Family Scavenger Hunt in Baldwin Park
These are suggested answers. If you find other answers, please take a photo and send it to me at email@example.com. I LOVE to find new things in the Park!
1. A bird's nest.
There is at least one bird's nest, and that is in the southwest corner of the Park in the crabapple tree, almost overhanging the sidewalk. It is occupied by a mourning dove. The mom and dad doves stay together for life, and often return to the same nest every year. This nest has been here for at least three years. Both mom and dad help out keeping the eggs warm until they hatch. There are usually two eggs at a time (twins!), and the doves can have up to six sets of babies per year. The mom and dad eat seeds, but they feed the babies a liquid that comes from their stomachs (secretions from the crop, sometimes called pigeon's milk). Yummmm!
Mourning dove in the crabapple in the southwest part of the Park.
Is this Mom or Dad? Who knows!
2. very sharp thorns protecting a tree.
There are two thornless hawthorns in the Park, but there are some thorns on the tree in the southwest corner. Trees can't run away when an animal is trying to eat their leaves or bark, so thorns help protect it. See more on hawthorns, including the five new ones on the 19th Street sidewalk, here. The 19th Street trees are Washington hawthorns, and as you can see, definitely have thorns.
Hawthorn in the southwest part of the Park. Be careful!
3. four different types of seed pods.
There are lots of possible answers, since there are lots of different trees with different strategies for spreading their seeds. See links here for seedpods and here for cones in the Park.
See bottom of page here to match seedpods to tree types.
4. two different types of trees with purple-red, not green, leaves.
There are three species of trees with reddish leaves: the purple leaf plum, the copper beech, and some of the redbuds. For an explanation why most leaves are green and red leaves are rare, see here.
Copper beech in the west part of the Park. Get a close look at those deep-red leaves!
5. a "face" in the upright rocks.
There may be more than one answer for this, depending on your imagination. If you find one that is different than my "face," please take a photo and send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you see a face? Can you find any other faces?
6. two plaques describing the art that is Baldwin Park and the artist Athena Tacha.
Back in 1992, artist Athena Tacha created the landscaped park then known as Franklin Town Park, the entire Park being a work of art titled Connections. The Park's name was changed to Matthias Baldwin Park in 2011. There is a pink granite plaque under the contorted filbert tree in the southeast corner of the Park, and another embedded in the planting bed wall on the west end of the raised landscaping bed. For more history of the Park see here.
7. lichen on rocks and trees.
There is a lot of lichen in the Park. You can think of lichen as a combination of a tiny plant and a tiny mushroom working together to stay alive. The mushroom, or fungus part, helps the duo stick to the surface of the rock or tree bark. The tiny plant, or algae, uses the energy from the sun and the carbon dioxide in the air to make food for the duo. What a team! For more on lichens, see here.
Different types of lichen on the upright rock in the west section of the raised beds. Check out the other rocks (without stepping into the raised beds, of course!).
8. a boy cone and a girl cone on a tree.
The male and female cones appear at different times on some trees, but the red pine and the pitch pines usually have both in the Spring. The male cone makes pollen; the female cone forms the seeds.
Red male cones in clusters on the left and a larger old female cone on the right in mid-April on the red pine in the south section of the Park
9. a sign asking visitors to keep off the stone walls and out of the planting beds.
Why do we ask that people and dogs stay out of the planting beds and off the walls?
This is a piece of art! Would you draw a mustache on the Mona Lisa? Climb on Michelangelo's statue of David? Of course not! Needless to say, graffiti on the stones is not art, it's vandalism, even with chalk. Athena's art needs no help to be beautiful!
Plants are alive and suffer when people step on them. The Friends of Matthias Baldwin Park spent $6,000 last August to replace plants that had died. You love plants, right?
The wall stones are mostly not mortared in place, as the artist intended. Stepping or sitting on the stones in the wall loosens them and makes them fall out. The Friends spent a weekend gluing down loosened stones in May of 2020.
If someone sees you climbing in the beds or on the walls, they may think it's OK to do it too. And it's not.
Don't tell anyone this, but there are rat traps in the raised beds. There is poison in those traps, and sometimes the rats pull the poison pouches out, rip them apart, and spill the poison in the beds. The smaller the person or dog, the more susceptible they are to the poison.
The small pebbles and stones in the landscaping beds are meant to stay there. When children throw the stones onto the paths, they are a tripping hazard for some of our older Park visitors. Worse, when the stones get into the grass, they are potential missiles when the grounds crew mow the lawn.
The signs in the Park are too small to put all these reasons on, so just trust us! Obey the signs please.
Artist Athena Tacha still visits her art treasure and she appreciates people keeping out of the planting beds and off the walls.
10. a flying insect drinking some delicious flower juice while it helps the flower have babies.
Bees and other flying insects drink the juice, or nectar, in the flowers. The pollen on the flower is then spread on the bee's body and carried by the bee to another flower that needs the pollen to make seeds (plant babies). Watch the bees, especially this time of year in the blue catmint in the eastern part of the Park, and count how many flowers the bee visits in just two minutes. They are busy as bees!
Seven-second video: Busy as a bee in the catmint!
Those are individual flowers on stalks. I counted visits to four flowers in seven seconds.
11. a tree stump, or two, or if you are really eagle-eyed, three.
All living things, including trees, will die. When trees get old or diseased and are at risk of falling over, the safest thing to do is cut them down. The maples, beeches, and oaks can live to be 200 years old. Our two Cedars of Lebanon can live to be one thousand years old! They have a much better chance of survival if they are not injured by careless climbing or hanging on them. Broken branches and cuts on the bark are places where germs can get into the tree and hurt it. We like to think that the trees in our Park have a great life! Hug them gently. Talk to them and say thank you for the shade, the oxygen, and the beauty!
Papa Bear stump: southwest area near path
Mama Bear stump: north area near townhouses
Baby Bear stump: southwest corner, almost flush with ground