This week on Take It Outside, explore the world of our local animals. In past Take It Outside posts, we’ve explored reptiles and amphibians, mammals, birds, and insects. Find information and activities about these topics and more on our archive page. This week, we’re exploring aquatic animals, animal signs, and animal behavior in our outdoor challenges. Plus, take a special look at New Mexico’s fish in this week’s blog post!
Summer Nature Challenge:
Participate in our Summer Nature Challenge! Every week, participants who complete the challenge can earn a sticker. If you finish all nine weeks, you’ll earn a bonus sticker! Find our archive containing all of our past Take It Outside activities here.
Download the challenge sheet here to print out and complete at home. At the end of the challenge, you can either bring it to the nature center or mail it to us at 2600 Canyon Rd, Los Alamos, NM 87544.
If you don’t have a printer or prefer to work online, you can tell us about your experiences in the Google Form below or email your stories and pictures to email@example.com.
Do you like to fish? Have you ever wondered how native and introduced fish in our ecosystem differ? Casey Harthorn of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish discusses fish in New Mexico, with a special look at our state’s native and introduced trout species. Read his blog post here.
We’re posting three outdoor challenges today that you can enjoy throughout the week!
Tell us about your experiences with one, two, or all three of them! You can do this in the Google Form below, by writing or drawing about them on our summer challenge sheet, or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Challenge #1 – Aquatic Animals:
Northern New Mexico doesn’t have a lot of water, but aquatic animals are able to find and take advantage of even very small bodies of water to grow and reproduce.
Seek out water in your area, like rivers, lakes or reservoirs, stock ponds, springs, or pools in canyon bottoms, and look for signs of aquatic animals. Here are some things to look for:
- Adults and larvae of aquatic invertebrates (insects and other small critters)
- Frog or salamander eggs, tadpoles or nymphs, and adults
- Birds, reptiles, and mammals visiting water sources
Challenge #2 – Animal Scat:
Scat can tell us who was in an area and also what they ate. Go on a hike and look for scat! How many of these can you find? Based on what you find, what types of food are animals eating in your area?
- Scat containing berries or fruit
- Scat containing grass or other plants
- Scat containing fur or bones
- Scat containing insect parts
Remember that all scat contains bacteria, so don’t touch it with your fingers (use a stick!) and wash your hands when you get home. Stay away from dog poop, which is often very uniform in texture and lacks recognizable food items, since most domestic dogs eat processed dog food. Remember to always clean up your own dog’s poop when out on the trail!
Challenge #3 – Animal Behavior:
It’s fascinating to watch animals go about their daily lives. Go outside and find an animal: a bird, insect or other invertebrate, mammal, reptile, amphibian, or fish. Be as still as you can to let it get used to you, and watch what it does. Can you see how it does any of the following things?
- Gathering food and eating
- Moving around
- Regulating its temperature
- Feeding and caring for young
- Taking shelter
- Interacting with others of the same or another species
- Communicating with others
- Defending itself or its young
If you have a nature journal, record some of your observations. Let us know what you notice!
Want to Learn More?
- To identify animals local to the Pajarito Plateau, use PEEC’s nature guides.
- Learn more about the butterflies of Northern New Mexico in our new blog series from local butterfly expert Steve Cary. Check out his first three posts here.
- Find detailed information about animals that call our state home from the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.
- The New Mexico Wildlife Center is hosting a virtual Celebration of Birds on Tuesday, June 30. Join them for a live video tour of their wildlife hospital, bird-themed crafts, and more.
- For some journaling inspiration, check out some of these nature journal pages from John Muir Laws.
Share Your Experience:
Tell us about your outdoor experiences! We’d love to see your photos, too. Please send them to email@example.com or share them on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #peectakeitoutside. If you’d like this to count for the Summer Nature Challenge, be sure to include your name and email address.