My Sycamore Canyon

Science Chats: Riverside Coyotes

We had our second Science Chat on Friday February 17 at the center!  This time we were joined by the Mary S. Roberts Pet Adoption Center for an informative night all about the Riverside Coyotes.

Many residents have concerns over the coyotes and have expressed their concern to their council member.  The Ameal Moore Nature Center was approached and asked to speak about the coyotes, providing information and safety tips to the public.  The nature center loves educating people and partnering with other organizations to do so, and the Mary S. Roberts Pet Adoption Center was eager to help!  Together, staff from both organizations talked about coyotes, their habits, and safety.  After, the floor was opened for a Q&A session where chat attendees could air their concerns and have their questions answered by professionals in attendance.

In case you missed the chat, but would still like information on coyotes, you visit our informational page on coyotes HERE, or you can visit the Mary S. Roberts Pet Adoption Center online HERE.


Second Saturdays: Do That Birdie Boogie

This Second Saturdays we got down with our bird selves and danced like birds!  Birds don’t just sing- they dance too!  Bird courtship displays can be simple or very complicated.  But either way, they certainly know their way around the dance floor!

Visitors were lead in seven different bird courtship dances by our special guest dinosaur Tiana Rex!  If you’re wondering why a dinosaur was at a bird event, dinosaurs are the ancestors of the modern bird!  Our dino guest was thrilled to join us and teach us a few bird moves!

If you’re interested in learning how to dance like a bird, here’s a list of our dances and some simple instructions to go along with them!

Bird: The Blue-footed Booby (Blue-footed Boobys have bright blue feet!  The birds keep their feet nice and bright by eating a lot of food.  Future parents want their mates to be good at catching food to feed their babies, so the bright feet are very important because they’re a sign of good survival skills!)
Dance steps: Slowly pick up your right foot, leg straight.  Put it down and switch feet.  Repeat!

Bird: The Sandhill Crane (Sandhill Cranes may look graceful, but when they perform courtship dances they tend to thrash around!)
Dance Steps: Jump as high as you can and flap your arms! Randomly run around with your arms out and bob your head.  Repeat!

Bird: The Red-capped Manakin (These birds are the smooooooth dancers of the bird world!  They kind of look like they’re doing the moonwalk!  They move much faster than humans or T-rexes can.  By scooting their feet back and footh on branches extremely fast, they look like they’re sliding!)
Dance Steps: Turn to your side and stick out your bum!  Shift your weight from foot to foot and move backwards while doing that.  Here’s a tip: Start out slowly, then speed up!

Bird: Andean Flamingos (These pretty in pink birds dance in flocks.  It looks really simple, but they have to be coordinated enough not to bump into each other while tightly packed together- they dance with their heads held high in the air!)
Dance steps: Stand up straight with your head held high!  Take tiny steps in your own tiny circle.  Flick your head to look to the left, then look right, then left, then right.  Here’s a tip: Practice separately before you try doing it in a group.

Bird: The Superb Bird-of-Paradise (These birds have the looks and the moves!  They have big colorful feathers and they dance to show them off.  The Superb Bird-of-Paradise raises its long feathers around its neck to make a wide, black backdrop for him.  His blue eyes and throat feathers stand out against the black. He’ll hop around the female, making clicking sounds to impress her.
Dance steps: Pick a partner to dance around.  Hold out your arms and pretend that they’re long neck feathers.  Jump up and down, clicking your tongue every time you land!  Move side to side as you hop around your partner.

Bird: Western and Clark’s Grebes (These two birds are similar to each other and have the same courtship dance.  They line up side by side on a lake and paddle their feet so fast that they actually run on top of the water!
Dance steps: Line up pairs, stand up tall, and hold your arms out behind you. Hold that pose and run!

Bird: The Magnificent Riflebird (Rifelbirds hold their black wings out to show off their flight feathers, that look like really wide fans.  They move their heads back and forth behind their wings to highlight their brightly-colored neck feathers!)
Dance steps: Make a circle with your arms above your head and bounce with your knees a little to the count of 1-2-3-4.  Hide your head behind one arm for 2 counts, then switch it and hide it behind your other arm for the remaining 2 counts.  Repeat!


Volunteers to the rescue!

On Saturday February 4 the students of Val Verde High School came by the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park to volunteer their time!  The Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park is a wonderful resource that we have within the Riverside City limits that everyone is free to enjoy 7 days a week!  Unfortunately, some people misuse the park, painting graffiti and littering.  Our natural spaces are valuable and will only continue to be beautiful places for everyone to enjoy if we all do our part and maintain them.

The students of Val Verde High School came in today with a few of their teachers to help keep the park beautiful.  Graffiti abatement and trash pick up were the goals of the day.  The park and nature center are grateful to the efforts and hard work of the students and their teachers!

Thank you to the students and to everyone else who their part in helping us keep the park beautiful!

Science Chats: Zika! Everything you wanted to know (but were too afraid to ask).

This past Friday we hosted our first Science Chat guest of the year, Bill Van Dyke, the Public Information and Technology Officer from the Northwest Mosquito and Vector Control District.  Bill and other district employees dedicate their energies to educating the public, targeting mosquito breeding grounds, and researching better ways to control mosquito carried diseases.

Did you know that mosquitoes can still breed in the winter?  We didn’t!  Last night we learned that mosquitoes only need a little bit of water to thrive, and places like flower pot overflow plates, watering cans, kiddy pools, and other water collection areas can harbor them. If you have even a small amount of standing water (as small as a bottle cap), it’s always a good idea to tip it over!  Mosquito larvae need calm, still waters to grow in, so be aware of any pooling water on your property like:

  • flower pot over flow plates
  • watering cans
  • forgotten pet dishes
  • swimming pools
  • spare tires
  • trashcans

Mosquito carried viruses can be scary to think about, but Bill and the other district employees are dedicated to helping!  For questions, concerns, or outreach, visit either their Facebook or their website.

Science Chats are engaging , free, show-and-tell evening lectures for adult* visitors designed to answer questions and inform about topics relevant to Riverside life.
*Topics are unsuitable for small children and there will be no children’s activities provided. Topics suitable for ages 16+. Please leave the little ones at home for this one!

Science Chats happen on select Friday evenings.  Be on the look out for more topics and speakers!  Check our our events page for topics and speakers as they become available.

Our thanks to Bill and the other Northwest Mosquito and Vector Control District employees for their hard work and dedication!

What’s Bugging California?

The Ameal Moore Nature Center loves partnering with outside organizations!  This past weekend we teamed up with UC Riverside’s Director of Invasive Species Research, Dr. Mark Hoddle!

An invasive species is a plant, animal, or fungus that is introduced to an area.  Once introduced, it out competes native species (species originally from that area) for survival, causing native species populations to dwindle.  Sometimes these species directly attack native ones by eating them, and sometimes they cause death by carrying disease.  If the invasive species has no predators in the area, their populations will increase unchecked and ultimately wipe out the food source and cause the native species in the area to die off.

For Riverside, the Citrus Psyllid is an invasive ‘bad bug’ that could take down the citrus industry!  This bad bug has cost billions of dollars in damage to Florida’s orange industry already. We don’t want that here!

The question of how to deal with invasive species has been approached in many ways.  Some of these ways are as simple as pulling up the species if it’s a plant.  But for small invasive species, such as tiny insects, eliminating each insect one at a time is both difficult and impossible.  Other methods include harsh pesticides, which can be harmful to other native species, humans, and pets.  Dr. Hoddle spoke to visitors about a better option: biological control (or biocontrol). Biological control involves finding and introducing the natural predator of the invasive species.

Dr. Hoddle and the Invasive Species Research Department focus use biological control to solve invasive species problems.  Dr. Hoddle and his team have worked in countries all over the world searching for the natural predators of invasive species that will help us lesson their impact safely.  Today, scientists like Dr. Hoddle keep specimens in quarantine and do years of research before releasing them to ensure that any introduced predators won’t cause damage to their new environment.

Dr. Hoddle brought videos, pictures, and specimens of the various species he works to eliminate.  Riverside’s citrus industry has a good fighting chance thanks to the efforts of Dr. Hoddle, his team, and other scientists like him!

Second Saturdays: Skunks!

This past Second Saturdays we talked about our smelly friends skunks!  Though they have a stinky reputation, skunks are fascinating creatures and important parts of our ecosystem!  Visitors learned about skunk diets, coloration, and of course, defense mechanisms!

By the end of the day, we had lots of skunks running around the center!  Luckily, they were only visitors in the skunk masks they’d made (phew!).  If you missed this event, don’t worry!  Another Second Saturday will be on the way next month!  Check out or Events page for details.

Second Saturdays: Pinecones!

This past Second Saturdays the nature center got twiggy with it as we celebrated pinecones!  Pinecones are fun centerpieces that we all love to have during the winter season, but they’re also an important part of conifer reproduction!  Visitors to the center learned the difference between male and female pinecones- yup, that’s right!  Pinecones come in male and female.  Male pinecones hold pollen and female pinecones hold the seeds.  We also discussed shape, size, and how edible they are!

Pinecone  wind chimes were the craft of the day and visitors got to take home their festive creations!

If you missed this past event, don’t worry!  There’s plenty more coming up.  Every 2nd Saturday of the month the nature center hosts the Second Saturdays program.  Check out our EVENTS page for future events.

Snakes: Mystery and Intrigue

The Ameal Moore Nature Center staff and visitors were in for a real treat!  Dr. William K. Hayes with Loma Linda University joined us on a special event day to talk about snakes!  Dr. Hayes works with snakes at the university and brought a few of them with him for a special talk and show and tell!

Snakes are creatures that many people are afraid of.  Many of our visitors have misconceptions and misinformation about snakes, believing them to be slimy, scary, and even blood thirsty.  In reality, snakes are not slimy, scary, or thirsty for human blood at all!  It’s important to remember that they do have teeth and can be dangerous if provoked but that they are also an important part of our environment.  Without them, the balance of our area would be thrown off!  Dr. Hayes and many other educators and scientists like him work very hard to help people understand how to live in peace and have fun with snakes while still being safe.  The nature center encourages education about our cold blooded friends and is always pleased when fears are alleviated, but would like to remind all of its visitors to please never pick up a snake in the park- they’re protected!

The nature center was thrilled to have him join us and is looking forward to future events!

If you missed this fun and informative event, don’t worry!  We’re gearing up for the new year with lots of new guest speakers and events!  You can check our events page for all upcoming programs.

The Ameal Moore Nature Center and its staff would like to say a very big thank you to Dr. Hayes for coming out and speaking with our visitors!  We had a lot of fun!

Fungi Fun!

The Ameal Moore Nature Center hosted UCR Graduate students Derreck and Sören as they talked to us about fungi!  Fungi is great and amazing- who knew???  They’re not just delicious and nutritious!  They’re also used for medicines, other species rely on them for survival, and they decompose rotting matter!  Overall, they have an intricate role in our ecosystems!

Visitors listened to a brief talk before they got to look through microscopes and tie-dye mushrooms with food coloring!

If you’d like to tie-dye your own mushrooms, just put drops of food coloring on clean mushrooms, spray them with water and viola!!! Beautiful mushrooms for a beautiful omelet!


Second Saturdays: Gray Fox

What does the fox say?  Well, nothing, really.  But we had a lot to say about him this past Second Saturdays event!  Visitors were welcomed into the center and heard all about our fantastic Mr. Gray Fox!  The activity of the day were adorable fox ears.

If you missed this fun event, don’t worry!  The nature center does Second Saturday events every second Saturday of the month.  Check out our events page for more information and dates!