Rainbow Panorama

Tortoise Tales: Newsletter of the

Hi-Desert Nature Museum

May 2011

Martini Photo of Car 

Upcoming Temporary Exhibition

High and Dry: Photography by

Paul Martini

On Display June 11 through September 4 

This exhibit features stunning photographs by Paul Martini, a contemporary nature photographer whose images depict both the unspoiled beauty of our desert, in addition to capturing humanity's presence and impact on the landscape.  Paul Martini's photography incorporates fascinating contrasts of light and shadow, working in both color and black/white mediums.  He presents day and night photographs, the night images featuring the use of various forms of artificial lighting.  Many of the works were photographed in Joshua Tree National Park.  (Rainbow Panorama by Paul Martini shown above.)
Meet the Photographer!  An opening reception will be held on Friday, June 10,
5:00 - 7:00 p.m.  Paul Martini will be available to greet visitors and discuss his work. 
Free to the public.


Science Saturday 
Chemical Reactions
ChemistryHave you ever taken a bite of a lemon and had your mouth pucker up because it was so sour?  Have you ever wondered why some foods taste the way they do?  Join Museum Educator Crystal Mason as she teaches children about acids/bases, and other chemical reactions.  It is recommended that children be of school age for this program.   
May 21, 11:00 - 11:30 a.m.
FREE, no pre-registration required
Upcoming Science Saturdays
June 11: Plate Tectonics
June 25: Meteorology


1st Wednesday Program

George Van Tassel & the Integratron

Barbara Harris from the Morongo Basin Historical Society Integratron2will take you on a journey into the life of George Van Tassel, who lived at Giant Rock with his wife and daughters.  She will share stories of the Spacecraft Conventions and provide information on how and why he built the Integratron. 


June 1, 5:30 p.m.

$5 donation to the MBHS at the door 


Art and Culture Wednesdays
Article Subheading
Medeival Knight


Art & Culture  Wednesdays occur twice a month during the summer and provide unique opportunities for kids to explore these subjects through hands-on activities led by experienced staff. 

10:00 - 11:00 a.m.
June 15: Native American Culture
June 29: Heraldry & Medieval Knights 
July 13, 27; August 3, 17
$2 per student, materials and instructor fee
No pre-registration required, pay at the door
Brown Bag Lunch Lecture
Riveting Reptiles
ChuckwallaLiving in the desert one of the most commonly seen "wild" animals is a reptile of one kind or another.  From the ubiquitous little lizards that scurry away on sight to a startling snake or an awe-inspiring desert tortoise, reptiles are all around us.  But what do most of us really know about these somewhat ancient creatures?  Join museum biologist Stefanie Ritter for an entertaining and informative walk through the world of reptiles. 
Thursday, June 9, starting at Noon
FREE and beverages will be served
Grubstake Days
Gold MinersCome celebrate the 61st annual Grubstake Days!  The Grubstake Days Parade begins at 10:00 a.m. and travels along Highway 62 from Apache Trail to Dumosa Avenue.  Following the parade is a community fair at the Community Center Complex including vendor booths, horseshoes tournament, beard growing contest, kickball tournament, and lots of family fun!
The Hi-Desert Nature Museum will be hosting an exciting scavenger hunt.  Figure out the puzzle and win a prize!  Also hands-on art demonstrations will be led by some of the talented artists from our current Yucca Valley High School Art Show.

Saturday, May 28 

Click here to view a full schedule of Grubstake Days events
CoyoteThe image of a coyote howling at the moon is synonymous with the desert.  Coyotes once lived only in prairies and deserts of the western United States and Mexico, but today they thrive throughout North America.  Adaptability is the key to the success of the coyote.  They are omnivores and will eat almost anything - including small mammals and reptiles, insects, fish, grasses, and nuts - and they adapt quickly to new environments.  In Native American stories coyotes are depicted as quick and clever, which is a well deserved reputation.  For example, coyotes scan the sky for birds flying in circles knowing that the birds often hover over a dead animal, so finding the birds frequently leads to finding a free meal.  
Coyote Fun Facts
* The scientific name for coyote is Canis latrans, which means barking dog in Latin.
* When coyotes are about two years old, they select a mate and usually stay with that mate for life.
* Coyotes can woof, growl, bark, howl, and sing in a chorus.  In addition to sounds, coyotes communicate through body language and scent.
* Both parents care for the pups.  Parents chew food and swallow it, then bring it up again to feed the pups.
* Coyotes do not live in large packs as some wolves do.  If you see a group of 3-6 coyotes, it is likely a mated pair and their young, or perhaps a group of litter mates.
* Coyotes are nocturnal hunters and are valuable for rodent control.
Ground Squirrels 
Sweet PeaAnyone who has visited the museum has probably met Sweet Pea, our antelope ground squirrel (shown left).  Sweet Pea has delighted museum visitors for 13 years!  We suspect that he is a candidate for the Guiness Book of World Records for oldest ground squirrel.
Since we lack large trees in most of the Mojave Desert, it's not surprising that our squirrels are ground dwellers.  The three most common ground squirrels in the Morongo Basin are the antelope ground squirrel, beechey ground squirrel, and round-tailed ground squirrel.  They all dig burrows to live in and retreat to for safety, but spend days on the surface when the temperature is moderate, foraging and sunning.  These squirrels are well adapted for digging in the dirt with sharp claws and small ears set lower on their heads than those of tree squirrels.  They are omnivores, but the bulk of their diet is vegetation.  Antelope ground squirrels are easily identified by the white stripe running along their body.  Beechey ground squirrels are the largest of our native species and can be a pest around the yard.  The round-tailed ground squirrel is a social animal, and although it resembles a tiny prairie dog, the two are not related.       
Visit the Museum!
The Hi-Desert Nature Museum is located in the Yucca Valley Community Center Complex at 57116 Twentynine Palms Highway.  The museum is open Tuesday - Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Admission is free; donations support the educational mission of the museum.  The Hi-Desert Nature Museum is operated by the Town of Yucca Valley. 
For more information on our programs and events contact the Hi-Desert Nature Museum at (760) 369-7212 or see our web site at www.hidesertnaturemuseum.org
To view a full schedule of Yucca Valley events, sports programs and recreation classes visit the Town's web site at www.yucca-valley.org