Friday, February 10, 2017

Sharing our Discover Birds Activity Books with Cuba

Discover Birds activity books are now in the hands of many of our new Cuban friends and teachers to help children learn about birds.  On a recent trip to Cuba, I along with my Naturalist Journeys traveling companions enjoyed the honor of gifting Discover Birds Activity books to the people who welcomed us into Cuban life and culture.
Coffee grower, Omar Ramirez and Vickie Henderson        Photo by Billie Cantwell

We took both Spanish and English translations of the activity books to share in Cuba.  The printing of the Spanish translation was made possible through a generous donation from Naturalist Journeys. Naturalist Journeys will be taking the books to Cuba and other Spanish speaking countries as they continue to travel throughout 2017.

The printed English books were funded with matching donations from the Tennessee Ornithological Society and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency


Our tour of Cuba traveled from Santa Clara to Cayo Coco, to Topes de Collantes and Trinidad, to the Zapata Peninsula and west to Vinales, Soroa, Las Terrazas and Havana.  We covered a lot of territory in nine days and had the opportunity to learn about many aspects of Cuban life.  Among my fifteen Naturalist Journeys touring companions were Billie Cantwell and Colin Leonard, also from Knoxville, and fellow members of the Knoxville Chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society.

One of our reasons for traveling to Cuba was to see Cuba's beautiful birds, of course!  Among many bird species we met the smallest hummingbird in the world, the 2 inch Bee Hummingbird, a bird endemic to Cuba and found no where else.
We also enjoyed seeing Cuba's national bird, the Cuban Trogon, along with 17 Cuban endemic species and 17 regional endemics found only in the West Indies.
In Las Terrazas we visited a community and it's school.  School was letting out as we arrived and children were skipping rope and playing games as they also headed toward home.




Las Terrazas' school master with Vickie Henderson.      Photo by Billie Cantwell

Otis Campa was our guide for our visit and walking tour of the Las Terrazas community and its school.  He teaches children about birds and conservation and about the value of keeping birds in the wild and out of cages.  We were delighted to present him with activity books both in Spanish and English to use with his students. In the photo, below, we are standing in the area where we also saw an endemic Cuban Kite.
Billie Cantwell, Vickie Henderson, Otis Campa and Otis' son, in Las Terrazas, Cuba.  Photo by Colin Leonard.
On our last day in Havana, we presented books to our Cuban guide, Liudmys Ramirez, and bus driver, Alexis Alfonso, pictured here with Vickie Henderson.  Both Lu and Alexis were with us for the nine days of our tour and made our journey unforgettable.   Photo by Billie Cantwell.

A big thank you to Naturalist Journeys for making the printing of the Spanish books possible!

New Spanish translation
Naturalists Journeys
Discover Birds Activity Book
Discover Birds Curriculum Guide
Discover Birds Program
Visit to Cuba in 2014
Tennessee Ornithological Society
Tennessee Watchable Wildlife sponsored by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Discover Birds visits Nature's Way Montessori

On January 25th, 2017, KTOS Discover Birds volunteers, Tom Howe, Doug Schneeberger and Merikay Waldvogel presented the Discover Birds Program to two student classes and their teachers and aides at Nature's Way Montessori in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Tom gave a slideshow overview of birds showing some of the beauty, uniqueness and variety of birds around us.   Doug showed students the many interesting characteristics of birds, with close-up looks at models of their skeletons, eggs, nests, feathers and other bird-related items.  


After the introductory sessions, students went outside for a guided bird walk to find birds in their school yard.  The best bird sightings for the children were a Pileated Woodpecker and a Red-tailed Hawk circling overhead.
Above, a male Pileated Woodpecker.

All the children received a Discover Birds Activity Book, complements of the Knoxville Chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society.  A BIG THANK YOU to our Discover Birds volunteers and Nature's Way Montessori for making this program possible.

To see our previous visits to Nature's Way Montessori, click this link:  Nature's Way

Nature's Way Montessori School
KTOS--Knoxville Chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society
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, February 3, 2017

Discover Birds Activity Book in SPANISH!

Inspired by a desire to take activity books to Cuba on a planned visit in 2017 and made possible by a slew of generous volunteers, we now have a Spanish translation of the Discover Birds Activity Book!  
This translation was accomplished by Barbara Routledge of Calera, Oklahoma, a Spanish teacher at Durant Middle School in Durant, Oklahoma.  The translation process took about two months and Barbara expresses gratitude and heartfelt appreciation to students Jhoana Ramirez and Angel Lopez who helped her tremendously.
Jhoana's parents also helped when they got ‘stuck’ translating a phrase or word.  On behalf of Discover Birds and the Tennessee Ornithological Society, we extend a very big thank you to all who helped.  We are indebted to Barbara and her students for their time and perseverance!

The translation was further edited and revised for science-related content by Toby Koosman of the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) in Knoxville, TN.  A big thanks to Toby for her help also.

As with every new edition of the publication, Mindy Fawver of Knoxville is our go-to person for design, arrangement and print-ready format.  We greatly appreciate her dedication to this project!

A big thank you also to Cyndi Routledge of Clarksville, TN, who recruited Barbara for the translation project and coordinated all aspects of printing and shipping!

The Spanish translation is available as a free pdf on the Tennessee Ornithological Society website. The printing of a limited number of books was funded by Naturalist Journeys in December with the goal of taking these books as gifts on birding and naturalist tours to Cuba and other Spanish speaking countries in 2017.  We thank Naturalist Journeys owner, Peg Abbott, for her interest and enthusiasm and for making our first printing of the Spanish translation possible!

To make a request for printed English activity books for your classroom or program, contact Cyndi Routledge at routledges@bellsouth.net.  To download and print a copy of the English version of the activity book, visit:  The Tennessee Ornithological Society--Educational Resources page.

Discover Birds Activity Book
Discover Birds Curriculum Guide
Discover Birds Program
Tennessee Ornithological Society
Tennessee Watchable Wildlife sponsored by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

Thursday, November 17, 2016

New Printing of our Discover Birds Activity Books!

Eleven thousand new Discover Birds Activity Books have just been delivered to our storage facility in Clarksville, Tennessee!  

A special THANK YOU to Cyndi Routledge for her efforts in securing funding and for coordinating the printing of the books.  A big THANK YOU to the Tennessee Ornithological Society and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency for their generous donations of matching funds for this printing. 
We also owe a debt of gratitude to Steve and Cyndi Routledge for their generous donation of space for storage while the books are being distributed.

TOS member Cyndi Routledge, of Clarksville, coordinates the free distribution of the Discover Birds Activity Books. The only requirement is that the books be used as part of an educational program that includes a bird walk experience introducing children to the birds around them.  Educational programs are also asked to provide a brief description of their activities and photographs that can be shared with others on the Discover Birds Blog.

To make a request for activity books for your classroom or program, contact Cyndi Routledge at routledges@bellsouth.net.

To download and print a copy of the activity book, visit:  The Tennessee Ornithological Society--Educational Resources page.

Discover Birds Activity Book
Discover Birds Curriculum Guide
Discover Birds Program
Tennessee Ornithological Society
Tennessee Watchable Wildlife sponsored by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

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
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