Tuesday, December 8, 2015


Rats.  I keep checking the radar and it seems as though halfway through our walk, the rains are predicted to show up.  Sorry to do this but cold rainy walks are not a fun time, and the birds tend to agree.  Happy Holidays Bird Nerds!

Next opportunity for Tuesday Tweets: 1.12.16  $2Members/$4Non-members
Happy Holiday Birding!

Friday, December 4, 2015

12.4.15 - Wixon Innovation School - For The Birds Enrichment Class

We lucked out with the weather once again and we even had some warming sun on our side today as we ventured outside.  For whatever reason, we are still not seeing and hearing as many birds as I did with this class in the spring - which I suppose makes sense. Many species, though non-migratory, are finding food elsewhere and the school yard is just not as busy in the feather department!  Occasionally we do see someone fly over, like a bonus bird!  Today there was a Herring Gull for instance.  We did see, but mostly heard, some Black-capped Chickadees in the tall pitch pines on the edge of the school yard.  I'm waiting for some of the vegetation to clear a little more before we head into the woods behind the school.  Today's focus was on leaves.  WHY?  I asked the young bird nerds some questions about the value of trees in relation to birds.  Their answers: shelter, shared habitat, helps with food.  Perfect answers.  We also discussed photosynthesis and the importance of plants and how they relate to human survival and existence as well.  They knew that the trees and the plants make the air we breathe.  They are the source of wood for building our shelters/homes & making paper products that we use, and hopefully responsibly recycle.  There were many excellent observations about trees and leaves and plants and discussions about why they are vital as a facet in a healthy ecosystem.  I am pressing the leaves so that we can use them for future indoor classes on rainy days... and these students are so inspiring, they'll more than likely come up with another use for our pressed leaves as well!  (double click photos to enlarge)

Our List:
Black-capped Chickadee
Herring Gull

Ready to press!

Finding different species of oak leaves

Comparing similarities and differences in the leaves

Hidden treasure on an oak leaf

Pressing the leaves

Grasshopper found!

Grasshopper appreciation

Oak leaf bouquet

Collecting leaves

Turkey Tail fungus
(studies have shown this fungi to be of use in treating some cancers)

Turkey Tail fungus

Searching for the Black-capped Chickadees

Happy Birding young Bird Nerds!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

12.1.15 Cape Cod Museum of Natural History - Tuesday Tweets - John Wing Trail

Another sunny day, another bird walk...though we didn't get too many long looks at too many birds on this pretty walk.  Sometimes a bird walk transforms into a nature walk, and the birds' songs and calls provide a natural sound track.  We were able to get some brief and flighty views of Yellow-rumped Warblers, though I'm afraid not every caught much more of a "flying across the trail" glimpse.  Sneaking up on them proved to be challenging on this particular day.  I felt like staying on the woodsy trail as well.  An hour can certainly be a tease particularly when you felt pulled in 2 different directions, Cape Cod Bay and the loop of the John Wing Trail.  We did have some quickie peeks at a Red-tailed Hawk and even a Great Blue Heron (tough to beat that!).  The American Goldfinches were singing to us as they foraged, though mostly out of sight. At the very end of the walk as I was about to say goodbye & 'til next Tweets, we did get to see and hear, a Downy Woodpecker, American Robin & a White-breasted Nuthatch, though I have no decent photos to prove ANY of this!  My arms, eyes and lens were NOT quick enough on the draw, though the whole walk, we seemed to have limited views!  Guess you had to be there!   (double click photos to enlarge)

Our List:
House Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Black-capped Chickadee
American Crow
Red-tailed Hawk
Great Blue Heron
Yellow-rumped Warbler
American Goldfinch
Northern Flicker
House Finch
Northern Cardinal
Downy Woodpecker
American Robin
White-breasted Nuthatch

Found feather

I couldn't even get a decent photo of a House Sparrow today!  

Next opportunity for Tuesday Tweets: 12.8.15 9:30am $2Members/$4Non-members
Happy Birding!

Friday, November 20, 2015

11.20.15 - For The Birds Enrichment - Wixon Innovation School - Dennis, MA

When I lead bird walks, rain cancels any scheduled walks.  This morning was cold, rainy & dark, so I had been prepared with an indoor activity for the Wixon Bird Nerds.  I understand that 9, 10 & 11 year olds would much rather RUN around than walk around, particularly during the last class of the school week.  I get it.  Who isn't ready to let loose by 2pm on a Friday anyway?  They love Toxic Tag and of course we'll play that again.  Today I had a lesson plan based on bird nests.  In the spring, I attended a fantastic bird workshop at Clark University in Worcester through MITS (Museum Institute for Teaching Science).  One of the many fun & interesting activities I participated in was nest building.  Birds are engineers, and when I present my Birdwatching For Beginners class, I pass around some bird nests that people have donated to the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History to illustrate that concept.  Imagine a bird's nest you've seen on a tree branch or one on the ground.  Now imagine constructing that nest with your feet and your face.  That's what they do.  Some nests are SO elaborate with the materials they incorporate!  Tennis rackets have been featured in the Osprey nest behind CCMNH, as well as Barbie dolls!  Our avian friends are resourceful and they will use trash & other discarded materials un-natural materials along with natural materials if they feel it will support their precious egg(s).  It's all about making more...birds that is.  Nests are REMARKABLE.

Nest building was our objective today, as you might imagine... I brought along a fan to test the final constructions in "wind", thinking we'd be indoors.  Turns out I didn't even need the fan because I decided to take this activity outdoors.  The natural breeze did the trick on testing the sturdiness of their creations and THEY WERE INTO IT!  Please view the photos below so you can see their hard work!  These students were amazing today with their willingness to cooperate with one another, not only as separate pairs, but also as a group...of bird nerds. They were so focused and thoughtful (and quiet!!!) and we talked about what kinds of materials the birds might use, and which bird might use what. I brought along yarn, pieces plastic bags, cut up old socks, shredded news paper, & cardboard rectangles and cardboard tubes for duct-taping together for the bases to hold the true branches.  I collected "eggs" (rocks) from around the edges of the school yard to be placed in the nests when they were completed.  Some of the eggs were even decorated!  One nest even got a fun tire swing installed on a nearby branch!  All thoroughly enjoyed this activity!  Some students were missing enrichment today because they had been at the fifth grade seashore trip (NEED Academy) this past week, an INCREDIBLE opportunity for 5th graders in the D-Y district!  I asked if those present if they'd enjoy revisiting this project another time, perhaps on another rainy day so that every Bird Nerd in this enrichment class can have an opportunity to test their engineering skills by nest building like the birds. They agreed. These students are an inspiration!  (double click photos to enlarge)

Getting to work, making the bases and gathering materials

Working together

Team work!

Imagine the focus on a Friday afternoon... 
their dedication was impressive!

Dedication and determination

The nests needed to support 3 "eggs" each

Decorated "eggs"

Focused collaboration

Tricky business

Proud nest builders!

Smiling engineers

This nest's nearby branches got a tire swing installed!

Working together is rewarding!

Another proud pair!

Bird Nerds with their accomplished nests

Happy Birding Young Bird Nerds!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

11.17.15 - Cape Cod Museum Of Natural History - Tuesday Tweets - John Wing Trail

Brewster, MA

Here comes the chill!  We had a sea breeze to contend with, but nothing too terrible.  Sunny skies were above and we had our share of sightings and sounds this morning!  I can't remember the last time we spotted a House Finch during Tuesday Tweets, so that was a nice find this morning.  Turns out American Goldfinch seemingly cannot get enough of those juniper berries!  As we were walked the rocky, root laden meadow trail toward the beach, something surprising and spectacular caught my eye... a White-tailed Deer - all alone.  She seemed equally curious of us and we had a nice long 400feet apart stare down, then she hopped down into the safety of a salt panne in the marsh.  It was a moment of peace and beauty - and how can you beat starting a chillly November morning?  I really couldn't say.  Thanks for joining me Bird Nerds!  It's a treat having you along for the walk (double click photos to enlarge. Photo credits to Rick as noted)

Our List:
Black-capped Chickadee
House Sparrow
Blue Jay
American Crow
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Hawk (Red-tailed juvenile?)
House Finch
American Goldfinch
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
American Robin

Bonus Mammal
White-tailed Deer (!!!)

House Sparrow - male

Blue Jay (photo credit: RICK)

Does it call to you too?

Deciduous Holly (I believe)

American Goldfinch - male

American Goldfinch - male

American Goldfinch - male (photo credit - RICK)

Bird Nerds checking out the House Finch and the American Goldfinch

Black-capped Chickadee... chickadeeing on a pitch pine branch

Cape Cod Bay in November

Nest box on the marsh - inhabited typically by Tree Swallows in the summer,
and occasionally by Eastern Bluebirds

There she is...

I know it's blurry, but it looks like a painting to me

(photo credit - RICK)

The mud puddle, looking peaceful & pretty

So many Cape Cod Bay colors

Crow tracks

Natural artistry, beach grass ballet I call it, the 
circular patterns the grass, wind & sand make together

Camouflage... can you see him?

Northern Cardinal - male (photo credit - RICK)

American Robin - juvenile

American Robin - juvenile

John Wing Trail heading southward, back towards the marsh

Next opportunity for Tuesday Tweets: 12.1.15 9:30am $2Members/$4Non-members
Happy Birding!