Help clean up and improve your neighborhood park and get to know your neighbors!
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From the Great Backyard Bird Count website:
The 2011 GBBC will take place Friday, February 18, through Monday, February 21. Please join us!
The Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent. Anyone can participate, from beginning bird watchers to experts. It takes as little as 15 minutes on one day, or you can count for as long as you like each day of the event. It’s free, fun, and easy—and it helps the birds. We’ll be adding updated GBBC materials for the next count as they become available.
Participants count birds anywhere for as little or as long as they wish during the four-day period. They tally the highest number of birds of each species seen together at any one time. To report their counts, they fill out an online checklist at the Great Backyard Bird Count website.
As the count progresses, anyone with Internet access can explore what is being reported from their own towns or anywhere in the United States and Canada. They can also see how this year’s numbers compare with those from previous years. Participants may also send in photographs of the birds they see. A selection of images is posted in the online photo gallery.
Why Count Birds?
Scientists and bird enthusiasts can learn a lot by knowing where the birds are. Bird populations are dynamic; they are constantly in flux. No single scientist or team of scientists could hope to document the complex distribution and movements of so many species in such a short time. Your counts can help us answer many questions about bird populations and their changes.
We need your help. Make sure the birds from your community are well represented in the count. It doesn’t matter whether you report the 5 species coming to your backyard feeder or the 75 species you see during a day’s outing to a wildlife refuge. Kids can help, too! This is a great project for families, Scouts, and school classes.
Have you seen the Water Conservation posters in the student bathrooms at school? These fantastic posters remind us of the value of saving every drop of water. They were created by one of our very own Green Kids, 2nd-grader Madeleine S., for one of her Girl Scout projects, and we are glad for the benefit of her knowledge and commitment to the environment.
Here are few of these fantastic posters. Each poster reminds us to the turn those faucets off completely and shares facts about the importance of every drop of water.
Madeleine teaches us to use a broom instead of a hose to clean dirt off a sidewalk. She reminds us to plant drought-hardy plants that don’t need a lot of water and to only water when the sun is low, not when it’s very hot outside. And she reminds that turning off the faucet while brushing teeth can save several gallons of water each time!
Can you answer Madeleine’s quiz questions about being Water-Wise? Here are a few that she shared.
1. You notice the bathroom faucet is dripping. What should you do?
A. Put a pan under the faucet and use the water to fill your dog’s bowl.
B. Observe the drops. If there aren’t that many, don’t worry about it.
C. Tell your parents so they can get it fixed and do A until then.
Answer: C. Even small drops add up. Thirty drops a minute can add up to more than two gallons of water wasted each day. Leaks are some of the biggest water wasters at home.
2. It’s so hot outside you could probably fry an egg on the sidewalk. What’s the best way to cool off outdoors?
A. Turn on the lawn sprinklers for 30 minutes.
B. Fill up all your water toys-soakers and spray bottles-and invite your friends over.
C. Fill a wading pool and jump in with your friends.
Answer: B. Thirty minutes of sprinkling uses 70 gallons of water. Even a small wading pool takes 100 gallons to fill. But you could get your friends soaked to the skin with soakers for less than ten gallons.
3. You’ve been finger painting all afternoon. You can’t wait to get cleaned up. How should you do it?
A. Take a bath, but fill the tub just halfway.
B. Take a bath and be sure to fill the tub to the brim. You need a lot of water to get rid of all that paint.
C. Take a shower. It uses the least amount of water and you won’t be sitting in paint-filled water.
Answer: A or C. Filling a tub only halfway saves 25 gallons for every bath. Over a year, that’s enough to fill 100,000 glasses of water. A tub filled halfway is plenty of water for getting clean. A short shower uses even less water.
4. You wake up in the middle of the night and hear the sound of the toilet running. What should you do?
A. Go back to sleep and forget about it.
B. Next morning, tell your parents the toilet needs to be fixed.
C. Get out of bed and jiggle the handle.
Answer: C. A toilet that isn’t working correctly can waste 25 gallons of water a day; that’s enough to fill a bathtub halfway. Remember, too, that sometimes toilets have leaks that you can’t hear. Here’s an easy way to test your toilet. Ask an adult to lift the lid of the tank so you can add 10 drops of food coloring to the water. If the water in the toilet bowl changes color, you have a leak.
5. Your older brother takes the longest showers on Earth. What do you think about it?
A. There should be a rule against bathroom hogs.
B. You want to be his age so you can take long showers, too.
C. He needs to get smarter about using water.
Answer: C. Cutting a shower by one minute can save 800 gallons of water a year. If everyone in the U.S. cut showers by a minute, we’d save 160 billion gallons a year. That’s enough to fill 2.6 trillion glasses of water!
6. It’s your job to give your cat fresh water every day. If there’s water left before you refill the bowl, what should you do with it?
A. Pour it down the drain.
B. Water the houseplants with it.
C. Pour it into the trash.
Answer: B. Try to reuse and save water in every way you can. Remember: every drop you save makes a difference.
Random water facts:
75% of the earth is covered in water but only 3% is fresh water. A lot of the planet’s water is locked in glaciers and polar ice caps. Of the rest, half is beneath the Earth’s surface.
Your body is 65% water. Your weight in pounds X .65 = Your water weight.
Taking a bath = 36 gallons of water
Five-minute shower = 25 gallons
Hand-washing dishes = 20 gallons
Running the dishwasher = 15 gallons
Brushing your teeth = 2 gallons if you leave the tap running, ½ gallon if you turn it off
Flushing the toilet = 3-5 gallons
Running the washing machine = 40 gallons
It takes 2900 gallons of water to make one hamburger. That includes all the water needed, from raising the cattle to getting the meat from the cattle to the market to you.
It takes 265 gallons to make on glass of milk. That includes all the water needed, from raising the cow to getting the milk packaged and to you.
Great job, Madeleine. Thank you for all you are to help the environment and for teaching others to be good environmental stewards. I know that I’ll be checking my faucets twice to take care of every drop of water!
The wildflower fence is complete — now we just need the pathway… and the wildflowers! It’s unfortunate that we had a dry autumn — it means that we might only get a few wildflowers this spring. But that’s ok — we’ll keep seeding the area each year until the wildflowers are doing it on their own. It might take a few years, but it will be gorgeous!
Thanks again to USFW for all your hard work in building the fence — and thanks to the RRISD crew who helped get the remaining rails in place. It’s a wonderful perimeter for our future meadow!