Posts Tagged ‘biology’

FEATHER YOUR NEST!

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14-21 February was National Nest Box Week.. However, as Spring approaches, any week is good for putting up nest boxes. If you have trees in your school grounds, why not give it a go?  As the NNBW website explains, “Natural nest sites for birds such as holes in trees or old buildings are disappearing fast as gardens are ‘tidied’ and old houses are repaired. Taking part in NNBW gives you the chance to contribute to bird conservation whilst giving you the pleasure of observing any breeding birds that you attract to your nest box”

Science-wise, you could do a good investigation into habitats with your class, studying habitat requirements and choosing the best location in the school grounds to place a nest box. Designing and building nestboxes could even be a cross-curricular DT project.

Although NNBW is over, BTO are actively encouraging continued interest in nest boxes, and their website is still active here, with lots of great resources.

In the meantime, we’ll be bringing you more Springtime science ideas soon!

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Autumnwatch #4: The Comma: Is it a leaf? Is it a form of punctuation? No, it’s a Butterfly!

IMG_0465  Another butterfly that you might catch flying on these sunny Autumn days is the Comma (Polygonia c-album). A member of Nymphalidae, it is drawn to late autumn flowers and fallen fruit. It’s a very interesting species for a number of reasons. Firstly, look at that camouflage! The whole wing shape of the Comma has evolved to look like the shape of a dead leaf; when it closes its wings, all you see are the crinkled brown undersides, a perfect illusion. Even the attractive uppersides are an aesthetically seasonal mix of orange and brown.IMG_0407

GRAMMATICAL BUTTERFLIES?

So why the unusual name? Well, if you look closely in the picture below, you can see a little white mark on the underside of the wings that looks like… a comma. Bizarrely enough, the butterfly has a North American relative called ‘The Question Mark’ that has a white mark that looks a bit like…a question mark! (I challenge you to a cross-curricular link to this preparation for Mr Gove’s SPAG test!)

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Spot the comma…

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And spot the question mark on its North American friend..
(Picture source: Fine Art America)

FLUCTUATING POPULATIONS

The Comma is now quite a frequent sight across Britain, but once the situation was very different. At the turn of the century, numbers started a massive decline; by the 1920s there were only a few colonies left in Hereford and Worcestershire. Happily, things suddenly and inexplicably improved, and this species is one of the few butterfly success stories of recent years.

More info and photos here…http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/species.php?species=c-album

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