Village Charter School

Birding continues at the Village Charter School on Orchard his year.  Sixth grade is making a study of birds in science this year, and middle math students take daily birding breaks.  House finches, lesser gold finches, sparrows, and doves make living in our classroom a delight, and binoculars are ready to be pulled out in seconds.  I love this way to being with kids; oh and we do learn math too.  

What's New

A Coopers Hawk at Our Feeder

December 13, 2014 - 11:59am -- helenfisher

TVCS birders have seen a small hawk perching and cruising around our feeders for some time.  Is it a Coopers Hawk or a Sharpshinned Hawk?  Light-colored breast with distinctive orange stripes; dark back although maybe not as solid gray as a mature male and distinctively barred tail that we think spreads out in flight.  We are calling our hawk a Coopers Hawk until someone corrects us.  Last Monday morning was a thrill for the whole 7th grade class.  The hawk and our murder of crows were in battle over the playground territory.  One hawk against one crow, lead to some aerial acrobatics from the pair, but when the crows joined forces, the hawk took off to far tall cottonwoods by the irrigation canal.  

But the morning drama was not over!  Coming out to monitor our feeders, there was the Coopers Hawk again, but this time on some wooden pallets by the feeder, and no small bird sounds or sights.  The whole class came out to watch and the hawk was not bothered.  Fifteen feet away from our not-as-quiet- as-we-might- have-been class of 25, the hawk hopped up to the bird bath, intent on something other than us.  It moved from there to a stack of chairs, then to the nearby portable roof.  We watched the hawk, the hawk watched for some movement near the feeders.  Minutes later, the hawk moved away to hunt elsewhere, but no sooner than it flew away, a chickadee darted out from under the pallets where we first saw the hawk and into the safe shrubbery!  We had witnessed a failed hunt and a chickadee that survived another day.


TVCS 7th grade Bird Watching Club Meeting 1

December 13, 2014 - 11:22am -- helenfisher

Last Wednesday, Heidi Ware came to TVCS (Village Charter School) at lunch. We went across the street to the Morris Hill Cemetery. We saw 10+ Northern Flickers, 7 Mourning Doves,10+ Canada Geese, and 4 Red-Breasted Nuthatch.

We stood under a tree, and used Heidi's phone to send out the call of the nuthatch.  After the call was sent, 4 nuthatches came down from the top of the tree.  In the first place, we found the nuthatches by listening as we walked.  They have quite distinctive and loud calls for tiny birds, but they are small and moved around quickly in the crowns of tall conifers.  We did not see them until we stopped walking and Heidi's recording called them down toward us.  Then four agitated little birds, moved closer and closer to us looking for the source of their sound.  When they calmed down and settled back to feeding, we watched them work up and down the branches pecking for food, maybe insects, under the bark.

But a caution from Heidi: she would not call the birds over and over at the same tree and she would not call the birds on a cold day when they were on the edge of survival.  The disturbance stops them from feeding for a time and food is critical for survival, especially in winter.  Heidi would also not use the call recording near nesting birds.  

Another discovery were the distinctive drilling patterns of the red-naped sapsucker.  Heidi told us that when we see horizontal rows of holes about the size of a 3 millimeter drill bit in the bark of a conifer trunk, we are looking at the work of a sapsucker - a woodpecker like bird.  The bird is feeding on sap and insects that might be caught in the sap.  We won't see this bird here in December though.  It is only a summer visitor.

Thank you Heidi.  Signing out: Brysan, Dade, Alyssa, Logan, Betty and Ethan


A Frozen Warbler in Morris Hill Cemetery

November 20, 2014 - 5:05pm -- helenfisher

Recently we met with Heidi Ware our BSU Masters graduate of Ornithology.  Mr. Mason our school technologist found a dead bird in the park on a very cold day.  It was a young colorful bird that was frozen in the cold.  Heidi identified the find as a yellow-rumped warbler, sub-species Audubon's warbler.  Our teacher, Dr. (soil scientist) Fisher thought it was a kinglet, but first grade teacher Mrs Gardner suggested it was a warbler.  Doc was so wrong because a kinglet is half the size of a warbler!  We wanted to know if it was female or male and how it died.  Heidi told us that a male has a bright yellow chin and the female has a faint yellow chin, so she identified it as a young female.  We have baby teeth and birds have baby feathers.  Our bird still had some juvenile feathers on the wings and the skull bones were not fully developed.  Heidi said that the young female was one of this years nestlings and that winter survival is difficult for juveniles.  Heidi could tell that this bird did not have extra fat reserves and so could not survive in the cold.  Heidi also told us that warblers eat insects in the summer in winter will survive on berries - juniper berries are a favorite.  They even grow a longer intestinal tract to digest the winter diet!  Wow we learned a lot from a dead bird.  

Adding Peanuts

November 13, 2014 - 11:38am -- helenfisher

We added a peanut feed this week after observing an interested flicker.  We also hope to attract the nuthatch that frequented last week.  


What we've seen this school year


Species Count Disposition Date and Time Link

American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis)
4 Perched 02/12/2018 - 9:30am Details

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)
3 Perched 02/12/2018 - 9:30am Details

California Gull (Larus californicus)
6 Flying 02/12/2018 - 9:30am Details

American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)
2 Perched 02/12/2018 - 9:30am Details

House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus)
4 Perched 02/07/2018 - 9:15am Details

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)
4 Perched 02/07/2018 - 9:15am Details

American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis)
5 Perched 02/07/2018 - 9:15am Details

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)
2 Flying 02/07/2018 - 9:15am Details

House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus)
1 Perched 02/06/2018 - 9:30am Details

American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)
1 Flying 02/06/2018 - 9:30am Details


Helen Fisher, Grade 5
Boise, Idaho USA
Latitude: 43.6065
Longitude: -116.234


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