Join our very own Mrs. Frizzle to learn the secret language of birds and some local specie. Birds love bugs, and if you do too, we will capture creepy, crawly bugs using our hands, pitfall traps, funnel traps, potato traps and finger traps. We will get up close and personal with Tarantulas and more with a visit to the Bug Museum in Santa Fe.
It was a bugging good week for the Mountain Kids! Monday’s adventure on the Aspen Vista trail, accompanied by the Hummingbird’s hand-crafted bug catchers, provided a lovely introduction to a variety of our local bugs and birds. Tent Caterpillars painted the dirt paths and climbed up the aspen trees which allowed for fun and easy hands-on access to the little critters! After spending the morning reviewing some of the characteristics of different birds and bugs common in our area, the Hummingbirds practiced their creativity in a few rounds of bug and bird charades!
Wade, our wonderful bug friend in town, met with the team on Tuesday and guided us on a hike to several different bugs. The Mountain Kids learned about local spiders, beetles, ants, grasshoppers, water insects, and many more during their time at the Beaver Ponds.
With lots of new information concerning different bugs, the Hummingbirds were ‘antsy’ for their visit to the Bug Museum on Wednesday. The team met with Wade, again, at the Harrell House Bug Museum, where they held different bugs, watched the spiders and tarantulas get fed, and explored several different caged critters.
On Thursday, the Hummingbirds buzzed on over to the Santa Fe Raptor Center where they met with a variety of different owls and falcons and learned about their characteristics, diets, and different habitats. Each child was able to spritz one of the falcons with water to help him cool off in the heat. Boy – it sure was a hot one! The Hummingbirds also had their chance to cool off by splashing around in the river in El Rito.
We finished our day with watermelon and ‘appreciations’. It was sweet to hear the kids appreciating new friends they had made, the birds they saw, bugs they met and the counselors who lead them throughout the week.
Friday was a sweet end to the week spent playing in the mud and water at Nambe Falls!
Our week began with a bug search on land and water in the Nature Conservancy with Wade, from the Harrell House Bug Museum. Thanks to Wade, we now know that the large black beetles we’ve been calling ‘stink bugs’ are really called ‘Darkling Beetles’! We had fun looking for and identifying bugs with Wade.
Tuesday found us at the New Mexico Wildlife center in Espanola, where we met an impressive variety of birds of prey in addition to two relaxed bobcats and a fox, each of which were enjoying their afternoon downtime. With a long day spent exploring the grounds of the Wildlife Center, the team cooled down in the Pojoaque Creek, where they splashed in the water and built mud castles. Fun!
Each camper made a bug catcher on Wednesday morning, just in time to carefully capture and release a number of cabbage white butterflies and crickets at the La Cieneguilla Petroglyph site, down airport road.
On Thursday our culminating bug trip was to The Harrell House Bug Museum, where we delighted in visiting with all sorts of scorpions, tarantulas, various beetles and a huge water monitor (rather like a Komodo dragon).
‘Heads, shoulders, knees and toes’ will forever be ‘Head, thorax, abdomen’ to us, especially as we added antennae, mandibles and compound eyes to our action song! Becoming bugs together in bug charades infused us with fun and laughter and the necessary water frolicking was an essential part of our week together!
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:
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.
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!
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!