Saturday, May 17, 2014

Brownie Troop 20869 in Oak Ridge Discovers Birds!

Discover Birds volunteers and Oak Ridge Brownie Troop No. 20869 had a great time at Big Turtle Park in Oak Ridge this week, on May 14th.  
The group met in the playground area to visit with Paula Schneeberger and learn about her interesting bird treasures.
Her collection of bird items gives students the opportunity to learn details about the physical characteristics of birds and their behavior and to see some of these things up close.  Everyone enjoyed a close look at one of the characteristics that make birds different from all other animals--feathers!
Paula discusses the individual feather parts or filaments and explains they can separate leaving gaps. Each filament also has barbs that help hold the filaments together.  Birds take care of their feathers by preening. Paula compares preening to a zipper on a jacket. Preening zips the filaments back together!
The girls already knew some ways that feathers help birds, including flight and protecting them from cold.
Some students also knew that bird bones are hollow.  This characteristic helps bird flight making the bird's body very light.

Above, owl pellets are passed around.  Students are challenged to figure out what they are seeing in the pellets.  Owls can not digest hair, skulls and some bits of bones.  Sometimes there is enough of a hint remaining to identify the animal that was digested.
Birds' nests come in many sizes, shapes and materials. Some birds weave their nest between two twigs so that it is suspended in between.

Volunteer, Billie Cantwell, bought a bird poster, offering the students an opportunity to get familiar with some of the birds they might see on their bird walk.  Many could already identify the American Robin and Northern Cardinal.
Students also received a Waterford Press pocket guide of Tennessee birds to take with them on their walk to help identify birds.
Doug Schneeberger (behind the leaves) talks with students about the birds they are hearing.  The group stopped to listen to a Blue-headed Vireo.  At the pond, students showed interest in the fish and insects they found.  
As they were leaving the trail area, the group moved into a field and saw a small flock of Cedar Waxwings. Everyone was excited to also find this bird on their pocket guides.

A big "thank you" to Brownie Troop No. 20869 for their enthusiasm and interest in discovering birds! Thanks also to KTOS Discover Birds volunteers Billie Cantwell, Paul Schneeberger, and Doug Schneeberger.  Each of the students received a free Discover Birds Activity Book to continue their interest and learning about birds!

Photo credit for all images:  Billie Cantwell

Links and Resources:

Waterford Press Pocket Guides--Tennessee Birds
KTOS--Knoxville Chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society
KTOS on Facebook
Discover Birds Program
Discover Birds Activity Book
Discover Birds Curriculum Guide
Feather parts--filaments
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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