Monday, January 12, 2015

1.12.15 - Cape Cod Bird Nerd Class - Ms.Hitzenbuhler's Environmental Science Class
Barnstable High School - Hyannis MA

It's been a LOOONG time since I was in high school and visiting any high school still gives me a bit of the nostalgic butterflies in the tummy.  I was fortunate and had an excellent experience at Framingham North High School... in the 80's!!!  Visiting Barnstable High School is an eye-opening experience for me, and thanks to Ms.Hitzenbuhler, I get to visit her Environmental Science Class three times this academic year to bring ornithology to her classroom, which means bringing her students - OUTSIDE!  

There was an impending rain storm on the way, which made me concerned about our potential sightings.  We were not disappointed though.  Our list is included below as well as some photos.  A rare moment happened as we were headed back inside.  One of the students discovered a dead bird on the ground.  Sad.  Yes of course sad, but in the same respect, I knew I had a teaching moment suddenly available to me.  I scooped up the dead bird, and identified it as a Red-bellied Woodpecker.  Not all birds' names can necessarily help in identification and the Red-bellied is exactly that.  YES - it has a red belly, but it also has red on its head and some around it's bill and near the top of the breast.  But, woodpeckers normally perch with their bellies right up against a tree trunk - so you cannot usually see that red bellly!  We were able to really take in the beauty of this bird's feathers. I pointed out the lizard like skin on their feet, as well as the unique shape (zygodactyl, X-shaped) of their feet.  This anatomy in woodpecker's feet along with the rudder-like tail enable their specific movements and perching ability on tree trunks and branches.

What's also notable about this particular visit, is that english is a second language for each of these students I am so lucky to get to spend time with.  I was able to speak a bit of my broken espanol to them, which they definitely seemed amused by... I should take a refresher spanish class!  It was a most memorable and special hour I spent with these students.  I look forward to seeing them again!  Gracias Carlos!  Thank you SO MUCH for your photos. (double click photos to enlarge)
Our List:
European Starling
Herring Gull
American Crow
Canada Goose
Northern Flicker
Downy Woodpecker
Blue Jay
American Robin
Red-bellied Woodpecker (deceased)

European Starling on Osprey platform nest

European Starlings

Downy Woodpeckers

Northern Flicker

Red-bellied Woodpecker (deceased) (*CARLOS)

Red-bellied Woodpecker (deceased) showing spectacular plumage

Red-bellied Woodpecker (deceased) showing zygodactyl feet (*CARLOS)

I look forward to visiting Barnstable High School in the spring!  Keep track of your bird sightings and you'll be amazed at what you can see everyday when you are on the lookout for birds!
Happy Birding!

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