Pines, Evergreens, Cones, and Needles

Tree Field Guides

This week has been full of nature study….the informal kind that happens as we go about our everyday life. My boys are a big part of the experience and they discover things in our world that I miss. Their eyes seem to be open to so much around them, while my head is full of schedules and tasks that need to be done. I really must make a conscious effort to clear my head more when we are outdoors.

Northern Flicker

First of all, before I get into the pines and cones, I have to share a rare visitor to our backyard. This Northern flicker was up on the tree and Mr. A spotted it and brought it to my attention. Not the first time we have ever had a flicker in the yard but it has been a long time since we observed this interesting bird. They eat bugs and insects from the grass below the tree but they are considered woodpeckers. They also have a red flash on their wings when they fly.

Our focus on cones and needles this week was highlighted by two events.

Douglas Fir with Cone
The first happened last week when we had a huge windstorm with lots of gusts. The wind brought down small branches and cones on the trail where we walk and we were able to get a good look at both. These are not from a pine but a fir tree, Douglas fir. I love what it says in our field guide about the Douglas fir cone. It says, “mouse tail bracts grow between scales”. Sure enough…there they are.

The second event was a walk on our walking trail where we were trying to notice something interesting about pines. Here is a spot on the trail where there are two different pines growing side by side.

Two Pines
Notice the two different colors of needles.

They both have bundles of three and are about the same length. We are pretty sure after much study of our field guides and online sources that one is a Gray pine and the other is a Ponderosa pine. We are going to take our field guide back with us later today and see if we can nail the identification down positively.

What a great week we have had looking for cones and pines! I know that many of you are experiencing cold snowy weather but here in our woods we are enjoying abundant sunshine and no precipitation.

First Daffodil 2011

Guess what I spotted yesterday in my garden? The first daffodil of the year is starting to bloom! Crazy, crazy weather for us too!

Comments

  1. Wow! A daffodil! We might see one of those around here in APRIL! LOL Great Northern Flicker!

    Jessy

  2. Looks like a delightful walk. How exciting to see the Northern Flicker!

    Seeing the burst of color from your daffodil gives me hope that spring is around the corner. It’s sometimes hard to remember it’s only a couple of months until we see some early spring flowers here.

  3. We have been busy trying to identify birds for the Backyard Bird Count. I am not very familiar with many birds, so I was excited to id a female lesser goldfinch and a tufted titmouse.
    Anyway, I was commenting to tell you about our best pinecone study. We placed one in a warm oven and one in a bucket of cold water. Pinecones open to drop seeds in favorable weather, so the pinecone in the oven will open VERY wide. The other will close up super tight. We are learning about evergreens in our CM poetry in the park group http://notyouraveragehomeschoolmom.blogspot.com/2011/01/poetry-in-park.html . Next week we study the cedar tree. Thanks for the blog. We love it!

  4. the first smile of spring, daffadils!!! Now I am reading all the other comments… we must all be starved for color!

  5. I can’t believe you have a daffodil blooming! Lucky you!

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