To get students engaged, Green Chimneys Outdoor Educator, Michelle Vasiloff, tells them that birding is just like playing Pokémon, and for most children, that is a great reason to go out and explore: ‘Gotta identify them all!’
Early spring birding allows us to see many of the non-migrating bird species up close and personal. The Tufted Titmouse is one of the most common and easily identified birds found in our backyards. They are medium-sized birds with a light gray back, white bellies, orange flanks, and an interesting identifiable crest found on their forehead that looks like a mohawk! Have you seen one in your yard?
Feeder birds, such as Dark-eyed Juncos and Northern Cardinals, are great when you want a more passive bird-watching experience. However, if you’re out and about, some early migrant birds that are easy to identify are Red-winged Blackbirds and Eastern Phoebes. See image gallery below to help ID these birds.
Sharing a Passion with Students
Michelle discovered birding while in college but wasn’t always able to hear the symphony of birds through nature’s white noise. With help, Michelle learned to break apart the silence and turn the white noise of “outside” into many individual conversations.
“There is something very peaceful about looking at birds and watching their movements.” said Michelle. “My brain never stops, so when I’m birding I am able to listen to three different birds while watching two others interacting with each other and their environment. My brain slows down and I am able to be present in the moment. It’s a fun ability, once learned, and it has allowed me to focus better in my day-to-day life. I have seen birding do the same for our students.”
To enhance the birding experience for beginners, Michelle recommends the Merlin Bird ID app in conjunction with eBird. These two apps allow you to successfully identify local birds and log them into a database to keep track of the species you’re seeing along with others in your community.
With the completion of an elaborate new habitat built by Green Chimneys’ woodshop students, the Farm Science classroom was able to welcome Brownie into her new home. Brownie previously lived alone in her cage in the farm and wildlife office, but guinea pigs do best in larger environments. The new habitat allows her to live in a herd as she would in the wild, with many places to hide and ways to practice her skills. Brownie has always been a social creature, and she has taken over the guinea pig herd but is a very peaceful leader.