People often think of "biology" as happening out in the forest, in a swamp, in the ocean,
or some other "wild" place. Yet there's biology around us everyday, whether you live in a suburb, a rural community, or
even a big city.
From time to time I get reminded of this when I read an article or part of a textbook that talks
about the biology of people's backyards. I even have a poster up in my classroom that talks
about biology in the suburbs, and one of my favorite episodes of National Geographic (science geek alert!) is called
"The Savage Garden",
starring Leslie Nielsen, which focuses on the biology of...you got it: the backyard.
I decided to put together an enrichment activity
for my students where they could get points for
doing surveys of their own backyards. Some photos, a little research into the biology of the critters they're getting
pictures of, and all of this would get added to a huge bulletin board and card file in our classroom. I thought it would
be good to have a half dozen or so animals already done to get everyone started, so I began surveying my own backyard...and
I got hooked! (science geek alert!) For those folks who don't think there are enough critters to keep a project like that
going, I'm up to over 650 species (538 insects, 52 birds, and 80 misc. other critters) as of January 2011, and the number
continues to grow. If you start looking for them, you'll see most of these creatures in the shrubs, trees, grass, and
flowers of your own backyard as well.
I've created some photo albums to share some of these backyard critters with my students, family,
and friends. The first album shown above takes you to pictures my students have contributed. If you click on the thumbnails
in that album, you can see the full-sized picture that was submitted. The other albums listed above are pics that
I took when I got hooked myself on taking pics around my yard. If you click on the thumbnails in those albums, you will
see a 1600x1200 pixel version, some of which are just ok, but some of which make really cool desktop backgrounds. So,
I cordially invite you to browse the photo albums and find out who some of the critters are in your own backyards -- many
of which you probably pass by every day without even realizing it!