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Day 33: How to tell the age of a white pine tree and a nature riddle

Outdoor activity ideas and inspiration

From mid-March to the end of May 2020, Harpswell Heritage Land Trust (HHLT) posted a simple outdoor activity idea and nature riddle for kids every weekday. Some days we also posted other resources, like downloadable chapters of the Junior Ranger Activity Book.

Created to support parents who found themselves homeschooling during the COVID-19 pandemic, these activity ideas are a great jumping off point for any outdoor adventure. Click here for a list with links to all 50 activity ideas.

Nature riddle

This common bird mates for life, and both sexes are involved with nest building and raising their young. The female will sit on the eggs for 14-18 days and, after hatching, the chicks are fed by both parents for two to three weeks before they leave the nest. Young birds may remain with their parents into the autumn. Click here to read more about this fascinating animal.

How to tell the age of a white pine tree

With all this warmer weather lately, buds on the trees are opening up, flowers are starting to bloom and creatures are waking up and returning to Maine. This is also the time of year that a lot of trees start to add new growth on their twigs, branches, and trunks so they can grow taller, just like you!

Young white pine trees look like this. How old is the tree in this picture? (Hint: see how many whorls of branches you can count!)

This new growth can sometimes help you figure out how old a tree is. For some trees, like the White Pine, you can count how many branch rings the tree has to estimate its age! This is because the White Pine is uni-nodal, meaning it grows one node or ring of branches per year. The nodes are farther apart if it was a good year and the tree is healthy. The nodes are closer together if it was a bad year and the tree couldn’t grow as much.

Try going outside to see if you can find a White Pine near your house (Tip: It’s easier to estimate the age on small pine trees). Could you find one? How old was it? Why do you think the tree grew more in some years than others?

This activity idea contributed by Emma Levy.