Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites
 
Summer 2011           

Dear Junior Ranger,
This issue of The Georgia Junior Ranger  will take a closer look at color patterns in animals.  Our Cool Critter pictured in the Spring E-News was a good example - it was an eastern screech owl that blended in with the colors of the tree trunk.  The owl can sleep safely during the day since it is hard for predators to see them.  
Cindy Reittinger
Chief Naturalist, Georgia State Parks

Also in this Issue:
* Cool Critter Contest
* Ask the Naturalist
* Read More About It
* Wow - What a Find!

* Outdoor Fun

Cool Critter

Can you identify this cool Georgia critter?
Correctly identify this animal by August 6 and be entered to win a free Park Pass - good for free admission to all Georgia State Parks for a whole year!  Email your answer to the Chief Naturalist.

Read & Learn More


Visit your local library and check out these titles:
* Where in the Wild?: Camouflaged Creatures Concealed ...and Revealed by David Schwartz
* What are Camouflage and Mimicry? by Bobbie Kalman
*  It's a Hummingbird's Life by Irene Kelly

Ask the Naturalist
Have a question about nature?  Junior Rangers can submit their questions to the Chief Naturalist.

Dear Chief Naturalist,
Do dragonflies bite?
                             Evonne; Atlanta, GA


Dear Evonne,
Dragonflies are voracious predators and they do bite their prey - which are typically flying insects.  But, do they bite people?  Well, they certainly don't look at us as a food source and you don't need to fear that one will land on you and bite you.  I have however, read that if you are holding a large dragonfly and it is in contact with your skin it may try to bite you.  But, they usually fail to break the skin.


Dear Chief Naturalist,
How do bats keep from falling when they go to sleep? 
                       Justin; Cleveland, GA


Dear Justin,
When humans fall asleep their grip relaxes.  In bats it is just the opposite - bats' feet clench when they are relaxed.  That way they can sleep while hanging upside down without the risk of falling.

Wow - What a Find!

Jessica Aldridge, Asst. Manager at Crooked River State Park found and reported Georgia's first documented nest of roseate spoonbills.  The nest was found  near St. Marys, Ga.

Photo credits:
Masthead: Linda Patrick
Common Green Darner (dragonfly): Giff Beaton
Roseate Spoonbills, Tim Keyes

State Parks Logo
Colorful Protection
Georgia's wildlife exhibit a variety of color patterns which help them survive.  Some blend into the environment so they are hard for predators to find.  In other cases color patterns provide protection by confusing predators.
 
Eyespots or Real Eyes?

This is the tail-end of the Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar.   Scientists believe that the large eyespots startle and scare off potential  predators.  The caterpillar's real eyes are much smaller and found on the other end of the caterpillar. 

Camouflage

The spots on the back of the young white-tailed deer resemble dappled sunlight on the forest floor.  The spots combined with the light brown color make it hard for predators to see the fawn.

Things to Do:
*  Look for other insects in Georgia that have eyespots: Common Buckeye (butterfly), Io Moth
*  Watch this video and see if you can find the camouflaged animals.  You may need to watch it more than once to find them all!
*  Plant spicebush or sassafras in your yard.  Spicebush Swallowtails prefer to lay their eggs on these plants. 

Colorful Attraction

Georgia's ruby-throated hummingbird is attracted to the color red.  Trumpet creeper, a native vine with red tubular flowers  (pictured) benefits because the hummingbird pollinates the plant as it moves from flower to flower slurping up nectar.

Things to do:
* Put up a hummingbird feeder in your backyard - now you know why the feeders are always red!  Make your own hummingbird food by mixing one part sugar with four parts water.
* Go outside and look for color patterns in nature.
* Play the Camouflage Game.

Outdoor Fun

Witch's Head Excursion, Sat., Jul 30 &
Aug 6, 11 a.m-1:00 p.m.

Tallulah Gorge State Park
Enjoy a special guided hike to the bottom of the gorge and see the rock formation shaped like a witch's head. Reservations required, call 706/754-7981.

Hayrides in the Park, Fridays thru Nov. 25
Victoria Bryant State Park

Bring your family for some good old-fashioned fun! Reservations required, call 706/245-6270.

Step Back in Time
A.H. Stephens State Historic Park
Fort McAllister State Historic Park
Pickett's Mill Battlefield State Historic Site

This year marks the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War in Georgia.  Visit our Civil War Sites and see history come to life.
 


 
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