Learning Center at Crossroads will be closed on the 3rd and 4th of July this year, but our trails are always open, so perhaps you will want to make a patriot pilgrimage in search of red, white, and blue birds.
Finches, woodpeckers, and hummingbirds are always good for reds. Gulls and pelicans are white, and the white head of an adult Bald Eagle is a special and very possible sighting at Crossroads.
Red birds are red because of pigments or biochromes within their feathers. White birds are white due to the absence of pigments. But blue pigments? Not in birds.
Blue birds appear blue due to an optical illusion. Scientists call this “structural color.” The feathers we see as blue actually are brownish black. Really. For some reason, people find this hard to believe. So whenever I am teaching or leading a nature hike and notice a blue feather, I have people hold it up to the light. Brownish black.
So why do we see blue? It’s all about light. In the case of bird feathers, a thin layer of cells overlays the dark cells of the feather barbs. And these cells are full of little particles. Really little…….. smaller in diameter than the wavelength of red light. This tiny particles cannot affect light at the red end of the spectrum, but they can reflect and scatter the shorter wavelengths which appear blue. So we see blue.
We could get into a pointless debate–if you perceive a feather as blue is it blue or black? Does it matter?
What intrigues me is WHY? Why do birds have conspicuous colors? Red, white and blue are not great camouflage…unless the birds are flying past rows of American flags.
Ornithologists speculate that bright colors have many functions. Conspicuous colors help birds recognize others of the same species. With many bird species, bright colors play a role in the reproductive process–helping females select a worthy mate, for example. It’s true. Colorful feathers seem to make a bird more attractive. (Female birds are so shallow–can you imagine selecting a mate based on appearance?)
Actually, vivid coloration indicate better health and food gathering abilities, so a colorful males really would be a better potential father for a female’s offspring.
So do take a hike this weekend….and watch for red, white and if the light is good, blue birds. Light will be the focus of the program of the Door Peninsula Astronomical Society at 7:00 on July 7. (oh, my 7/7/at 7) President Dave Udell will lead a discussion on the program “Light, the Supreme Informant.” and Gary Henkelmann will present “Breaking News in Astronomy. Visitors are always welcome. The meetings are held at the Astronomy Building, 2020 Utah Street.
Crossroads is a donor supported preserve welcoming learners of all ages to programs in science, history and the environment. The Collins Learning Center, located at 2041 Michigan Street in Sturgeon Bay) is open daily (except this week, the 3rd and 4th) from 1:30-3:30 and during scheduled programs.
Thursday, July 2
10:00 Family Program: Butterflies
Get acquainted with our local butterflies and explore their breeding habitats. Free and open to the public. Meet in the Entry Level of the Collins Learning Center.
1:30 Blacksmiths at Work in the Village
Visit the Granary a watch blacksmiths make tools, housewares, and wroth iron products.
Friday, July 3
CLC reserved for a Wedding; Closed to the public.
Closed the Fourth of July
Monday, July 6
10:00 Family Program : “Amazing Great Lakes Fish”
Enjoy our Great Lakes Exhibit as you learn about the habitats required of fish under the waves. Free for all ages. Meet in the Entry Level of the Collins Learning Center
Tuesday, July 7
10:00 Family Program: Mammals Like Us
Select a Door County animal from the Wildlife Exhibit in the Collins Learning Center. Then join the summer educator on a nature hike to search for your animal’s habitat. Free for all ages. Meet in the Entry Level of the Collins Learning Center.
1:30 History Program: Green General Store, Fish House and Heritage GardenLearn about life in a rural village at the turn of the last century. Meet at the General Store in the Heritage Village.
7;00 July Meeting of the Door Peninsula Astronomical Society
President Dave Udell will lead a discussion on the program “Light, the Supreme Informant.” and Gary Henkelmann will present “Breaking News in Astronomy. Visitors are always welcome and refreshments will be serviceThe meetings are held at the Astronomy Building, 2020 Utah Street (use the Utah Street Entrance and travel Stargazer Trail to the Stonecipher Center.
Wednesday, July 8
10:00 Family Program: Leave No Stone Unturned It is hard to imagine that land we now call Wisconsin once was covered with a warm salt water.Hard to image, that is, until you find a fossil of a sea creature. Meet in the Entry Level of the Collins Learning Center.
1:30 One Room School and First Door County Chapel
Gather with school children ,ages 4-18, in a one room school to learn reading script and ciphering. Meet at the Vignes School in the Heritage Village.