Sunday, April 19, 2015

Discover Birds Visits After-Schoolers at Norwood Elementary School

On April 13th, Discover Birds Volunteers from the Knoxville Chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society had a great time introducing 60 Norwood Elementary School Students, 3rd. 4th and 5th graders, to the wonder of birds in their after-school program.
Above, Billie Cantwell, coordinator of the program, shares her slide show presentation and encourages students to share what they know about the birds presented.  Her presentation includes birds nesting in her own yard and many of the birds are presented with their songs and calls.
At the same time, another group of students met with our Discover Birds bird-walk leaders, Merikay Waldvogel, center, Jerry Ledbetter, Christine Hamilton, and Susie Kaplar. Students were introduced to binoculars, and given opportunity to learn to focus them before beginning their bird walks.
Jerry Ledbetter, above, helps a student adjust her binoculars.
Above, Merikay, Vice-President of KTOS, helps students find the bird first and then raise their binoculars to where their eyes are looking.  The bird they are viewing is a male Eastern Bluebird, (shown below) that was hunting in the school yard.  Bluebirds hunt from a perch and drop down to the grown to capture insects, then fly back to the perch to eat.
Bluebirds are well known for the bright blue plumage and soft warblering song.  The male is brighter in color than the female, who is more gray-blue in plumage.
Above, Merikay shows students the bluebird's field marks or identifying characteristics using a Tennessee pocket field guide by Waterford Press.
Susie Kaplar and Jerry Ledbetter, lead students back to the school after finding robins, a Mourning Dove, starlings and a blackbird near the bamboo thicket.  The students rotated from field walks, to the slide show, to the "show and tell" demonstration which includes bird-related items they can see close-up, such as feathers, talons, skeletons, eggs and nests.
Doug Schneeberger shows students the skulls of a Wood Stork and a commorant, illustrating the ways in which the birds beak is suited for their unique foraging habits and food source.
Above and below, another group of students receives instruction in the use of binoculars.

A European Starling was discovered on her nest in a tree cavity.  Other starlings were present in the tree limbs nearby.

Volunteer, Phil Kaplar, brought his birding telescope to share with the students.  The scope enabled students to see a closer view of the starling on her nest.
Two starlings perched in the nearby maple, as though guarding the nesting territory. Starlings form monogamous pairs and nest in cavities.  Occasionally, nesting may include another bird helper, or they may form a community of nests.
Credit:  Wiki Commons

Above, the colorful iridescent feathers and bright yellow beak of the European Starling. During the winter months the starling's beak changes to black.    

Marikay and Jerry compiled an eBird report from our Norwood bird walks!  Here's how our bird count looked.

Apr 13, 2015
US-TN-Knoxville Norwood Elementary School
0 miles
120 Minutes
Observers: 60
All birds reported? Yes
Submitted from BirdLog NA for iOS, version 1.8
1 Turkey Vulture
1 Cooper's Hawk
1 Mourning Dove
2 Blue Jay
4 American Crow
1 Carolina Chickadee
1 Eastern Bluebird
4 American Robin
2 Northern Mockingbird
4 European Starling
1 Yellow-rumped Warbler
1 Eastern Towhee
4 Northern Cardinal
1 Red-winged Blackbird

A big thank you to Norwood Elementary School's After-school Program for hosting the Discover Birds Program!  A special thank you also to KTOS Discover Birds volunteers: Merikay Waldvogel, Billie Cantwell, Jerry Ledbetter, Doug Schneeberger, Christine Hamilton, Susie Kaplar, Phil Kaplar and Vickie Henderson.  Each of the students received an activity book, donated by KTOS.
Links and Resources:

Norwood Elementary 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

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