Nature Notes from Common Ground

Week of May 17, 2021

Oriole Nests

A vibrant flash of orange caught environmental educator Chris’ eye as he and some kids searched for crawfish in the West River. Overhead, a Baltimore oriole was keeping an eye on us as well as on her nest nearby. Baltimore orioles have migrated north to mate and nest. Females will select their mate, and then begin building a nest site within their mate’s territory. They often choose a site towards the end of an outer tree branch to be safe from predators.
The oriole that Chris saw built her nest in a tree branch hanging out above the West River, which will provide plenty of insects for food. Female orioles take about a week or two to build their nests. The nest begins as a seemingly random tangle of fibers (both natural and synthetic), but over time takes on a gourd-like shape with an opening on top. This provides a safe, hidden cavity inside to protect both the nesting adults and the hatchlings!


Nature activity of the week

Leaf and Flower Prints

Plants provided some of the earliest dyes, and using plants to create art is a fantastic way to engage kids in hunting for materials and creating art - all in one project!

Click here from instructions from our friends at kidsgardening.


Weekly Video

Baby goats


Hike of the Week

Orenaug Park

Each week we share a family-friendly hike or outdoor adventure. Click here for a visit to Orenaug Park!



Did you know that farmers in Connecticut grow kelp? Just recently, we celebrated the spring sugar kelp harvest - our region's most sustainable crop! Click here to learn about Kelp Harvest Week, and check out the video below for a virtual field trip!

New England Kelp Harvest Week - Virtual Field Trip


About this series

Our programs for children at Common Ground are place based, hands on, and focus on community, friendship, and nature-based learning and play.

In this time of virtual learning and social distancing, we seek to support teachers and families in getting outside in safe and healthy ways. We hope this series provides content and activities to help your students or your family engage in nature-based learning, whether you are learning in person or virtually.

Some of the funding we rely on to keep Nature Notes free comes from the Robert F. Schumann Foundation and The Claire C. Bennitt Watershed Fund, established by the South Central CT Regional Water Authority.