August 13, 2008
Ponds provide a beneficial habitat for a number of animals and plants. Ponds are a type of wetland that can be found in a variety of environments: a city park, on a farm, in the middle of grasslands or in the mountains. You can even build one in your backyard! Some ponds exist year-round, while others dry up at the end of spring.
Which types of wildlife live in or near a pond? Frogs, turtles, ducks, fish, snakes, insects, muskrats and beaver call the pond home. Deer, bear and coyotes are among the many animals who visit the pond for a cool drink. Herons fly over the pond hunting for food. Mosquitos that live in the pond provide food for frogs which, in turn, are food for raccoons, herons and snakes. Trees, grasses, reeds and water plants also live in and around the pond.
To sustain life, the habitat of a pond needs the following things:
-Water must be of suitable quality and quantity.
-Different types of food must be available.
-Animals must be able to obtain shelter from predators and the elements.
-There must be enough space for the animals to move around and search for food.
It's important to keep ponds clean for the plans and animals that use them. Clean up trash, pet waste and other pollutants on the land before rain and snowmelt wash them into the pond. Many curb-side storm sewers lead directly to streams and ponds, so never dispose of anything in them. Pollutants in rain water or litter wash into ponds. The water contained in a pond replenishes groundwater. Groundwater is an essential source of water that farmers and cities depend upon. Ponds also help prevent floods by filling up with extra rainwater, diverting it away from roads and structures.
Make a Water Scope
You can make your own water scope to see what's going on under the water-all you need is an aluminum coffee can, plastic wrap and duct tape. Using a can opener, remove both ends of the coffee can. Stretch a piece of heavy-duty plastic wrap over one end and secure it with duct tape (or a large rubber band). Head out to a pond with an adult (wear water shoes or rubber boots to protect your feet) to see what you can find. Lower the end of the coffee can with the plastic wrap into the water and look through the open end. The scope lets you see the water clearly without reflections and ripples.
What's In There?
Now that you have an idea of what lives in a pond, try taking your own samples. Bring a bucket, a net, a magnifying glass and, of course, an adult and your water shoes. Fill the bucket halfway with water from the pond. From the edge of the pond, use your net to carefully scoop the surface of the substrate (top layer of mud or gravel) into your bucket. What types of creatures did you find? Some may be easy to see, while others can be viewed through the magnifying glass. Take notes and draw some pictures, but be sure to return what you find to the pond.
Testing the Waters
Water, like all liquids, has an acidity level. The level of acidity determines how the water will interact with other compounds. Acidic liquids have a pH value below 7. Vinegar and lemon juice are examples of acidic substances. Alkalinity is the state of having pH values above 7. Soap and oil are generally alkaline.
Purchase some pH test paper at an aquarium store or pet store. Collect samples of pond water and tap water in separate containers. Dip a pH paper into them to find the acidity level. Acid water will turn the paper red, while alkaline water will turn it blue. Compare the shade or color of the paper with the indicator on the container of pH paper to find the level of acidity. How does tap water differ from the pond water? How do you think the acidity level affects the animal and plant life in the pond?
Check out Conservationist for Kids for more information and activities!
Upcoming DEC Events
Life in the Water
Saturday, August 16 at 10:00 AM
Enter the amazing world of aquatic insects and other creatures, and learn what they have to tell us about the health of our streams and watersheds. Come ready to get your feet wet!
A Summer Bouquet
Saturday, August 23 at 10:00 AM
Get to know the goldenrods, asters and other wildflowers that bloom in our meadows and the intricate web of life they support, including migrating monarch butterflies.
Thursday, August 14 at 2:00 PM
We'll discover ponds and wetlands and use nets to see what dwells within. We'll also look for frogs, turtles and other pond inhabitants.
Tuesday, August 19 at 7:00 PM
We'll search for these colorful birds as they sing and soar overhead in their courtship flights, and we'll look for other types of wildlife as well. Bring binoculars, although we have some to lend.
Saturday, August 23 at 10:00 AM
Join us on an outdoor survey of our ponds as we take a gander at common ducks and geese.
Tuesday, August 26 at 7:00 PM
Field insects are in full chorus, big enough to be easily seen and caught. We will capture insects with nets, observe and identify and finally release them all.
Central New York
Bug Bonanza (Children's Program)
Saturday, August 16 at 10:00 AM
The warm days of summer are prime time for finding insects and spiders. Kids can make their own bug-collecting container and then catch some creatures for observation with Rogers staff. Please call 607-674-4017 to register.
White-tailed Deer in New York
Saturday, August 23 at 11:00 AM
You see them in fields and find signs of them in the forest. You may even have them munching on plants in your yard. What is the deal with deer in NY? Find out more about deer biology and population status.
Western New York
Advance registration is required. Call 716-683-5959.
Full Moon Sturgeon Walk
Friday, August 15 at 8:00 PM
Enjoy a walk in the woods by the light of the full moon.
Saturday, August 16 at 10:30 AM
Dive into the world of aquatic organisms and see what's living in our ponds! For children ages 6 to 12; parent or guardian must attend.
Thursday, August 21 at 8:30 PM
Learn about the constellations that are visible this month, and view the craters of the moon as it goes into the last quarter. For adults and children age eight and older only.
Ice Cream Social Fundraiser
Saturday, August 23 at 1:00 PM
Enjoy tasty treats and family entertainment as you help support the Friends of Reinstein Nature Preserve. Call for information and ticket prices.
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