An Unexpected Visitor

Nature is both fascinating and a little bit disgusting. I recently attached a bird feeder to our deck. I can see the feeder from my office window, and it’s lovely to watch the different birds and chipmunks throughout the day. For the last few mornings, however, I’ve gone out to fill the feeder and found random clusters of what appear to be sunflower hulls all stuck together. So I started googling things like, “What stuff is in my bird feeder?” After much searching, I discovered that I’m feeding a possum! Apparently possums take mouthfuls of sunflower seeds and chew them like crazy; then they spit out the remaining hulls in little pellets. It’s a bit icky, but I was imagining something much worse.

The next night, I turned on the deck light around 10:00 pm—and there it was! What a cutie! I’m surprised it didn’t “play dead” when discovered, but this little critter was pretty courageous. Did you know we have a fun literacy activity that incorporates learning about these neat marsupials? Check it out:

Little ones imitate opossum behavior with this giggle-worthy game! Gather a stack of letter cards that includes several Ds. Explain to youngsters that opossums are animals that have a very interesting reaction to danger—they stop all movement and pretend to be dead in the hope that enemies will go away. Have little ones practice “playing possum,” in this way. Next, show students one of the letter cards and prompt them to identify the letter. If the letter is a D like the beginning of danger, have youngsters play possum until you signal to them that the danger has passed. If the letter is not a D, prompt students to continue normal behavior. Then carry on with the remaining letter cards.


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