Nature Notes from Common Ground

Week of January 19, 2021

Chickadee spring song

On some of these slightly milder winter days, we’ve been noticing more noise in the trees. Birds like the black-capped chickadee, who don’t migrate for the winter, are out singing. While many of us recognize the chick-a-dee-dee-dee call, as we move deeper into January, we will start to hear the chickadees’ spring song. The song, which sounds like fee-bee, is sung by the male chickadees as they prepare for the mating season. The song is used to establish territories, signal their social status, and attract mates. The increase in daylight after the winter solstice is one trigger for the males to begin this song, which sounds to some like the chickadees are singing “spring time”! Keep your ears open as you are outside, and see if you can notice as the chickadee song changes more and more the closer we get to spring.

To listen to both of the chickadees’ songs, check out this video.

For a little more information on chickadees and other bird calls, check out this page.


Nature activity of the week

Fire Building

In this week’s video (below), Chris and Tim lead a group of Nature Year students in a fire-building activity. Students engage in sorting materials on a gradient, selecting the best materials for the job, cooperation, and safety discussions. If you’d like to build a fire, check out these instructions from Smokey Bear!


Weekly Video

Fire Building


Hike of the Week

Sleeping Giant Adventure

Each week we share a kid-friendly hike or other outdoor adventure.

For an adventure to Sleeping Giant, click here!



Grant Opportunity

Looking for funding for your school’s garden? Apply for the Gro More Good Grassroots Grant from Scott’s Miracle Gro & Kids Gardening

Thinking about high school for your child?

Come find out about Common Ground: a unique, college-preparatory high school with an environmental justice mission.

  • A Public Charter High School open to students from New Haven & all Connecticut towns

  • More than a school: An inclusive community of 225 students, dedicated to the environment and social justice

  • A challenging, interdisciplinary core curriculum that gets students ready for college and careers, leadership and life

  • Students find their paths through after-school programs, paid green jobs, dual enrollment, internships & unique courses

  • Located on 20-acre campus at the base of West Rock -- a farm, in a forest, in a city

Common Ground High School is hosting an in-person open house on our campus this Saturday, January 23, 2021 • 10 AM - 12 PM

For info, contact Sharyn Lopez, Student Engagement & Out of School Programs Manager, at


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.