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

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.  

COLD WEATHER

November 11, 2014 - 10:12am -- helenfisher

The birds were out in force around the feeders after our first cold night!  Students saw a first junco and a flicker showing interest.  

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What we've seen this school year

Observations

Helen Fisher, Grade 5
Boise, Idaho USA

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