(A Hess Academy Camp Experience)
A Letter to Campers
Hello Citizen Ornithologists,
Are you ready to use your phenomenal observation skills to save the world? I thought so. In Birdwatching camp, we will be learning all about how observing birds in our environment help scientists better understand the natural world. You will be provided with your very own blank birding journal and a pair of binoculars. Just because we will be doing some serious research, does not mean there will be no room for fun.
We will also be making bird-inspired art and playing bird-inspired games. If you are as excited as I am and want to start observing birds at home this weekend, feel free to download the app we will be using to identify birds. This app is connected to the Cornell School of Ornithology, and every bird that we observe will be collected as scientific data to protect rare and endangered birds in North America. https://merlin.allaboutbirds.org/ I cannot wait to "bird" out with your kiddos! Much Love, Nicole
The first two days of bird watching camp have gone amazingly well! On day one, we talked about migration and our own migration stories, then tracked migration patterns of different birds using a world map. Campers imagined their own migration stories, with one camper tracing a flight route all the way from Antarctica! Through dramatic play, we explored a day in a bird's life and came up with a list of questions of what we would like to know about birds. We really asked some excellent questions!
Then, we got right to birdwatching! If we were unable to see the bird, we identified the species by sound, looked it up in our field guide, and recorded it in our birding journal. So far, we have identified the following: Chipping Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Pine Warbler, and a Tufted Titmouse. To further explore how birds communicate with each other, we listened to different bird calls and played “Chickadee says."
On day three we learned how to draw birds from ornithologist David Sibley. With two new birds added to our roster, the America Goldfinch and the red-eyed Vireo, we captured them in drawings in our journals, and ventured out on a limb to draw the screech owl! Next up, we dove into our field guides to find other birds to draw and learn more about.
From left: Chipping Sparrow, building a nest, American Goldfinch
During the last two days of camp, we made 3-D versions of birds and explored what kind of species of bird we would be if we could choose. Last but not least, we crafted and painted a birdhouse to live on our campus, a home for many birds and bird enthusiasts.
Pictured at left: The "V" Bird
"The V bird is defenseless. Its main enemy is the fire ant. They are vegetarians. They mostly fluff up their feathers when they feel sassy. They don't fly, they glide. They attract males and other types of common birds because of how they swing around their hot pink fluffy tails!"
While summer camp might be over, the bird watching certainly isn't! These campers will be keeping their eyes peeled for the next bird in their sights.