If colors compete, then brown
Will win at least one crown.
Why? For being everywhere!
See brown fungus heading for some air,
Through brown needles of the pines,
And its base in brown soil reclines.

You can use this part of the book to…

  • talk about fungi, birds, and mammals
  • remind folk that pets were a type of wildlife, and their cousins still are
  • talk about parts of organisms
  • talk about colors and patterns of  colors

This page starts by pointing out how widespread the color brown is.  With the dog comes the suggestion that you make a list of all animals that are ‘brown’ (it is probably best to treat this as ‘at least part of the organism is brown’.  Work through the book … and don’t ignore the brown spots in the center of the yellow flowers (black eyed susans) in the picture of the rainbow on the Spectrum page.  This is not going to be simple, because there is no simple (black and white) definition of ‘brown’, and as you deal with oranges and reds, you’ll have to make some rules.  You may need to get a panel of folk to vote; seek someone to arbitrate when there is disagreement, opt for the broadest definition (if anyone thinks this is brown, then we include it).    The White page will add more complications. Does the snowshoe hare have brown feet, or has it just not cleaned its feet recently? If you check out what the hares they look like in the summer, you will find that they are very brown then. Does an organism count as being brown if it is brown at some time in its life.

Next time you go to a big shop that sells paint, they usually have little cards that show the colors of paints.  Just collect any and all that your team think are brown. Use these to help guide discussion.

As for the fungus.  This is an agaric fungus (see the orange page for what this means).  The mushrooms (there are about 7) that are pushing up through the pine needles  are just a small part of the fungus.  Most of the fungus lives underground as a network of fine threads (hyphae) through which it picks up food. In natural environments, this mycelium (as the system of hyphae is called) can extend for yards, even miles!  Very often, the hyphae and the small roots of plants wrap around each other, and exchange various goodies that keep each other healthy and growing.  When two organisms interact like this, it is called a ‘symbiosis’.  The pine needles on the ground suggest that these big brown mushrooms are growing from hyphae that are associated with pine trees.

Blue-eyed brown husky dog

This husky has a brown nose
and brown hair
Other brown mammals? Lion,
horse, and brown bear
Cattle, squirrel, rat and a bat.
Are there any more than that?

The husky with his blue eye is a lovely looking dog.   Use him to start leafing through the book, digging through your memories, or the internet, for any animals that you think of that are brown.   There is a special chemical in the external skeletons of insects which makes the skeleton brown. You can see this in the legs, antennae and wings this sweat bee (even though its body has sparkling green hairs – and it is on a lavender plant (color lavender), is collecting pollen on its back legs (color yellow). Plants also have a chemical that makes their hard tissues (wood, dried leaves, branches) brown.

Green sweat bee on lavender
Kookaburra with meal

Brown eyed kookaburra in a
brown-barked gum tree
Brown feathers and brown
lizard in brown beak for tea

Last for this color is the kookaburra, an Australian bird (Dacelo novaeguineae).  They are a type of kingfisher, but they live on land and eat small animals. This one has just caught a small skink, a kind of lizard.  Once they catch their prey, they usually fly up to the branch of a tree, and then smack the prey against the tree to make sure it is dead before they try to eat it.  Kookaburras can become very cheeky, sweeping down when folk are having picnics, and flying off with a piece of cold meat.  They will take this to a tree and bang it as well.  And, because we are thinking about colors, you’ll see that this guy has some blue in his wings.  Blue is found in many kookaburras.

If you have ideas, questions, or more to say please let us know below.

Nature Reader colors web Brown

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