LEARNING LINKS

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Nature has incredible landscapes, amazing animals and wonder around every bend and turn. There is so much to learn to help us enjoy and protect nature and to better understand how to live in harmony with all of life. The links below will lead you to information and conservation resources that have been carefully chosen for their fascinating facts and information.    

"As long as I live, I'll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I'll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche.
I'll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wildgardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can. " John Muir

 

. . . And root for each other. Smooth leaves and chalky, white bark. Green hillsides transformed into a sea of shimmering golden leaves. Reaching up for that next branch to pull myself farther off the ground. These are things I cherish. The beautiful change of seasons is a reminder for us all to embrace the change in our lives and to not resist the dynamic nature of life.

  

100% Replanted 
Alliance for Community Trees 
Arbor Day Foundation 
Trees, Water, People 
Tree Greetings Colorado 
Tree Coalition 
Sacramento Tree Foundation 

Standing in front of Carlsbad Caverns as a kid, near sunset, I witnessed a few bats winging their way from the entrance of the cave starting out on their nightly foraging for insects. A few more, then more, and then the sky became black as millions of bats headed out to fulfill their important role in eating insects and pollinating fruit. Bats are widely distributed all over the world and are an important participant in the web of life.

Organization for Bat Conservation
California Bat Conservation Fund
Bat Conservation International
Bat Conservation Trust
Bats 4 Kids
Amazing Bat Facts

Big and strong, these furry mammals are beautiful to watch (of course from a distance). See how they sniff and paw and swim and gather their food while the gettin' is good. Bears love berries, well, so do we. What other things do we have in common with bears? Winter will come all too soon with a signal that it is time to hibernate for yet another season. When you look up in the sky at the Big Dipper constellation remember that it is also known as Ursa Major, or the big bear.

   

Great Bear Foundation
Andean Bear Conservation Project
The Wild Animal Sanctuary
Vital Ground Foundation
Alaska Wildlife Alliance 
American Bear Association
Kidzone: Bears

When you look at a beaver dam are you amazed? That small creature built that remarkable structure? As you discover your true nature, you too can build remarkable structures in your life.

National Geographic: Beaver 
Nature Works: Beaver
About Beavers 
Animal Planet: Beaver
American Beaver Facts

The horns wind and curl as they grow bigger and display the true power of this amazing animal. Their horns can weigh up to 30 pounds! When you believe in something, don’t be afraid to speak your mind. Popular opinion might tempt you to give up, but stand strong like the bighorn sheep and fight for what you believe is right.

National Geographic: Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep
Bighorn Sheep Facts
Rocky Mountain National Park: Bighorn Sheep
National Bighorn Sheep Center
Bighorn Institute

  

Imagine what it would be like to see the bison roam the plains as they did so many years ago. I had the joy of camping near the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. I walked the road for some time, and as sunset was nearing and the shadows were long, from my overlook vantage point there were a thousand or more bison grazing in the lush tall green grass. They moved gently as the grass swayed. I could hear their sounds of contentment and I was able to see what it was like when these beautiful creatures roamed the land. I was touched deeply.

Buffalo Field Campaign
Animal Hero: The Buffalo 
Animal Planet: Bison
Canadian Geographic: Bison

The egg hatches into a caterpillar that eats leaves and changes into a chrysalis that hatches into a butterfly that flutters and flies with such beauty.  A truly amazing miracle of nature!   Watching a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis and begin its flight is a  sight to behold!!

Denver Butterfly Pavilion
The Butterfly Site
The Butterfly House
Butterflies and Moths of North America
Butterfly Breeders Fun Facts

Those spiky spines do serve a very important purpose for a cactus: they keep animals away who would love to make a meal out of them.  The spines are actually the leaves of the cactus that have evolved to adapt to the hot temperatures they grow in.  They not only provide protection, but offer shade which lowers the plant's water loss.  One of the cactus' many gifts to the desert is the incredible flowers used to paint its beauty across the rocky and sandy terrain.

    

Saguaro National Park
Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center
Mojave Desert Land Trust
Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan
Sonoran Desert Fact Sheets

The warmth of a campfire under the open sky stirs memories of our earlier days of existence.  The yellow, orange, white and blue colors dance and intertwine with each other inviting us to come, sit, sing and stare as we relax and let our cares fall away.  Enjoy the pleasantries of the fire and remember fire safety by keeping fires to a manageable size and dowsing them completely when leaving or retiring for the night.

Baer Burned Area Emergency Response
Joint Fire Science Program
Nature Conservatory: Global Fire Initiative
Smokey the Bear: Get Your Smokey On

Carved by the steady course and persistence of water, the beauty of the canyon is ever changing and reveals the layers of history to all who take time to sit and gaze into its open expanses.  Canyons can be grand or very small and each shares its earthly wonder with us, inviting us on its slow journey over time.

  

Crow Canyon Archaeological Center
Grand Canyon Association
Cottonwood Canyons Foundation
Black Canyon Land Trust
Grand Canyon Tourist

... and Be a bright spot in others' lives! Stop trying to be like everyone else and just be yourself! Even among cardinals, different species and males and females have very distinct looks. Get a fun haircut, wear that crazy shirt hiding in the back of your closet… be bold! Life is about having fun and setting a good example for others to follow. How will you stand out in a crowd?

All About Birds
What Bird Field Guide
Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy
National Geographic: Cardinal Facts
Beginner's Guide to Bird Watching

 

...and Pounce on possibilities! The strong, flexible body of a cat can react quickly to a situation. Even if something catches you off guard or by surprise, land on your feet. This could be as simple as an attitude change or catching yourself before passing judgment. For cats, this righting reflex is possible due to the combination of an usually flexible backbone and no collarbone. 

  

Project Purr - Nonprofit Cat Rescue
Adopt a Pet
Cats International
Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Organization
American Humane

The water flows and seeps from the inner rivers of the land and, drip... drip... drip... carries with it limestone sediment to make stalactites hang tight from the ceiling and stalagmites growing up over time from the floor.  The cave teems with life and invites us to explore the depths of our true nature.

Cave Conservation Links
Project Underground
Texas Cave Management Association
National Speleological Society: Cave Facts & World Records

How much food can you store in your cheeks? These cute creatures scurrying about can expand their cheeks up to 3 times the size of their head! Whether digging tunnels in their multi-chambered burrows or finding various nuts and berries to bring back and store, chipmunks are ever busy and curious. But remember, don’t feed them in the wild!

National Geographic Animals
Animal Corner
Paws Wildlife

Cliff dwellings are formed using niches or caves in high cliffs. Archaeologists recognize two types: The cliff house which is built on levels in the cliff and the cavate which is dug out using natural recesses or openings. Many of the most famous are in North America in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Chichuahua. The best preserved is Mesa Verde in Colorado which was established around 1190. 

Mesa Verde - Cliff Dwellings
Guided Tours of Cliff Dwellings

Also known as the American jackal or prairie wolf, the coyote lives throughout North and Central America and as far north as Alaska. They evolved during the Pleistocene era, about 1.8 million years ago. Coyotes are typically 30-34” long, about 23-26” high at the shoulder and weigh between 20-46 pounds. Although they sometimes form packs, they primarily hunt in pairs and are able to live among people better than wolves. 

National Geographic - Coyotes
Coyote Fact Sheet
Living with Wildlife

The way deer leap so gracefully, the twitch of their tails, their gentle and steady nature, all help us to appreciate the four-legged mammals and how each is remarkably unique.

  

Key Deer Protection Alliance
Vegan Peace: Deer Facts
National Geographic: White-Tailed Deer Facts

An employee of Your True Nature can't imagine her life without the company of dogs.  "They bring me joy, comfort, inspiration, and an invaluable serenity that I can find nowhere else.  Dogs instinctively know when you are not at your best; I am always amazed at the depth of their sensitivities, and bewildered at the same time; how can they possibly know?  It's worth a little dog hair on the furniture to be blessed with the presence of these incredible beings!"

Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened. – François Anatole Thibault

Dogs Deserve Better
Green People - Humane Societies, Animal Shelters & Pet Adoptions
Dog Friendly
4 Paws for Ability
Random Facts: Dogs

I am not usually such an advocate for things such as swimming with the Dolphins, but an experience two years ago in Mexico changed that. The touristy and commercial aspects were a bit much but the essence of my experience was unforgettable. Swimming, floating, playing with Dolphins, Sea Lions and Manatee helped me appreciate their beauty and absolute ease in the water. I floated face down as two dolphins nudged their noses up against the bottom of my feet. They began pushing me forward very fast as I lifted out of the water and was propelled nearly upright sailing around the large pool. As they slowed I settled back into the water forever changed.

Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society
American Cetacean Society
Dolphin Research Center
Deep Sea Conservation Coalition
Random Facts: Dolphins

Now that’s a unique name... dragon–fly!  With their big eyes and shiny iridescent bodies, they do look rather storybook like.  Names can be somewhat misleading though; it is easy to think we know something just by knowing its name. Would we know much about you if we just knew your name?  Hardly!  It is your uniqueness that really helps us get to know you.

The Nature Conservancy - Hines Emerald Dragonfly
Dragonfly Society of the Americas
Green Nature: Dragonfly Facts
A-Z Animals: Dragonfly

A large and powerful bird of prey that soars high in the sky; with its keen eyesight, it can spot potential prey for quite a long distance.  Watching eagles circle and soar on the thermal uplifts is truly magnificent to watch.

American Bald Eagle 
Bald Eagle Recovery - Q&A
American Eagle Foundation
The Eagle Institute
A-Z Animals: Eagle 
American Bald Eagle Information

Earth is the third planet from the sun with a diameter of 7926 miles at the equator and a circumference of 24,900 miles. If we drive 12,000 miles a year it is approximately the equivalent of driving half way around the earth.  That’s a lot of driving! The planet we call home, with a richness of oceans, land, plants, and mammals woven into a delicate web of life, depends on the health of the whole for balanced existence.

Northwest Earth Institute
Earth Island Institute
The World's Biomes
Explore Earth
Nations Online: Earth Facts

The first time I heard an elk bugle it was powerful.  The call filled the air with excitement and alertness.  These magnificent creatures inhabit the rugged forests and are among the largest in mammals in North America.

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
National Geographic: Elk Facts
Land Between the States: Elk Facts

Also known as lightning bugs, they are not flies or bugs at all!  They are actually beetles.  They use their bioluminescence of yellow, green or pale red to attract their mates.  Watching fireflies above the grassy field on a warm summer night, with their blinking lights, draws us deeper into the wonders and mysteries of nature.

Fireflies in the woods near Nuremberg, Germany, exposure time 30 seconds

Science Frontiers: Synchronous Rhythmic Flashing of Fireflies
Digital Journal: Fireflies
Tree Hugger: Fireflies in Central Colorado
Firefly Organization Facts

Found around the world, they are the preserved remains of animals, plants and other organisms from the ancient past. Most preserved specimens are called fossils if they are more than 10,000 years old. Fossils range in size from microscopic single-cell bacteria to gigantic dinosaurs and trees. Fossils can also consist of marks left behind such as footprints.

Fossil Facts and Finds
A Paleontologist's Guide to Dental Analysis

...and Be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed! There are 37 different species of foxes! Physical characteristics can vary depending on their habitat. For example, fennec foxes in the desert have large ears and short fur, Artic foxes have small ears and thick, insulating fur, and red foxes have an auburn pelt with a white tip on their tail. Foxes have a reputation for being quite cunning and tricky as portrayed in folklore and various other stories. 

7 of the Most Beautiful Fox Species in the World
A-Z Animals

Live Science: Foxes Facts and Pictures

...and Stretch your legs often! Frogs are an amazing species! Here are some interesting facts:

- They may have been around for as many as 265 millions years! 
- They live in many habitats including the tropics, subarctic, and the rainforest. 
- They are tailless, have a stout body, and protruding eyes. 
- Their skin is glandular, in some cases secreting toxins. 
- Frogs lay their eggs in water, which hatch into tadpoles. 
- 120 frog species have become extinct since the 1980s. 
- 1/3 of frog species are considered threatened. 

The best way to help protect these frog species is to ensure their habitat is protected.

Save the Frogs
Amphibian Ark
Frog Watch USA
North American Amphibian Monitoring Program
A-Z Animals: Frogs

…and tomatoes, peppers, raspberries, pumpkins. Then add daisies, poppies, marigolds and on and on. Gardens give us food, beauty and exercise…a lot of positives from a small plot of land. 

American Community Gardening Association
Urban Sprouts
Growing Gardens
How to start a vegetable garden!

The mixture of water and hot molten rock beneath the earth produces the upward momentum to blast a stream of water into the sky. Sometimes it is bubbling to the surface and other times it shoots skyward in its perfect rhythmical timing to dazzle all that are witness to view it. 

The Geysers of Yellowstone: Old Faithful
Geysers and Earth's Plumbing Systems
What Is A Geyser?
Geysers And How They Work

 

Yellowstone National Park
Named because of its regularity, Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone National Park is a cone geyser and shoots between 3,700 and 84,00 gallons of boiling water 106 to 185 feet in the air! The eruption lasts anywhere from 1.5 to 5 minutes and the time between spectacular displays ranges from 45 to 125 minutes.

 

There are nine different species of Giraffe including the Nigerian and Thorncroft's Giraffe and all are found scattered in various parts of Africa. They grow to between 16 and 20 feet in height and have an amazing power of vision. Their hearts pump an average of 20 gallons of blood a minute. They are beautiful, colorful and such a unique animal. They need our awareness and protection. See more at the informative sites below.

Adopt a Giraffe
Bradshaw Foundation
A-Z Animals: Giraffes

...and Smooth the way for others! Slowly grinding across the landscape, glaciers have for millions of years carved the face of the earth. Constantly mobile, they move the soil, break down rocks, create hills and valleys and leave behind rivers and lakes. They are the largest moving objects on earth. 

   

National Snow and Ice Data Center
The Glacier Society

One Geology: Glaciers

Don’t be afraid to get your feet wet! I am here to wade into life and be willing to keep a keen lookout for the many wonderful things life has to offer. The Great Blue Heron with its aerial profile fills the sky with its powerful presence. 

All About Birds: Great Blue Heron
Bird Web: Great Blue Heron
National Geographic: Great Blue Heron
Nature Mapping Animal Facts: Great Blue Heron
USGS: Great Blue Heron
Beginner's Guide to Bird Watching

A grizzly carries great power and strength. Within the patience and calm of waiting for a fish to jump out of the water or in tending to their cub, grizzlies can also run up to 30 mph and vehemently protect their young against a threat! Know when to use these strengths. In us all we possess great strength. What are your greatest strengths? How are they best used? 

Great Bear Foundation 
Andean Bear Conservation Project 
The Wild Animal Sanctuary 
Alaska Wildlife Alliance 
American Bear Association 
Kidzone: Bears 
Trans-border grizzly bear project 

Spread your wings! Always be on the lookout for opportunities you can swoop down on. Looking up in the sky seeing a red tail hawk with the sun shining through the wings gives such a thrill. What would it be like to be able to float in the air and soar through the skies. 

San Diego Zoo: Red Tailed Hawk
Animal Planet: Hawk
The Raptor Trust: Hawk Facts
National Geographic: Red-Tailed Hawk
Friends With Feathers: Hawk Facts

Sip life’s sweet moments! The honey bee . . . so tiny and yet so very important. It’s not the size of your contributions that matter but the fact that you regularly give the best you have to give. 

Honey Bees Disappearing
Why Are Honey Bees Disappearing?
Great Plains Nature Center: Honey Bee
National Geographic: Honey Bee
Honey Bee (Apis Mellifera)
Teaching Kids About the Importance of Honeybees (Thanks for the link suggestion, Lauren!)

 

An employee of Your True Nature describes her experience with two mustangs who were rescued from over-sized herds roaming the hills of Rock Springs, WY.  "Having adopted them as part of our family, these gentle horses have changed my life forever.  Their natural instinct to protect the herd is fascinating to me; I have observed that when one of them is lying down, taking a nap in the sun, the other one always stands guard, not ten feet away.  And it is one of the most beautiful sights in the world to look out my back door and see them galloping full speed around the pasture on a frosty Colorado morning, chasing and playing with each other, warming themselves before breakfast comes."

Colorado Horse Rescue
Equine Advocates
Wild Horse Foundation
Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue

Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center 
Random Facts: Horses

…And keep new ideas bubbling. Care for a dip? Come on in, the water is fine! Hot springs are the result of ground water being heated by extremely hot temperatures from the interior of the earth which bubbles up to the surface at about 105-112 degrees Fahrenheit. Cultures from all around the world have sought out these healing places for thousands of years. Do you have a favorite hot springs? Maybe it’s time for a little adventure to experience what nature has to offer.

National Parks Conservation Association
Renewable Energy World
National Park Service

...and Don't get your feathers ruffled over the little things! That tiny, beautiful bird outside your window, who weighs 1/10 of an ounce and flutters her wings 15-80 times every second, is one of 350 known species of hummingbirds. They prefer warm climates and are the only species who can fly backward. With their long pointed beak and extendible tongue they can get to the nectar deep inside the flowers. Hummingbirds have many predators but are very hard to catch because of their speed and agility. 

The Hummingbird Monitoring Network
The Hummingbird Society
Attracting Hummingbirds
Wild About Wildlife - Hummingbird Feeding
A-Z Animals: Hummingbirds
Beginner's Guide to Bird Watching

...and Be well-rounded! Ladybugs are beetles and there are over 400 varieties in North America. Their appetite for aphids, mealybugs, mites and other tiny pests puts them in the category of insects we like. Did you know ladybugs hibernate? They do when the temperature gets below 55º and can stay in the tree trunks, logs and buildings they choose for up to nine months. After much research, it’s been decided that their spots deter predators. 

Everything About Ladybugs
National Geographic for Kids: Ladybug Facts

There are so many sizes of lakes each with their own character. Starting with a tarn which can be just feet across and less than a foot deep and revealed as the snow melts in the high mountains. Then a pond, which is a manageable thought and which a pebble, on a calm day, will send ripples across. Ah yes, the lake can be large, well very large. Lake Baikal in Russia contains 20% of the world's fresh surface water... more than all five Great Lakes in the US. Think back to your favorite lake. Hear the sounds. Remember the feel of the water. The sights and smells. A lake is a marvelous thing.

 

Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation
Geology.com Largest Lakes
 
Great Lakes Information Network Facts

Have you ever reached out for a metal doorknob only to be shocked?! Lightning works in a similar way. Inside a thundercloud little bits of frozen rain bump into each other, causing an electrical charge. The protons (positive charges) move to the top of the cloud while the electrons (negative charges) move to the bottom. Because opposites attract, a positive charge builds up on the ground below which is focused on things that stick up like telephone poles, trees or even people. When the positive charge coming from the ground meets the negative charge from the cloud… lighting strikes! How do you feel in a lightning storm? It can be exciting, frightening and amazing. Just as in the split second lighting strikes, an idea or inspiration can come to you. Pay attention to this flash of brilliance even if it is a bit scary at first.  

  

How Stuff Works 
National Weather Service Lightning Safety 
National Severe Storms Laboratory 
Weather Wiz Kids 

Lightning Facts and Safety 

Lightning is an amazingly powerful charge of electricity raising the surrounding air temperature by as much as 50,000 degrees and contains over a hundred million electrical volts. It can be up to five miles in length and can occur in volcanic eruptions, forest fires, snowstorms and thunderstorms. 

In the out-of-doors be lightning safe, stay away from tall trees, tall isolated objects and open water. Avoid high, exposed places and metal objects. Squat down if needed. Hike earlier in the day, check weather reports and watch for weather changes.
 

Be dashing! Lizards come in so many fascinating shapes, sizes and color variations. The favorite has to be the Chameleon with its ability to change colors. 

San Diego Zoo Reptiles: Lizard
Types of Lizards
All Lizards Reptile Species
Lizard Facts
Fun Lizard Facts For Kids

...and Dive into life! Often called the “spirit of northern waters”, their strange, lonely calls can often be heard across the lakes and ponds of northeast America and Canada. They prefer quiet seclusion, return to the same breeding ground year after year and mate for life. A symbol of unspoiled wilderness, they are among the oldest living groups of birds, thought to have been here for over 50 million years. 

The Loon Preservation Committee
The Common Loon 

...and Don't be phased by difficulties! The fifth largest moon in the solar system, it is the only natural satellite of earth. The moon has for centuries influenced language, calendars and is celebrated in song and story. The oceans’ tides are created by the gravitational pull of the moon. Because the moon is in a synchronous orbit with the earth, we always see the same side. The last human footprints were made by in 1972 by the astronauts of Apollo 17.

  

Nine Planets: The Moon
The Moon
NASA: Moon & Mars
 
More learning links coming soon!