Bullfrogs and Green Frogs can be green, brown, and even dark brown-almost black.  They can both be solid colored or speckled.  Instead of using color as a key to identify, look for ridges.  A Bullfrog has ridges that curve around the tympanum and end at the shoulders.  A Green Frog has parallel ridges that go down its back.

Song = “Brrrrummm”

Green Frog:
 Green Frog
Song = “ngunk ngunk” Profiles (including songs, so turn your speakers on):

This Week at Audubon

May 17, 2009

Nest Boxes!

Eggs and babies can be found in some of the boxes near the building.  Check with staff to see if it is still safe to show children.  The mirrors are working great to give kids a view of the inside of the nest without touching the eggs or babies.  Remind the children that we are monitoring the boxes and know when it is safe to open and check them.  They should never open a box unless they have been monitoring it all along.  If boxes are opened when the babies are strong enough to get out, but not strong enough to feed themselves, they could die.

Baby Chickadees



 We’ve seen the first spittlebugs of the season.  Click here for a post Jen Schlick made a couple of years ago on how she teaches about spittlebugs during a Discovery Walk.


Spittlebugs are the nymph phase of “frog hoppers”.  Read more about them by clicking here (University of Wisconsin Spittlebug page).


Field MustardThe Mustard Family is huge – 3,000+ species in North America alone.  All are edible, though some taste better than others.  (Please don’t encourage the children to eat plants!  Later when they’re not with you, they may not be able to distinguish between the safe and unsafe plants!)

There is plenty of Field Mustard growing at Audubon now…  Use magnifiers to look for the characterstics of mustard:  4 petals, 6 stamens – 4 tall and 2 short.  Then look for other 4-petalled flowers to see if they also have 6 stamens- 4 tall and 2 short.  If so, they are mustards, too.  Mustards blooming around Audubon now include:

Garlic Mustard
Garlic Mustard

Cuckoo Flower
Cuckoo Flower

Some of the mustards are going to seed.  Mustard seed pods are called siliques (suh-leeks’).  You can use your magnifiers to investigate the seedpods which are rather interesting in and of themselves!  Read more about mustards by clicking here.

This Week at Audubon

May 7, 2009

Canada Geese

More Experiments with Digital ZoomSeveral families of geese can be found swimming, walking, lounging, eating, and (of course) pooping at Audubon!  If you come across a family of geese while hiking, do not approach too closely.  If the family doesn’t move automatically, “applaud” them.  The noise from your clapping hands is usually enough to convince them to retreat to the safety of the pond.

New Bridge

Building a BridgeThe guys have been working diligently on replacing the bridge that connects Maple West and Redwing trails.  It’s OK to walk on the temporary bridge until the new one is complete.  (The water in the pond is low because we took boards out of the water control device.  Once the bridge is complete, we will put boards back in and the water level will rise.)


It’s clearly spring!  Everything seems to be in bloom.   Here are a few of the flowers you can expect to see at Audubon this week:

Apple Blossom
Apples and Crabapples:  There are many varieties on the property, some probably planted by the farmers who owned this land decades ago, others “volunteers” that have sprung up naturally.

Flowering Quince CloseupFlowering Quince:  That bush on the hill with the bright orange flowers is called Flowering Quince.  You can read more about this plant by clicking here.

Cuckoo Flowers:  The whitish-pinkish flowers that tower above the grasss are supposedly named after the fact that they bloom at about the same time that the cuckoo returns from winter habitats…

Cuckoo Flowers

Wooly Alder Aphids

Some of the Alders are now covered with Wolly Alder Aphids.  Look for them also on new leaves of Silver Maple.  Read more than you possibly wanted to know about them by clicking here.

Alder with aphids and ladybugThis is a good place to remind kids about food chains:  The alder tree is making food through photosynthesis.  The aphids are primary consumers – sucking juices from the plant.  Plant-eaters are called herbivores.  The ladybugs are here to eat the aphids making them carnivors and secondary consumers.

Searching for Aphids

Nestbox Update

There are chickadee eggs in the box near overflow parking on Maple West.

Chickadee Nest and Eggs

Not an Oil Spill

That shiny stuff on top of the pond is not oil.  It’s a naturally occurring bacteria that actually helps the ecosystem.  Read more about it by clicking here.