World Book Day

Some of the earliest books were about the natural world – illustrations of birds, plants and exotic animals were popular.

They were also important reference works as many scientists couldn’t travel easily. They would rely on detailed drawings and descriptions to make comparisons.

For World Book Day, we’ve picked a few of our favorite book covers and illustrations to celebrate.

Click on any image for more information.
The floral kingdom: its history, sentiment and poetry, by Cordelia Harris Turner, 1876.
The birds of America: from drawings made in the United States and their territories by John James Audubon, 1840
Flora Graeca, sive, Plantarum rariorum historia, quas in provinciis aut insulis Graeciae by John Sibthorp, 1806

The ‘Look About You’ Nature Study Books, Book 4 [of 7] by Thomas Hoare, date unknown.

Zoological sketches by Joseph Wolf, 1861.
The Birds of Australia by Gregory M. Mathews, 1910.
Moths and Butterflies by Mary C. Dickerson, 1901.

Tell Congress: Don’t let EPA weaken the Clean Water Act

By Anna Maria Stebbins, advocacy legal intern at Waterkeeper Alliance. Reposted with permission by Waterkeeper Alliance.

Our waterways are in trouble. A new regulation from the United States Environmental Protection Agency will drastically weaken the Clean Water Act, harming public health, ecosystems, and the economy. The regulation has been branded by the Trump administration as the “Navigable Waters Protection Rule,” but it definitely won’t protect our nation’s water. Instead, it’s a gift to polluters and a grave threat to the rest of us.

 The rule narrows the definition of “waters of the United States,” which are the waters the Clean Water Act authorizes the federal government to protect. The changes to the rule will mean vital protections will be stripped from millions of miles and acres of rivers, streams, lakes, and wetlands.        

Will you contact your Members of Congress today and urge them to oppose this final rule?

This rule threatens our health. Companies and municipalities could dump toxic and radioactive chemicals and sewage directly into newly unprotected waterways with impunity. Unprotected waterways can be dredged and filled, killing wildlife and fish. Worse—waterways are interconnected with each other and pollution flows downstream, meaning that pollution could spread to any connected way, crossing state lines and causing widespread pollution in our drinking water supplies, fisheries, and recreational waters.

This rule will also damage the economy. Clean water is essential to so many industries and people’s livelihoods. For example, fishing industries rely on clean water that is habitable for fish. The housing market could take a hit because clean waters and healthy wetlands prevent dangerous algal blooms and flooding, which devalue property.

This new rule is an unacceptable departure from 50 years of established law and science. It primarily benefits polluting industries such as developers, fossil fuel and mining companies and industrial agriculture, at the expense of our nation’s water quality and public health. This is an obvious example of the Trump administration putting company profits over people’s health and livelihoods!

Please help protect our nation’s water. Contact your Members of Congress today and ask them to utilize their legislative authority to stop this new rule from taking effect.

Photo by Michael Rodock on Unsplash

Draw a watershed

Description of a Watershed: A watershed is a system of how water flows through an area moving sediment, water and dissolved materials into a common point. Think of how a river or creek flows into or out of a lake. The Ogeechee Watershed has many types of ecosystems within it including freshwater from the Piedmont region, to blackwater rivers and swamps in the Coastal Plain region and runs all the way to the Georgia coast.

(Activity is open to all ages and is suitable for homeschool activity for 3-6th graders using Georgia Performance Standards/Standards of Excellence with vocabulary, science and art.)

Materials needed: a piece of paper and any type of drawing or painting tools. Be creative using what you have at home! Draw a river, creek or swamp system flowing into a lake or the ocean in the middle of your paper (see drawing example). On either side of your river/creek/swamp create an environment that you make up (it doesn’t have to be realistic!) It can be a city, small town, the mountains, a fantastical place, something from your favorite movie, etc. Remember to include plants and wildlife. Be creative! 

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Fauna: Odonata

Odonata anisoptera

Odonata zygoptera

Dragonflies and damselflies are closely related insects. Sometimes called ‘mosquito hawks,’ they are aerial predators that feed on insects such as midges and mosquitoes. They don’t have a stinger, but they can bite. None are known to be harmful to humans.

Wings of odonata, dragonflies and damselflies, Manual of Entomology, Maxwell Lefroy, 1923

Dragonflies and damselflies can be distinguished by the shape of the their wings. Anisoperta means “unequal wings” as dragonflies have slightly different pairs of wings. Zygoperta, meaning “equal wings” refers to damselflies. Both sets of wings are the same size and shape.

In the world there are about 5,000 species of odonata, with about 450 in North America. The Ogeechee and Canoochee Rivers are home to a few species, including some uncommon ones.

Sparkling Jewelwing (Calopteryx dimidiata), Santa Rosa County, FL, USA

Sparkling jewelwing
Calopteryx dimidiata

A damselfly (note the aligned wingsets in photo above), it is large and easily found in Georgia and across the southeast. It’s typically found in sandy forest streams, particularly acidic ones like the blackwater Ogeechee and Canoochee rivers.

Blackwater clubtail, Gomphus dilatatus, Big Hammock Natural Area, Tattnall Co., Georgia

Blackwater clubtail
Gomphus dilatatus

This dragonfly is fairly uncommon and only found in the coastal plain regions. They tend to live near slow-moving rivers or streams with sandy or silty bottoms and perch on leaves or branches close to the water. The genus gomphidae is noted for its club-like tail and clear wings. There are fourteen of this genus in Georgia, but are difficult to study due to their rarity and short season.

*click any image for source information

Fauna: Passerina ciris

Painted Bunting by Dan Pancamo

Passerina ciris

The brightly colored bird is a member of the cardinal family and lives in the southeast and south-central United States, including coastal Georgia. Females and immature males are a parrot green color. At about two years old, the male’s feathers turn multiple tones of red, indigo, yellow, and more.

Color engraving by R. Havell, after drawing by John J. Audubon – Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington

They breed in maritime hammocks, scrubland, briar patches, woodland edges and swampy thickets. The females typically lay 3-4 eggs, twice a year. The fledglings take just a couple of weeks to leave the nest after hatching. The population is estimated at about 4.5 million, but that number is decreasing.

Painted Bunting (Female) by Dan Pancamo

The painted bunting was originally described by Carl Linnaeus in his eighteenth-century work Systema Naturae. The Swedish naturalist did a taxonomy of plants in 1753 and followed up with animals in 1758 and 1759.

Cover of Systema Naturae, 10th edition

Painted buntings are territorial and can be seen throughout the Ogeechee River watershed and nearby areas like Harris Neck Wildlife Refuge.

Listen to the call of the Painted bunting.