The Secret Language of Birds! July 27-30, 2015

For Bird Week, the mountain kids all grabbed their binoculars and eyed the trees for some of New Mexico’s best birds! Venturing to the Beaver Ponds and Diablo Canyon, as we hiked we listened to all the different bird sounds. Throughout the week, we spotted many birds from sparrows, vultures, ravens, and hawks. Wednesday was a special bird learning day! In the morning at Fort Marcy, we learned about the five different bird calls: song, companion calls, juvenile begging, territorial aggression, and alarm. In five skits, we reenacted the bird calls. We also learned about the bone structures of birds. Looking at different bird skulls, we found that the bird’s beaks, eyes, and nostrils will vary depending on the bird’s nature. In the afternoon, we visited the Espanola Wildlife Center. There, we met many different birds, including a burrowing owl, an osprey, a bald eagle, and a barred owl.

Wednesday Bird Activities and Adventures Slideshow:

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Hummingbirds Slideshow:

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Owls Slideshow:

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Eagles Slideshow:

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Amazing Animals! June 22-25, 2015 — Hummingbirds (5-6 year olds)

Looking at skulls, pelts, and tracks, the Hummingbirds learned about the amazing animals of New Mexico. On Monday and Tuesday, the heatwave pushed to the shade of trees, while we got to look at real animal pelts! Wednesday was beaver day, where we dressed up a counselor and brave volunteer as beavers to learn about the many adaptations beavers have that help them survive. Then we headed to the Beaver Ponds, where we learned more about how beavers impact the environment around them. Thursday was a special treat, when we got to visit the Española Wildlife Center, a place that takes in injured animals and rehabilitates them before re-releasing them to the wild. We got to see a number of birds, including a Red-tailed Hawk, Burrowing Owl, Osprey, chatty Magpie, Turkey Vulture and a hybrid Goshawk-Peregrine Falcon. Several of the kids got a treat when a handler took their Bald Eagle out of its cage, and were able to see it spread its wings. Once we finished at the Wildlife Center, we ran to Shidoni for a quick dip in the river to cool down before heading home.

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Week 7 – July 14-17: Amazing Animals!

The Beaver Ponds is a magical place to make forts, discover special creatures, find ancient fossils and make new friends!

Eagles were paired with Owls to study animal skulls. They had to decide, are they predator or prey? What do they eat? How’s their sense of smell or hearing? Then they would share their discoveries with the rest of the group.

Animal pelts are interesting to examine and touch too!

The Espanola Wildlife Center is a great place to see birds that you might not normally see.

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Friday was a fun day of exploring the Santa Fe Ski Basin without any snow. The creek that flows down Easy Street is a great place to cool off.

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The Secret Language of Birds! June 9-12, 2014.

The Secret Language of Birds is a new theme this year, and one which we LOVED!  We talked about “what makes a bird and bird” by playing a True and False game with our bodies.  Once we arrived at the Beaver ponds, everyone received their own bird behavior checklist and we talked about why birds perform each of the behaviors.  We acted out the behaviors and had the campers guess which one we were doing. Before setting off, each buddy pair received a pair of  binoculars to use during our hike.  It was awesome to witness the kids focus and interest in finding birds and deciding which behavior they were engaged in.  We saw lots of birds, some animal tracks, and found fossils as we hiked around the entire pond.

On Tuesday we ventured to Deer Creek after a story about birds and games at Fort Marcy.

The Owls (5-7 year olds), hiked, played, did sit spots and worked in their nature journals.

The Eagles did a big hike all the way to the pools where they had a chance to cool off in the icy cold water!

On Wednesday we talked about the five different voices of birds and the kids had a chance to act out the voices and talk about why birds will use each voice.  We compared some of these to human behavior (i.e. juvenile begging!).  On the Winsor Trail we had the opportunity to hear the bird language in real life and made educated guesses at what we thought the birds were saying to each other, or to other animals in the forest.

On Thursday we talked about some common birds and played games to learn what they are. Our adventure was to the Wildlife Center where we got to get up close to owls, hawks, eagles and some small mammals including fox and bobcat.  It was fascinating to hear the stories about how the animals got there and how we can help keep them in the wild.

Wednesday, August 7th: The Wildlife Center

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Mountain Kids went to the Española Wildlife Center today, but first we worked with clay, glass marbles, pebbles, stones, wildflowers and twigs to create fairy houses, or crazy houses!  The kids loved playing with the clay and making their own creations.

The Wildlife Center focused the kids’ attention on birds – particularly raptors. The three main characteristics of raptors are that they have powerful hooked beaks, strong talons/feet, and amazing eyesight – all which serve them to capture prey. The kids held their breath as  – one by one – the Center guides introduced them to different birds, starting with a red-tailed hawk, followed by a peregrine falcon, the fastest animal on earth (yes, it is faster than a cheetah!). They also met two owls and a turkey vulture.

After learning some basic facts about these birds and getting a good close up look at them, the kids toured the cages of various owls and hawks. They saw a beautiful American Bald Eagle, an Osprey, Peregrine Falcon, Goshawk, Red-tailed Hawk (to name just a few!) and two bobcats.

The animals at the center are there because they have been wounded, often by cars, and can no longer live in the wild. A strong message came out of the visit that we all need to be more aware of the impact we humans have on the animals with which we share our land and skies. The kids asked a lot of questions and often knew the answers the questions the guides asked. It was a magical day!

Wednesday, July 3rd – Rescue Animals at the Wildlife Center

We played some games and then had circle where Katie showed us pelts and skulls of local desert animals.  It was fun to feel the soft fur of so many animals (ranging from ringtailed cat to mountain lion!).

Afterward we had snack and then loaded up to go to the Wildlife Center.  This was wonderful. We had a tour and got an up close look at a Barred Owl, a Red Tailed Hawk, and a Peregrine Falcon.

Afterward, we walked around and saw all kinds of animals. Highlights included a bald eagle, vultures, falcons, a grey fox, bobcats, pygmy owls, and a turtle! We then chose an animal to go and draw, read stories, had closing circle, and played some games!

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