AMC Field Guide Series

When winter arrives in the Northeast, the familiar world is transformed. Animals vanish, either migrating or hibernating. Frost forms delicate patterns on your windows. Temperatures drop and days get shorter. These seasonal changes create countless learning opportunities. Teach your children about winter with a few simple science projects. 1) Make instant snow. The concept is…

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In winter, many animals burrow below the frost line to protect themselves from the Northeast’s bitter cold. But the wood frog has adapted a different strategy: It freezes to survive. Wood frogs spend the winter under the snow, just a few inches down in the leaf litter or soil. That’s not deep enough to escape…

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For kids who like nature, science, treasure hunts, and maybe even a little friendly competition, a BioBlitz is an ideal activity, one in which a whole family or even a school can participate. For anyone unfamiliar with the term, a BioBlitz is essentially a 24-hour program to find and identify as many species of plants,…

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So, you and your kids can tell the difference between dog tracks and coyote tracks, and you know bear scat is nothing like deer scat, and that owl pellets aren’t actually the same thing as owl droppings (a common misconception). Next time you’re outdoors with your family, whether it’s in the back woods or just…

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Red foxes are probably native to the AMC region, but we can thank hunters for swelling their numbers. In the late 1700s, settlers brought red foxes from Europe to the Eastern seaboard in order to hunt them, according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The hunters found the native gray fox less interesting…

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For those of us who live in the Northeast, it may seem obvious that many birds migrate to avoid cold winters. But that’s not the case. “It’s not because of the cold,” says Christopher W. Leahy, the Gerard A. Bertrand chair of natural history and field ornithology at Mass Audubon. “Birds are among the best-insulated…

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Join Nicky Pizzo, an AMC senior naturalist and program manager, on a nature walk around AMC’s Cardigan Lodge and up to the summit of Mount Cardigan, in southern New Hampshire. Watch more videos from the Nature Walk series and browse all AMC videos on YouTube.  

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When you see honeybees in a patch of flowers, you might think each found her way there on her own, following the blooms’ scent. But actually worker bees (which are all female) learn about such sites from other bees and fly straight there from their hives, which could be as far as 6 miles away….

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Wildflowers are not only beautiful; they also tell us a lot about where they—and we—live. “If you’re walking through the woods and you see a pretty dramatic change in the plant community,” says AMC staff ecologist Doug Weihrauch, “take a look around and try to figure out why.” Changes in the wildflowers will often reflect…

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In late March or early April, a warm rain will fall and spotted salamanders will emerge from underground in the evening to return to vernal pools to breed. This phenomenon is known as “Big Night,” and it’s a great teaching moment for kids. Here are some suggestions for how to introduce children to Big Night….

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