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Green maps for your neighborhood

How do squirrels find their way around your neighborhood?

How about birds?

Do they use maps? If birds fly a thousand miles when they migrate from California to South America, do they use a map?

Some scientiest believe that birds and other migratory animals use an internal "map", some way of navigating so that they can come back to the exact neighborhood and even the exact same backyard, year after year.

The purple martin is one such bird. These expert navigators return to the home in which they were born and raised. If that house is full, they search nearby areas for another home.

How are your navigation skills? Can you find your way around your neighborhood? Do you know the major landmarks? The names of streets?

If you create a map of your neighborhood on a poster board, you'll have a plan so you can go explore and find all the wonderful habitat in your neighborhood. And once you find the habitat, you'll also run into little critters -- birds, insects, squirrels, maybe even some rabbits and mice and skinks. You can put stickers or drawings on your map to show where you find all these different members of your neighborhood.

Special members of your habitat are important to include on your map, too. Trees can have great character -- every tree is different. Some have seeds. Some have nuts. Some don't seem to have any kind of seed, but if you watch carefully, you'll discover how they reproduce. You might be surprised how much a tree changes and how it behaves, if you watch that tree all year round in all four seasons.

And little wildflowers are special neighbors. And moss. And even watering holes where insects and birds visit to get their water for the day. If you find that birds have to drink out of dirty puddles on the street, you might think of ways you can provide them with good clean water so they stay healthy.

Making a map of your neighborhood can be as exciting as taking a safari. It's your own hunt for the mysteries hiding right under your toes! Each time you take a naturewalk in your neighborhood, you can add more interesting things to your big map. Pretty soon, you'll have a fascinating story board you can share with your family and friends.

They you can take them on a tour using your map...and you will all discover secrets just waiting for your observant mind!

The Green Map System has examples of map projects and some samples of neighborhood "green maps". They have projects from all over the world!

For more articles about NATURE & KIDS

Young Birders Get Serious About Birding Fun
The Squirrel Family 0 Backyard Nature Safari
Hamsters are rodents and cuddly pets
Kids Learning Links
Buddy's Diner (for the birds)
Bird Profiles for Young Naturalists