Nature Notes from Common Ground

Week of December 7, 2020

To migrate or not to migrate?

‘Tis the season for watching large V’s of geese flying south toward their winter grounds. The forests are growing quieter as many songbirds have also left for warmer climes. But the trees are not completely empty. Why is it that some birds migrate and some don’t?

Migration is hard on birds. It takes a lot of energy, involves a long and dangerous journey, and may literally take years off a bird’s life.

So why migrate at all? For many birds, migration is not about temperature, but about food. Lots of birds could survive the cold as long as they had enough to eat. Birds that eat only fruit or insects must migrate, as there is nothing for them to eat here in winter.

But birds that eat seeds can find enough food to survive in the cold. Some birds even change their diets to food that they can find in winter. Others, like bluejays, store food for a continual winter supply. Birds that don’t migrate often join flocks for the winter, and many roost together for additional warmth.

Many birds we see here in spring and summer were originally tropical birds who have slowly expanded their range since the end of the last ice age. They migrate north where the longer days and insect flushes of spring create ideal breeding conditions. So they actually move north for the summer, not south for the winter!

For a fascinating, more in-depth discussion of bird migration, check out this page.


Nature activity of the week

Wild Bird Holiday Decorations

My family and I had fun decorating our house yesterday. No matter what holidays you celebrate, decorating can be fun, and your decorations can even help some of the birds that don’t migrate to survive the winter! Here are some decorations you can make to spruce up your yard or neighborhood AND feed the birds! Wild Bird Holiday Decorations


Hike of the Week

Rocky Neck State Park

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

This week, it's a woodland walk with some coastal rock exploration! Click here to visit Rocky Neck State Park


Weekly Videos

Bee Magic- Honey Extraction



Social & Emotional Learning

In a regular school year, December can be a hard time to keep students focused - the excitement of the start of school has long since worn off, vacation is coming up, many are celebrating or looking forward to holidays, the days are getting cold and dark, and many kids are spending more time indoors. This year, with some students learning in hybrid or remote mode, and some schools changing their instructional setups, may be even more difficult. It seems like a good time to bring our attention to social and emotional learning - to understand where our students are and how to best help them. This article was written back in the summer with an eye toward the beginning of the school year, but it may be just as relevant now, to help students thrive mid-year.

Looking for a gift for the coffee (and tea) lover in your life?

Join the Cafe Rebelde/Common Ground Coffee Club! Pickups are monthly at Common Ground. 5% of your purchase of this Coffee with a purpose will go to Common Ground! Join today and spread the word! Visit
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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.