Hang in there! We are moving our blog over to it's new home.
By: Sama Wareh
I have received numerous texts and emails asking where good places to go hike are and where you can still park in a parking lot. I thought it was time to take a moment to share what I know so that you can still get outside with your family. I am working on developing a scavenger hunt at some of these sites that you and your family can partake in. It should be ready in a few weeks and if you are on our mailing list, you will get an email with more details.
Before I share these trails with you I want you to know that I still believe everyone should get some fresh air, go outside and interact with nature. I can still see the risk of overcrowded trails and beaches and agree with the county in closing many of these places, however I do feel that if you are being cautious and wise as far as timings go, are avoiding crowded trails, and are not going in large groups, your risks go down. In other words, stay off the trails on the weekends and afternoons. Kids are all off their Zoom meetings in the afternoons and dying to get outside so the trails are packed.
Here are precautions that you should take while out on the trails:
1. Keep 6 feet away from others.
2. If the trail gets tight and you see another person coming, step off the trail if it is safe to do so and turn your face away from them. Let them pass. Then keep going.
3. Avoid crowded times (Afternoons and Weekends)
4. Sanitize your hands as soon as you get back into your car (or sooner if you are carrying hand-sanitizer in your backpack)
5. Do not leave exposed hand-sanitizer or rubbing alcohol in the backseat of your car while hiking or your car may be broken into.
6. That last one was a joke.
5 RECOMMENDED TRAILS
(always check online first for updated closures, as things are changing fast during these times)
1. Quail Hill Loop Trail in Irvine 1.8 mile LOOP- Easy
2. San Joaquin Marsh - Irvine- Easy
3. Bolsa Chica Wetlands - Huntington Beach- Easy
4. Shady Canyon Trail - Irvine
5. Top of the World Trail, Laguna Beach
And if you all have BIKES! Go bike riding!
May you all stay safe and healthy during this time and use the time as a chance to reconnect with Nature.
Many birds are known for their beautiful musical chirping, and humans can even use these distinct sounds to identify a specific bird species. There is one such bird which makes exquisite music but is also very dangerous. This bird is known as the European Starling. Starlings have black plumage and a gorgeous metallic sheen.They were first introduced to America in large numbers by a man named Eugene Schieffelin who was inspired to bring these birds to America because he was so impressed by William Shakespeare’s work. He wanted to release every single bird Shakespeare mentioned in his plays and poems to the United States. In 1890 Schieffelin released 60 European Starlings into Central Park in New York. He released 40 more in 1891. Once the birds were brought over they began multiplying and now there are over 200 million Starlings in the United States alone.
Although these birds are magnificent to look at, they are not as nice as they look. Starlings are notorious for kicking out other birds’ eggs and laying their own in the same nest. When male starlings encounter another birds nest, they might peck holes in the eggs, throw out nesting material, throw out an egg from the nest or even kill young birds. Female starlings are even known to lay their own eggs in another birds nest.
Starlings can cause damage and are one type of bird that acts as a pest.
A fungus called Histoplasma can grow beneath roosting starlings and can become airborne which can cause blindness or death. Starlings also cause millions of dollars in damage yearly. Starlings can devastate the crops of American farmers and can transmit diseases to humans and animals.
They cause problems at livestock facilities by contaminating feed and water with their droppings.
Starlings can even cause physical harm to humans. Starlings roost near airports and can get ingested into jet engines which can then cause the aircraft to crash. Starlings can consume whole fields of wheat and cultivating fruits such as grapes, peaches, blueberries, strawberries, figs and cherries.
People soon realized these birds are pests and in Connecticut people tied teddy bears to trees and fired rockets through tree branches to scare them away. The White House tried using speakers that played owl calls, people tried shooting, poisoning, repelling, trapping and frightening the birds but all to no avail.
As you can see, birds that were brought to America with good intentions presented unintended problems even Shakespeare would not appreciate. As with anything in life, there is no such thing as too much of a good thing. These avian beauties were not all they seemed. Despite efforts to curb their numbers Starlings are survivors and that is why there numbers are so large today.
By: Aiza Qureshi Age 11
Why do Western Fence Lizards do push-ups?
Western Fence Lizards - Sceloporus occidentali
To mark dusk and dawn or to show physical condition.
Hamza Sidky Age 11 Video: Sama Wareh
Stinging nettle is a yummy wild edible plant. Have you ever tried it? If you like edamame, then you should try this plant. It taste like edamame. You only eat the leaf though, and I will tell you how to eat it right now.
Stinging nettle has little hairs, some are stinging hairs, and some are non-stinging hairs that appear mostly on the stem and top part of the leaf. To eat the leaf, you pick it by pinching the bottom of the leaf and folding it into a taco shape. Then, you fold the leaf into a little packet and put it in your mouth. Your saliva breaks down the hairs so it doesn’t sting you when you chew it. And that’s how you eat stinging nettle. Now that you know how to eat it, here are some things you can learn about stinging nettle.
Stinging nettle is found in riparian habitats. A riparian habitat is an area next to water. Stinging nettle grows 3-7 ft tall, and the leaves are usually between 1-5 inches long. It has small greenish flowers that are really pretty, and jagged edges that look like teeth. Now, I hope you learned something about stinging nettle today, and I hope you will come back for more!
By: Asiya Rizvi Age 12
Photo: Sama Wareh
I know you must be wondering why I am talking about bearded dragons, of all things to talk about. Well, I think Bearded Dragons are super cool. Did you know that an average Bearded Dragon grows 16 to 22 inches in length?! And their tails are HALF the size of their body?? Pretty cool, right? Now, how much do you like Bearded Dragons? Well if you like them now you’re going to like them a lot more by the time this article is done. Well, I bet you didn’t know that they are able to enlarge their throats and flatten their body when being threatened or attacked. They can also live up to 10 years and usually reach maturity between 8 to 12 months of age.
Now, how much do you like Bearded Dragons? Did you know that Bearded dragons are omnivores? Which means that it has both a plant and animal based diet. It will usually eat insects, small rodents, lizards, and leafy plants. Oh, and you would probably like to know where they are native to as well. I’ll tell you right now, Bearded Dragons are native to…….. drum roll please… AUSTRALIA. Ta-da! Well, that’s all I got for you right now, see ya soon.
p.s. I’ve heard that they make great pets!!
By: Sumaya Zayed Age 11
Cathartes aura is a really amazing animal.
Should I tell you why?
It is a Turkey Vulture. You might be wondering what does this name have to do with the Turkey Vulture? Well, Cathartes aura is its scientific name! They also have a redhead which is barely to be seen, so don’t worry if you can’t spot it. Also, the Turkey Vulture defends itself by vomiting. Their wingspan is around 6 feet and they are native to North America. Do you know why these birds are bald? This is so that bits of carrion (dead meat) do not adhere to the skin as they would to feathers. The Turkey Vultures do not kill, they only try to find dead food. It’s like the eagle does the job, and the Turkey Vulture gets the meal. Did I forget to tell you that they do not nest, they lay their eggs on the ground directly! They live up to 20 years old. People sometimes make a mistake and say that the Turkey Vulture is called a buzzard but they are not.
Have a good time with the turkeys!
By: Ali Helmy Age 11
Art and Photo by: Sama Wareh
Have you ever heard of a Black Phoebe? Have you ever seen one? Well, in case you haven’t Black Phoebes are insectivores, flycatchers. Their colors are black and white. Their stomachs are white, while the rest of their body is black. Black Phoebes make their nests on walls, overhangs, cliffs, and even bridges! They build cup shaped nests. Often, they sit on low branches or posts, because they like to fly to another low perch, so that then on the way back they can catch insects to give to their young.
I hope you learned about Black Phoebes from this article and if you want to learn more about birds, animals, and plants, you have to wait for another article.
By: Ilyas Rizvi Age 10
Photo by: Sama Wareh
The Art & Wilderness Institute Journalism Team are individuals who appreciate the world we live in and love to explore the myriad connections of all things in the world around us. We love to highlight the beautiful things we see in nature and to help others find ways to live with more connections to the outdoor world and the way it benefits us all.