Family Science

January Flies in on Little Bird Wings

by rockprogram on Jan. 1st, 2012 No Comments

Winter is here, it’s chilly and gets dark outside early. However there’s quite a party going on outdoors and we don’t want you to miss it! The birds are coming here to escape the very cold weather up north and the herring are coming to lay their eggs. We suggest ways for you to get out and see them both. Plus Tis the Season for Science is here at the Academy until January 16th. The remainder of January will see the start of our new “Love is in the Air…and Under the Sea” theme.

Watching Winter

Surf Scoter by mikebairdThe water birds are here, happily avoiding the snow and cold weather up in Alaska. This is one of the best times of year to see them, and don’t let a lack of binoculars stop you. Here’s a quick guide to birding events for families in January, many include use of free binoculars and guides to help you distinguish a surf scoter from a coot.

If you’d like to read more about bird migration with your children, The Atlas of Bird Migration: Tracing the great journeys of the world’s birds is a great place to start. Plus there’s the interesting story of John James Audubon, who not only drew birds but also made discoveries about bird migrations in North America. It might inspire your own little naturalists.

Herring by California Dept of Fish and GameThe water birds of San Francisco can count on a nutritious feast in January as the herring run into the bay to lay their eggs on eel grass and piers. Many birds congregate where the herring are laying, eating as much as 50 percent of the eggs. Humans also benefit from the herring run and starting on January 2nd, the commercial herring season begins in our bay. If you see fishing boats putting out their nets and lots of birds, you can be quite sure there are herring below in the water. Commerical boats cannot fish in the bay from Friday noon to Sunday 5pm, so you might not see them on the weekends. You also won’t see boats or even kayaks in Richardson Bay (near Tiburon), as it is a sanctuary for birds October 1 – March 31st. Follow this link and scroll down to see and learn more about birds that use the Richardson Bay sanctuary and San Francisco Bay.

Tis the Season for Science continues

Red Cardinal by Marcos Vasconcelos PhotographyIt’s still snowing in our Piazza until January 16th, at 25 minutes past the hour and 55 minutes past the hour. Our soap bubble snow looks just like the real thing as it drifts down around you. If you have a 4-8 year old child, be sure to bring them for Family Nature Crafts which are making a Red Cardinal on January 1st from 10am-12:30pm (or until 100 have been given out) near the swamp. And January 15th 2:30 – 3:30pm, take your 4-8 year old on a Science Story Adventure all about Winter Animals, meet in the 3rd floor classroom (ask for directions in the Naturalist Center).

Love is in the Air…and Under the Sea

Herring Roe by GregTheBuskerDoes love draw the herring into San Francisco Bay to spawn? Starting January 17th at the Academy, we will be exploring the birds and the bees. The Naturalist Center’s Science Story Adventures on January 22nd at 2:30pm addresses this theme with birds. Plus the Naturalist Center will have a new book, media and specimen display on mating, new life and parenting in the natural world. The Early Explorers Cove will help 3-5 year olds plan a garden at 2pm on January 10th or 24th as part of the Sprouts! program. A garden is a great place to see bees at work.

image credits:
Red Cardinal Marcos Vasconcelos Photography
Surf Scoter mikebaird
Herring California Department of Fish and Game
Herring Roe GregTheBusker

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