While watching a hawk up close and personal today (from 10 feet away!), I found my self wondering where it lived. This got me thinking about the spaces and places on campus and in my backyard that support all sorts of living creatures. So in honor of these thoughts, here is a trio of books that explores animal habitats.
It's Moving Day!, written by Pamela Hickman and illustrated by Geraldo Valério - This book introduces readers to a variety of woodland animals and a home many share. It begins with a woodchuck who leaves its burrow, only to have it inhabited by a rabbit. After the rabbit raises her young and leaves to find a winter home, a yellow spotted salamander moves in. After the salamander, the burrow is home to a raccoons, milk snakes, chipmunks, skunks, and finally, to bring the story full circle, a woodchuck. The book ends with a page that briefly introduces each of the animals that live in the burrow.
Woodpile, written and illustrated by Peter Parnall - Illustrated in ink, pencil and watercolor, Parnall exposes the nooks and crannies of the woodpile. In it he says, "Most woodpiles are made of wood, if you think of them that way. Mine is the spaces between: the aisles and runways that are a world for many creatures soft and warm. And cold." Readers see the animals that tunnel beneath it (worm and mole), those that live and hide in it (a mouse, a chipmunk, bats, a wasp queen, spiders, and more), and those that hunt around it (weasel, owl, skunk).
One Small Place in a Tree, written by Barbara Brenner and illustrated by Tom Leonard - This one made the NSTA's list of Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K–12 in 2005. 2005. What happens to a tree once a bear sharpens her claws on the trunk? Readers find out as they follow the growth of a microhabitat in the tree as the claw marks cut the bark and begin a hole. Over time the space is inhabited by timber beetles, fungi, and grubs. As more holes form, woodpeckers visit to spear beetles and other insects, making the holes bigger. Soon disease strikes and a large hollow place has formed. It becomes home to a flying squirrel, then bluebirds, and white-footed mice. Other animals use this space too. Finally, the dead tree comes down, but it still serves as a home for other living things.
There are many other terrific books that fit this category, like Brenda Guiberson's book Cactus Hotel, and Wendy Pfeffer's A Log's Life. Now I'm off to see if I can't find some poems to go along with them.