Naturalist Notebook 

May 8, 2012

Spotlight On…

Check out this week’s featured specimen!

(Pictured below, really close up!)

Photo: N. Sincero © California Academy of Sciences

Can you guess what it is?

Here are some hints:

  • Breeding pairs of this species stay together all year round and migrate south with their offspring.
  • They are found in wetlands and agricultural fields.

Leave us a comment with your answer! Then come see us in the Classroom on Sunday, May 13th at 2:30 pm for Science Story Adventures to see if you’re right and to learn more about this animal. Science Story Adventures is our program for children ages 4 – 8 and their caregivers. In the program, we explore the natural world through stories, specimens, games and crafts.

March 1, 2011

Ask a Naturalist: How Can I Make My Own Living Roof?

Living Roof
Photo:Living Roof at the California Academy of Sciences

We love our living roof for lots of reasons, but one that really stands out is its power to inspire.  Visitors often come into the Naturalist Center wondering how they can recreate this green design in their own homes.

Luckily, we have some great resources for using your roof, whether you are interested in a full-scale remodel or in just discovering a few things you can do to better utilize this space.


Building Green: A Complete How-to Guide to Alternative Building Methods: Earth Plaster, Straw Bale, Cordwood, Cob, Living Roofs / Clarke Snell & Tim Callahan. New York : Lark Books, c2005. Naturalist Center TH4860 .S63 2005
This book is a primer for owner-designed building and includes more than just living roofs.

Green Roof Plants: A Resource and Planting Guide / Edmund C. Snodgrass, Lucie L. Snodgrass. Portland, Or.: Timber Press, 2006. Naturalist Center SB419.5 .S66 2006
Intended for a broad spectrum of readers, from architects to home gardeners, this book discusses greenery for a green roof.

Green Roofs: Ecological Design and Construction / Earth Pledge. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Pub., c2005.  Naturalist Center SB419.5. G73 2005.
For a little lighter reading, take some time to enjoy this book’s beautiful photographs.

Planting Green Roofs and Living Walls
/ Nigel Dunnett and Noël Kingsbury. Portland, Or.: Timber Press, 2008. Naturalist Center SB419.5 .D85 2008
Comprehensive and a little technical, this book provides an overview of the how and why of green roofs and living walls.

At the Naturalist Center, Academy Members and California teachers can check out five books for three weeks and two DVDs or other media for one week, with one renewal possible. For more information, visit us at

Organizations, Businesses and Web Resources

Rana Creek Nursery in Carmel Valley prepared the plants for our living roof, so they may be able to help with finding suitable plants:

The SWA Group (Sausalito) built our roof. Their clients do seem to be mainly on the institutional level, so they may not do work for individuals:

Bay Localize, an Oakland-based nonprofit, has resources and a guidebook for a project called Use your roof!  They specifically talk about rooftop gardens, capturing rainwater and generating solar power:

REGREEN is a non-profit that provides guidelines and resources for Green Remodeling projects:

Although Chicago Green Roofs provides a guide geared specifically for that city, the advice is adaptable for Californian needs. The site also has a great links page:

Finding More

Most of our books use the term “green roof,” but resources are also findable by using the keywords “living roof.” In any library catalog, the subject headings “Green roofs (Gardening),” “Sustainable architecture” and “Building — Environmental aspects” should be useful.
And you can always ask for advice from people sources!  In fact, we’d like to hear from you.  Do you have any recommendations for resources about living roofs?  Leave a comment below!

If you have a question or an unidentified natural history specimen or need some assistance finding an awesome science book to impress your friends with, we’d love to help.  You can contact us at

Filed under: Ask a Naturalist,Research Guides — nature @ 2:58 pm

August 4, 2010

Searching the Library Catalog


Need help finding a book? Watch this short video on searching for a book in the catalog by title or author.

Filed under: Research Guides — nature @ 9:51 am

March 20, 2009

Evolution Research Guide for Kids

Photo: Charles Darwin, 1816.

A research guide for kids interested in finding out about evolution. You can use it for school projects or just for yourself. Download a copy here.

Filed under: Research Guides — nature @ 10:41 am

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