mystery The answer to the clues may be found at the bottom of this column.    Teachers and Parents: Enter to win an entire set of Dawn’s nature books of one title for your home or classroom. It's fun and easy!
Just read the clues below. They describe an aspect of nature—a plant, animal, mineral, habitat, or natural process.
When you're ready to make your guess about who or what I am, click ENTER NOW.
Who Am I?
spacerglass1 Clue 1:  I'm a member of the "dog family."
glass1 Clue 2:  I live throughout North America in deserts, prairies, forests, and even in towns and cities.
glass1 Clue 3:  You might hear me howling at night to communicate with my pack.
glass1 Clue 4:  Don't let me trick you—I am NOT a wolf.
Do you think you know who I am? ENTER NOW.
Entries should be submitted no later than noon on Friday.
If you guessed correctly, you’re automatically entered into the monthly drawing for a set of nature books from Dawn Publications.
A contest winner will be announced at the end of September.
Throughout the school year, clues for a new Who Am I are posted no later than Sunday night, so you can use them with your class on Monday morning.Good luck!
The answer to last week's mystery was: SEASHELLS Although Inside Outside Nature blog is changing it's focus, this weekly "Who Am I?" will remain the same! Teachers, click here to get ideas about how to use the contest with your students.  

Animals on the Move

I heard them before I saw them. Sandhill Cranes were traveling southward on their annual fall migration. Naturalist Aldo Leopold described the crane’s call as “a pandemonium of trumpets, rattles, croaks, and cries.” Intently listening, I scanned the sky. It was almost dark; would I see them? Yes! A flock flew directly overhead. I was transported to a prehistoric time—Sandhill Cranes made this same journey 2.5 million years ago.

Millions of birds are on the move across North America making their way to wintering grounds in warmer climates. While some birds (grouse and quail) make short migrations from higher to lower elevations, other birds make truly heroic journeys. One record-setter is the Bar-Tailed Godwit. Every autumn this small shorebird makes an eight-day journey from Alaska to New Zealand. It flies non-stop, without once breaking the journey to rest or eat. The Arctic Tern holds the record for making the longest migration of any animal—close to 50,000 miles a year (with stops), or the equivalent of 3 journeys to the moon and back over a tern’s roughly 30-year lifetime.

Scientists are still unraveling the mysteries of migration. They believe that some birds find their way by using the sun and stars. Some scientists also suggest that birds’ brains have a sort of internal compass that lets them sense the earth’s magnetic field. Studying migration offers interesting ways to incorporate science into your math, literature, and geography classes.

Inside: Going Home

Birds aren’t the only animals on the move. Whales, caribou, sea turtles, and butterflies are examples of some of the other North American animals that seasonally change their homes. Mariane Berkes’ book Going Home: The Mystery of Animal Migration introduces students to ten animals who make yearly migrations. Teachers from the National Science Teacher’s Association (NSTA) developed the following lesson to engage K-4th graders. Before class, print out several sets of bookmarks with pictures of the 10 animals featured in Going Home. (Bookmarks are available as a free download on the Dawn Publications website.)

  1. Give each group of 3–4 students a set of bookmarks.
  2. Show students the cover of Going Home and read the first page aloud. Tell them that as you read the rest of the book, you are not going to show them the pictures because you would like them to infer from the text which animal you are reading about.
  3. After reading the left-hand page for each animal, ask students to hold up the bookmark with the picture of the animal they think you are reading about. Then, read the right-hand side of the page about that animal and show them the picture.

Outside: Migration Tag

This active running game  illustrates bird migration. The object of the game is for the “birds” to safely migrate from their summer habitat to their winter habitat without getting tagged by the “hazard.” (Actual hazards birds might encounter  include storms, high-rise buildings, predators, lack of food.)

Before playing: Place one marker (such as a piece of construction paper or unfolded bandana) for every two students at each end of the playing area (at least 20 feet apart). One end represents the summer habitat and the other end the winter habitat. In between the two habitats, place a marker for every 2 students—this is the stop-over area. When standing on a marker, the bird is safe. Only two birds at a time can stop on the same marker.

How to play:

  1. All players start in the summer habitat area, no more than two children to a marker. Explain that the markers represent ideal habitat for the birds.
  2. One player stands between the summer area and the stopover area. This player represents the hazards that migrating birds face.
  3. When you call, “migrate,” the birds fly to the stopover area. The hazard, tries to tag as many flying birds as possible. The tagged players become new hazards that spread over the play area.
  4. Call migrate and the birds move from the stopover area to the winter habitat. The birds continue to move back and forth over the playing field when prompted to migrate.
  5. You can remove or add any number of markers at the summer, stopover, or winter areas – giving the students a story about habitat loss or preservation due to natural or human causes. Randomly select tagged students to return to playing birds, representing successful breeding. End the game at any point.

More Migration Fun and Facts

The BLUES Go Exteme Birding introduces children to record-setting birds all around the world, such as the Bar-headed Goose that flies the highest in its migration over the Himalayan Mountains. I really loved researching this book, and had to add an “Extra Extreme” on each page so I could include even more record-setters.

Play the “Mission Migration” online game from the National Audubon Society. In this game children help their flock migrate safely by learning how choices they make each and every day around your home, school, and neighborhood can affect the fate of these migrating birds – in both positive and negative ways.

Project Feeder Watch from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a citizen science project that counts birds from November through April. It’s an excellent way to involve kids in real-world scientific data collection. Great for home or school.


In the spring, Sandhill Cranes gather in the Platte River Valley in Nebraska as they make their back north. Visit the Nebraska Flyway website for lots of great crane information.