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Wildlife Spotting and Identification Tips

Wildlife Spotting and Identification Tips

Wildlife spotting and identification comes naturally to me. While roaming around a park yesterday, I realized 95% of the visitors were missing the “nature” part of the lake. There were birds we see quite often like the Canada Goose and mallards. A few people were feeding the ducks despite warnings that it’s bad for the birds.

We were looking beyond the obvious. Ever see those white birds flying between wetlands and lakes in our area?

Meet the Great Egret. I usually see this bird in the air or quietly standing by the shore looking for fish. This bird is rather tall. Notice the coloration: yellow beak and black feet. We’ve been discussing the differences in birds and their names a lot lately in our family.

Check out this guy:

Another white bird which could easily be mistaken for the first. Let’s look for the differences. This bird is shorter than the GREAT Egret. The colors are also reversed: black beak and yellow feet instead of the other way around. This is the Snowy Egret. Check for subtle differences and you can look up the details when you get home.

To a casual observer, the lake looked pretty lifeless. People were fishing, but I never saw anyone catch anything. The water looked like this:

What’s that I see floating on the water? Is it a stick?

Pretty sure that’s a turtle! In fact, there are lots of little heads poking up out of the water at this end of the lake. Hmm, I know turtles like to sun themselves on rocks. So we take a closer look at the shore:

Are those turtles or rocks?

Look at that!  And there was another big grouping nearby.  Next time you are out at the park, go on a nature walk. See what you can spot. What looks different? Is there anything there that you’ve never seen before? 

Remember, there’s more to parks than playgrounds if you just take the time to look.


Wednesday 14th of July 2010

Those geese rule that park, don't they? It's pretty amazing. The egrets never disappoint, either!

I'm always shocked by the people feeding the ducks RIGHT NEXT TO the signs that explain why it's so bad for them. Makes me sad.


Wednesday 14th of July 2010

Love this post. I couldn't agree more about the reality that most people don't look close enough to see all the life going on right in front of them. We love taking close up looks inside all the ponds, lakes & rivers to see what's going on inside. And like you, identifying differences among birds has become a big deal lately in our family.

Marghanita Hughes

Wednesday 14th of July 2010

Great post Michele. Love the Canadian Geese. We have so much fun thinking about what we can hear, see and touch on the way to the beach during my Little Humbugs nature classes. The kids love to fill out their activity sheet at the end of their class. It gets them thinking about what they heard, saw and collected along the way. Wishing you more great adventures in nature this summer.

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