Borrego Springs, CA

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Bridges to Birding

Early this morning, I headed off through the fog to get to Doeskin Ranch.  At 9:15, about 100 fifth graders from Liberty Hill, TX, were scheduled to arrive for our Bridges to Birding Program.  There are eight stations set up throughout the ranch area, and groups of about twelve students rotate every 20 minutes through the stations.  Each group is accompanied by a teacher or aide or parent.  You can usually tell the teachers because they are actively working to keep the kids in line (this will be apparent in a later picture :)).

Before the kids arrive, I had to set up my "banding" station which includes getting these plush Audubon birds tangled in a badminton net.  The students will be untangling them and collecting statistics on their catches.

It turned out that the school buses arrived a half an hour early, so we had to hustle to be ready.

I begin by talking to the kids about the tools of the trade for banding and how to properly hold a live bird and take the measurements they'll need.  It's a lot to get done for twelve students in only 18 minutes!

After going through the first four rounds of students, it was time for an early lunch, and break for everyone involved.  :)

This is Elizabeth, the intern, and Paul, one of the volunteers, chatting before the next four rounds begin.

RV volunteers, John and Lynn, are on the right resting with a local volunteer, whose name I don't know.  John and Lynn usually do maintenance duties, so this was a real change from their normal duties.

Once I've spoken to the young folks, it's hard to slow them down!  They really get into the hands on activities of getting the birds out of the net.

Then it's on to identifying their bird.  You can't band a bird without knowing what it is you know.  :)  After they figure out the identity, they have to measure the wing length, tail length, and size of leg so they can use the proper sized band.  This incorporate some math into the station since all measurements are done using the metric system....just like real biologists.

The last activity is involves weighing the bird in the bag, then weighing the bag, and then subtracting to get the real weight of the bird.  That's local volunteer, Liz, who was my helper today.  There is such a flurry of activity at this station that I need all the help I can get to insure each student successfully completes the assignment.

During the second to last group, these two boys were really working hard to get all their measurements correct.  I thought I'd get a picture of them doing the weighing.  The lad on the left saw me take out my camera, so he gave me a big smile and put his arm around his partner.  How cool was that?  Then, when I got home and uploaded the pictures, I noticed his uptight teacher in the background.  Take another look and you will see that she is grabbing his ear!  She wanted them to look like they were working hard, not having a good time.  Ha Ha...chill out teach...this is all about making learning fun!

What a good time everyone (except the teacher in red) had today!  It was exhausting as I knew it would be, but I'm looking forward to doing it again tomorrow for another 100 eager learners.  Field trips like this can be such enjoyable learning experiences for everyone involved.  (of course, I can especially enjoy it because I'm not doing it everyday)  My hat is off to all educators!  You do such an important job.  These young folks are the future of our country.

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later,  Judy


  1. You are so cool Mom! This is a great learning station.. I love it! No wonder everyone wants you to volunteer for them.. :o)

  2. That was funny, interesting and cool.

  3. Enyoyed your beautiful sunset/sunrise? picture! I am a fellow SKP. Solo, been full time for 5 years. Keep up the good work. I enjoyed reading your blog. Theresa