Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Discover Birds Visits 240 Students at Sevierville Primary School!

Seven volunteers from the Knoxville Chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society visited Sevierville Primary School on May 23rd to present the Discover Birds Program to 240 second graders and their teachers! 
Photo by Tom Howe

Students were divided into groups to rotate through the three parts of the program, a slide show introduction to birds, a show-and-tell session with bird related items, and a guided bird walk.  
 Photo by Warren Bielenberg.
Suzie Kaplar introduces students to birds with a slide show.  Photo by Tom Howe.

Photo by Warren Bielenberg.  Doug Schneeberger, above, talks with students about bird skeletons, feathers, nests, eggs and other items that are passed around for students to see closely.

Students were equipped with binoculars and bird ID cards to help them see and identify birds as they broke into small groups of twelve for their bird walks.  Bird walks were led by Chris Welsh, Tony King, Warren Bielenberg, Kris Johnson and Tom Howe.  
Photo by Warren Bielenberg

Tom described his experience with students:  "It was great fun with great weather. The students had awe-inspiring looks at birds through the spotting scopes including Tree Swallows, Brown-headed Cowbirds, Mourning Doves and an Eastern Kingbird. Students saw many more birds with binoculars, including Chimney Swifts, Blue Jays, Eastern Towhees and Carolina Chickadees. The big birds elicited the biggest response--a monstrous great blue heron, a red-tailed hawk and turkey vultures!" 
Photo by Tom Howe

"Sarah Greene, the lead teacher, filled the school's bird feeders and put seed on the classroom window sills which afforded many good looks at a variety of birds. Shortly after explaining how pishing provokes birds into mobbing behavior, because, it's believed, that it sounds like a wren scolding a predator, we saw a Red-winged Blackbird chasing off a predatory Red-tailed Hawk by dive-bombing it. Other highlights included Chris Welsh finding a gray catbird's nest and showing the students a picture he took of the eggs, explaining, it's best not to disturb a nest with a crowd. We had a great time and look forward to next year!"
Above, Warren shows students a bird they've identified on their ID guide.  Photo by Tom Howe
Photo by Warren Bielenberg

Warren described the students as very knowledgeable about birds and nature and interested, asking many questions.  "I think we ended up with about 25 species during the morning.  We, had great views of Eastern bluebirds and Tree swallows in the birdhouses.  Carolina chickadees, Mourning doves, Northern Cardinals and Eastern Towhees were seen at the feeders.  We also found some spittlebugs, caterpillars, raccoon tracks and scat. All in all, a good morning!"
Above, Tree Swallows in the process of nest building on the Sevierville Primary School campus.

A big thank you to Sarah Green and her fellow teachers at Sevierville Primary School for inviting the Discover Birds Program into their classrooms and for sharing their bird-friendly outdoor campus.
Each student and teacher received a Discover Birds Activity Book, compliments of KTOS.

Thank you also to KTOS Discover Birds volunteers Susie Kaplar, Tony King, Chris Welsh, Kris Johnson, Warren Bielenberg, Doug Schneeberger and Tom Howe for making this program happen!

Links and Resources:

KTOS--Knoxville Chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society
KTOS on Facebook
Discover Birds Program
Discover Birds Activity Book
online version--Discover Birds Activity Book
Discover Birds Curriculum Guide
Discover Birds in the Tennessee Conservationist
eBird at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Tennessee Birds
Tennessee Watchable Wildlife--Birds
Cornell's free beginning birding app--Merlin Bird ID by Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Audubon Mobile Field Guides

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Discover Birds Visits Lakeway Heritage Community Cooperative Students!

On April 22nd, Discover Birds Volunteers visited Lakeway Heritage Community Co-op  students in Jefferson City for a fun day of learning about birds.
Students met at the Jefferson City Library for an introductory slide show about birds and a show-and-tell session with bird-related items.  Bird feathers, eggs, nests and skeletons were available for close examination and discussion of the unique characteristics of birds.    
Volunteer Tom Howe reports, "After a good indoor session with lots of student interaction, forty parent and teacher participants went on a short walk at Mossy Creek Wildlife Viewing Area. Most of our birding was along the trail leading to a double-decker overlook of the marsh. The children were quite enthusiastic and were well prepared. Even a teacher was pleasantly surprised how well they recalled what they had been taught in class. Twenty bird species were identified and students got good looks at a Mallard, Black Vultures, a Red-tailed Hawk, Tree Swallows, Northern Cardinals, Red-winged Blackbirds and American Goldfinches.   A few got to see a Redwing through the scope, but they were using the binoculars so well, they mostly just launched out on their own."
All the students received a Discover Birds Activity Book, complements of the Knoxville Chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society.  A big thank you to Discover Birds volunteers Tom Howe, Tony King, Suzie Kaplar and Doug Schneeberger!

Images in this post were contributed by co-op teachers.

Links and Resources:

KTOS on Facebook
Discover Birds Program
Discover Birds Activity Book
Discover Birds Curriculum Guide
Discover Birds in the Tennessee Conservationist
eBird at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Tennessee Birds
Tennessee Watchable Wildlife--Birds
Cornell's free beginning birding app--Merlin Bird ID by Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Audubon Mobile Field Guides

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Home-schoolers Discover Birds at Halls Branch--Knox County Library!

Monday, October 5, 2015, a Discover Birds program was held for home schoolers at the Halls Branch, Knox County Library.  
KTOS members Doug Schneeberger, Billie Cantwell, Morton Massey and Merikay Waldvogel met with 13 home-schooled students and their parents who gathered at the library on beautiful clear day. 
The group ranged in age from 4 through 12.  Doug Schneeberger held them all in rapt attention as he showed them bird skeletons, feathers, and other interesting bird-related items that they could see at close range.  
After Doug's session, Merikay handed out binoculars to each student and demonstrated how to use them.  

The whole group then took a walk along the Halls Marsh Greenway.  Near the start, they had a wide view of the wetlands.  
A Northern Mockingbird was chattering away in a tree top and on the ground in the shadows, the students easily focused on an Eastern Towhee. 
Morton heard a Song Sparrow, but for the most part, the birds were quiet and the water was higher than normal.  The students used their binoculars to get closer looks at tadpoles in the puddles and to spot the beaver lodge. 
Finally, at the bridge, a Downy Woodpecker landed on a nearby tree and everyone was able to see details on the bird.  Morton pointed out that this bird was a female because it did not have a red patch on the back of its neck.
Below, Morton shows students a Downy Woodpecker on his phone bird app.  
  On the walk back, we heard Carolina Chickadees and got close-up looks of two crows on a wire.  
The checklist of birds found were submitted to Ebird.  It included:  Carolina Chickadee, Song Sparrow, Eastern Towhee, Northern Cardinal, American Crow, Blue Jay, Northern Mockingbird, Downy Woodpecker, and American Crow.  

When asked what impressed him the most, Malaki (age 12) said seeing the Northern Mockinbird was cool, "I've never seen one before.”  Ginger (age 8) liked the Downy Woodpecker because she learned how to tell whether or not it was a girl.  Beth (age 5) liked the crows because she learned how smart they were.
Above, Merikay talks with students about what they enjoyed most about their bird walks.  Each child received a copy of the Discover Birds Activity Book from the Knoxville Chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society (KTOS).

A special thank you to Billie Cantwell for providing the photos in this post and to our Discover Birds volunteers for making this program possible!  A big thank you also to the home-school teachers and students who participated in the program and to Halls Branch Library for providing an excellent location!

Links and Resources:

Halls Branch--Knox County Library
KTOS on Facebook
Discover Birds Program
Discover Birds Activity Book
Discover Birds Curriculum Guide
Discover Birds in the Tennessee Conservationist
eBird at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Tennessee Birds
Tennessee Watchable Wildlife--Birds
Cornell's free beginning birding app--Merlin Bird ID by Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Audubon Mobile Field Guides

Friday, October 2, 2015

Creative Learning Academy Students Discover Birds!

On October 1st, Discover Birds volunteers presented the Discover Birds Program to 30 home-schooled students from Creative Learning Academy at the Dean Hill Recreation Center in West Knoxville. 
Above, Discover Birds volunteer Jerry Ledbetter with Creative Academy students.

KTOS members Morton Massey, Doug Schneeberger, Jerry Ledbetter and Merikay Waldvogel presented the program to students from pre-kindergarden to 5th grade on an overcast day.  
The students were divided into three age groups and cycled through the three parts of the program:  a bird slide show, a bird walk, and a hands-on bird show-and-tell activity.  
While Morton showed a slide show about birds inside to one group, Jerry and Merikay gave binoculars to another group of students and demonstrated how to use them.  
                   
Inside, Doug had many bird-related items to show the students, including feathers, bones and skulls that students could pick up and examine closely.
All the students, no matter what age, had lots of questions.  Some had hung bird feeders fashioned from plastic drink bottles and spoons the week before.  
The checklist of birds found included: Carolina Chickadee, Northern Cardinal, American Crow, Blue Jay, Northern Mockingbird, Chimney Swift and Great Blue Heron. We heard a Carolina Wren.  

The best look occurred when the older students climbed to the top of a piece of playground equipment. With their binoculars on their eyes, a Great Blue Heron flew slowly and gracefully by.  
Asked what impressed him the most, Jackson, a 5th grader, said, “I’m impressed with these binoculars. I’m going to use my money and buy some.  I’d go over to the Cove [in Farragut] and look at birds there.”  
Carpenter, who kept spotting birds no one else had seen, also liked the binoculars, and said it was the Great Blue Heron that impressed him the most.
The group's sponsor, Clare Dattilo, and other parents present were impressed with the Discover Birds program activities. Several were birdwatchers themselves.  Each of the students were given a Discover Birds Activity book to take home, presented by the Knoxville Chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society and the Discover Birds Program.
Creative Learning Academy meets twice a week at the Dean Hill Recreation Center.  They take advantage of the outdoor environment to study nature, including trees, butterflies, and birds.

A big thank you to our Discover Birds volunteers, and to Merikay Waldvogel for sharing her photographs and details about this event!

Links and Resources:

Creative Learning Academy website
KTOS on Facebook
Discover Birds Program
Discover Birds Activity Book
Discover Birds Curriculum Guide
Discover Birds in the Tennessee Conservationist

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Discover Birds Inspires Second Grade Art and Research!

In May of 2015, the KTOS Discover Birds Program visited Sevierville Primary School for the third consecutive year, enjoying an outstanding morning Discovering Birds with 280 second graders and their teachers.

You may enjoy seeing our morning activities, including a low pass over our heads by a magnificent Bald Eagle at  Sevierville Primary 2015.  This posts revisits that day to show you how some of the students got ready for our visit!
As the program was coming to a close, Ms Kathy Porter, second grade teacher, caught my attention and showed me a bulletin board filled with her students' art and research.  I was so happy she showed it to me!
In preparation for our upcoming Discover Birds Program, her students each selected a bird from anywhere in the world, researched the bird on the internet, drew the bird and wrote about what they learned.  The results of their efforts were beautifully displayed as "Birds of a Feather Flock Together!"

I wanted to read every word and savor the art the way I would a gallery of art in a museum! Everyone's work was so creative!  I will share a few of them here, but they were all wonderful!
Hummingbirds were a favorite bird selected.  "Let me tell you about hummingbirds." one artist wrote. "A hummingbird sings with its wings."

"Some hover like bees." another wrote.  "They lick nectar with its quick tongues.  Bugs get licked too."

Some of the birds chosen were selected for their unique feathers or behavior.
"Male Peacocks find an enemy and they shoot their feathers up and it looks [like] eyes watching them."

"A Roseate Spoonbill is a wading bird.  It has long legs to keep it high above the water.  It also has a big beak to help it catch fish....A Roseate Spoonbill swings its beak underwater."

"The Yellow-billed Woodpecker eats only ticks and other bugs [on the animals] it rides.  The animals it rides are giraffes, zebras and oxen.  The Yellow-billed Woodpecker lives in Africa because the big animals it rides live there....They clean the heads of the animals they ride."
"Wild parrots live in North America, South America, Australia, Asia and Africa.  The Macaws are the biggest parrots.  Wild parrots screech when they try to talk....Many parrots wear brilliant green, yellow, red and blue."

"Flamingos are pink and reddish.  They live in Asia, Africa and North America.  They live near mud and water.  Flamingos like to sit in water."

A big thank you to Sevierville Primary School and Ms Porter for sharing their students' creative work with us!

Links and Resources:

Discover Birds Visits Sevierville Primary School
Sevierville Primary School
Discover Birds Activity Book
Discover Birds Curriculum Guide
Discover Birds in the Tennessee Conservationist

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Discover Birds Participates in July Youth Naturalists' Rally!

The Friends of Roan Mountain sponsor a summer naturalist rally for youth at Roan Mountain State Park each summer.  Volunteers Brookie and Jean Potter and Joe McGuinness, members of the Herndon Chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society, brought the Discover Birds Program to the rally and enjoyed a day of getting children excited about birds!
Photo credit:  Jean Potter

The presentation part of the program included viewing and learning from specimens of birds, bird feathers and nests that were loaned to the program by Milligan College ornithologist, Dr. Gary Wallace.  Larry McDaniels, Steele Creek Park Naturalist, provided binoculars for students to use during their bird walk, and the Herndon bird club provided bird check lists for participants.  
Photo credit:  Jean Potter

A slide show showed birds often seen in the Roan Mountain area, and participants learned about the characteristics that make a bird a bird and what birds need to survive.  The recovery of the Bald Eagle in upper east Tennessee was used as an example of population changes and a species that has been helped locally by conservation efforts.
Bay's Mountain State Park's educational Great Horned Owl was shown to participants during the program.   Photo credit:  Jean Potter

A 30 minute bird walk included some great finds!  Participants got good looks at a Gray Catbird in a marshy area.  Eastern Bluebirds were also present along with Mourning Doves and American Goldfinch.
Gray Catbird    Photo credit:  Cephas/Wiki Commons

In addition to binoculars, a spotting scope was set up and students got close-up views of an American Robin and a Song Sparrow.
Each of the children participating in the program received a free Discover Birds Activity Book provided by the Tennessee Ornithological Society.
Jean reported that the table exhibit set up for the rally attracted a lot of attention from children and parents participating in other programs at the rally.  The Herndon club volunteers were invited to bring Discover Birds back again next year!  Birds and children--a fun combination!
The Discover Birds Activity Book and its curriculum guide are available online at the following link: Discover Birds Activity Book

Links and Resources:

Discover Birds Activity Book
Discover Birds Curriculum Guide
Discover Birds in the Tennessee Conservationist
Tennessee Ornithological Society, Herndon Chapter
Xtreme Roan Adventures--Youth Naturalist's Rally
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