We’re Going on a (Backyard) Safari!

Spring has finally sprung! In New England, that means that nice weather is (hopefully) here to stay and we can all enjoy the great outdoors. It also means that you can observe wildlife galore enjoying the spring sunshine, too. Luckily, our friends over at the Museum of Science, Boston Children’s Museum, and Zoo New England have created some fabulous resources for your family’s flora and fauna explorations.

A great place to start your backyard safari is by listening to the Museum of Science’s Pulsar: A Podcast episode on “Observing Wildlife in Your Backyard.” Biologist Colleen Hitchcock of Brandeis University offers tips and tricks for observing and identifying wildlife that you may see around your house. It is also particularly helpful for observing nature in more urban or highly populated areas, as this episode was originally broadcast as a resource for the City Nature Challenge at the end of April. Be sure to also check out some of their fantastic Family STEM Activities, especially Outdoor Explorers and Ecosystem Exploration, and the Museum’s guides to bird flight pattern identification and butterfly watching for more great activities and ideas for exploring nature in your backyard!

The Boston Children’s Museum also has some wonderful activities designed to get kids outside and in touch with nature. In their Activities Archive, you can find resources for getting creative and going on a National Geographic Neighborhood Safari or Nature Scavenger Hunt. The Museum’s Beyond the Chalkboard educational resource site also includes many great ideas for exploring nature, including how to figure out what wildlife shares your habitat.

Finally, head over to Zoo New England for a wide-array of ideas to connect with nature. Learn how to turn your backyard into a certified wildlife habitat or build a habitat for your favorite animal (if your favorite creature is a butterfly, use their guide to creating a butterfly garden). For the birdwatchers out there, check out the Zoo’s guide to birding in your own backyard, and how to make a bird feeder for your feathered friends. For even more fun, their Kid’s Corner site has lots of awesome nature-inspired activities, including instructions on how to identify trees through touch!

And, of course, we’ve got you covered for all of your bird-watching, butterfly-garden-building, and backyard-exploring reading needs — all free, with your library card, through our Overdrive/Libby and hoopa e-collections:

Pamela Hickman’s Nature All Around series: Trees, Plants, and Bugs

Counting Birds by Heidi E.Y. Stemple

My Book of Birds by Geraldo Valério

The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon by Jaqueline Davies

Monarch Butterfly by Gail Gibbons

Because of an Acorn by Lola M. Schaefer

Spring After Spring: How Rachel Carson Inspired the Environmental Movement by Stephanie Roth Sisson

Can You Hear the Trees Talking? by Peter Wohlleben

Winged Wonders by Meeg Pincus

Common Critters: The Wildlife in Your Neighborhood by Pat Brisson

Get Wild at Home with the New England Aquarium and Zoo New England!

We may not be able to visit our favorite furry, feathery, or fishy creatures, but the amazing folks at the New England Aquarium and Zoo New England have found some creative ways to bring a little bit of wild into our homes. 

Bonnethead Shark at New England Aquarium

The Aquarium’s Virtual Visit page features daily presentations starring southern rockhopper penguins, harbor seals, bonnethead sharks, and more! A particular highlight is Reggae the Harbor Seal’s tooth brushing routine. The Aquarium has also curated a list of fun at-home activities and educational resources, from making a 3D turtle shell out of items at home to a tide pool aerobics class.

Zebra at Franklin Park Zoo in Boston

Zoo New England is bringing the #ZooToYou through daily videos and activities on their Facebook pages, letting viewers check in on all of their favorite animals at the Stone Zoo and Franklin Park Zoo. They also have a great kid’s activity and resource page on their website, featuring word searches, coloring pages, instructions on how to make a butterfly garden and compost, printable animal masks, and much more.

Be sure to also explore our digital collections for more resources about these animals and the natural world. hoopla has an extensive selection of National Geographic nature documentaries, running the gamut from wild pandas and tigers to killer whales and emperor penguins. And for our Libby app users, check out Sy Montgomery’s The Soul of an Octopus, a New York Times bestseller and finalist for the National Book Award for Nonfiction featuring the octopi of the New England Aquarium!