The week with a good friend!

This week Cara, the intern from Boulder, came down to Alamosa to see what a day in the life of Deisy and Mianna was like. The good thing is she came down during one of our busier weeks. The three of us had the opportunity to go duck banding with an amazing bird biologist. We also had a class from Western College join us in duck banding. We were able learn how the ducks where captured, how to vent a duck, and how to band ducks. During the duck retrieval from the traps in the middle of a pond, I came to the conclusion that I am horrible and balancing myself when I am knee deep in water. I managed to fall four times in the same exact spot. Mianna and Cara simply laughed instead of helping me. What great friends they are, ha:). After a long struggle, Mike came over and helped me finally find my footing. Although walking through water was hard for me, what was even harder that day was venting the ducks. My first try at venting, I got pooped on! I had to walk around the rest of the day with a giant yellow greenish stain on my shirt. We finished off the day by teaching the Western College students how to do macro surveys at the Blanca wetlands. Overall it was an amazing day 🙂 I have such a blast learning new things here. I am going to be sad when I have to go back home to Denver.

The following day, Mianna and I took Cara on a shorebird survey. She was amazed by the large quantities of Wilson’s Phalaropes we had to count that day. There where over 2,000 in one single area! My head was spinning after counting so many birds. After our survey we went home to nap and prepare for our night amphibian survey. As the sun set, we prepared to head out to the field. I was hoping Cara would hear the large multitude of frogs we usually hear out at the wetlands. Unfortunately, the frog were very shy that night. Looks like the amphibian season is over!
I will definitely miss our night surveys, but everything good must come to an end.

1544372_10152333208697532_4437153886635120975_n

10428178_10152333208692532_6345713332628085660_o

10548047_10152333208662532_4112804067918543174_o

Your birds are our birds too, P.II

Let’s recap. Through these posts you have seen that birds are: fun inspiration for games (yay!), way too cute for our good, scientifically interesting, and just ridiculously cool. Did you know, that birds are cultural too?

Woah, I know, it’s crazy. Allow me to explain…

Back in June I was contacted by an elementary school located from a town right outside of Bogotá, Colombia. The request was simple: “Do you know of a school that would like to make contact with us to talk about birds?”

Turns out, there was, in fact, such a school, and that school was right here in Philomath, Oregon. While coming from two completely different schools, countries, and even continents, they had a common connection. What, you might ask? If you can’t get the implication by now, I worry a bit for you, but I’ll help you out: BIRDS! This school in Usme has a neat program where they seek out connections with North American schools based on the shared wildlife. In turn, our Philomath-ian students were participants of the USFWS Shorebird Sister School Program, and have a whole semesters-worth of knowledge about migrating shorebirds. The opportunity was ripe and ready for the picking.

The result: these fantastic videos, prepared by our friends in Usme, Bogotá Colombia and our colleagues in Philomath, Oregon. I hope you enjoy, and take it as a testament to the power of birds to connect people far and wide.

First up: a video from the Eduardo Umaña Mendoza School addressed to Philomath Elementary:

And to follow: the response from Philomath Elementary to the Eduardo Umaña Mendoza School:

 

Family Feathers Community Outreach

MiannaFlyer_eng MiannaFlyer_span

Our festival is sneaking up on us. It is only a month away! That seems far but in reality it’s not far at all. Donations, networking, and getting the word out have consumed a great amount of my time this week.
I was given the opportunity to go out with Portland and do water quality testing on the wells at the wetlands. I was sure it was going to be hard but after the first one I do not think it is an intimidating task. Basically the probe goes into the well or overflowing bucket, it connects to a machine that tells what the pH balance is and every other little detail the BOR wants from the sample. This also includes the metals in the water. Along with the Probe reading there are water samples to take, 4 of them at each well to be exact. That was my job and Portland handled the very expensive probe. We had a lot of fun but finding the wells was a challenge. Some are running and others are bone dry. We were unable to locate some of the wells shown on the map. We also were able to find a few that were none existent on the map. After we finished the ten wells for the day we headed back to the BOR to take the samples into the lab. It’s a magnificent sight to see. There are so many different processes they put the water through to test it. I know it would be such a fun, yet hard job to do. This week was pretty slow moving considering it was mobile work week for our BLM crew however, I know next week we will be back up and running around like chickens without their heads.

Jr. Birding Pt. II

Continuing with my efforts in hosting some local Jr. Birder programs this summer, we had our second activity a couple of weeks ago.  The second activity focused more on the basics of bird ID:

Activity 2: “Bird Identification: Getting Started”
Saturday, July 12th; 10:00am-11:00 am; Bobolink Trail, (Near East Boulder Rec. Center-Trailhead starts off Baseline Rd.)
Learn the basics of bird identification!  We will talk about identifying birds based on their silhouettes or beaks, along with the learning how to properly use binoculars.

Screenshot 2014-07-29 11.07.01

English Flyer

 

Spanish Flyer

Spanish Flyer

While there were only a couple of kids there, it was still great practice and experience to lead an environmental activity.  The two activities I led were: “What is a Bird” and “Bird Topography” which are both free and downloadable from the EFTA http://www.birdday.org site (Links are below the pictures)!

 

 

 

 

 

“What is  Bird” – http://www.birdday.org/2011materials/whatisabird.pdf
“Bird Topography” – http://www.birdday.org/2011materials/BirdTopoActivity.pdf

The pre-made lesson plans helped me feel a lot more comfortable in leading the activities along with the Jr. Birder books that I’ve been using as an additional guide (also found through EFTA’s site).
My only hesitation in leading these activities is the fact I am not an expert birder, and I’ve learned how to handle questions I don’t know usually with a response like, “That is a GREAT question!  Let’s write that down and we can look it up later”.  However, when leading activities for young children, you would think you wouldn’t need to be an expert, right?  In my case, I had 6-year old Owen, who truly is a mini master birder!  While I did teach him some things, such as the bird topography activity and what specific parts of birds are called, when it came to the actual bird walk he really knew every single bird we sighted along with many calls!  He stumped me during the entire bird walk and there were many times he would confirm his bird sighting or call with me and I was not entirely sure on some of them.  Some little kids never cease to amaze me!  It was very good practice in leading an activity with a kid who knows a lot about the material, and I hope he learned something new from me.  For the meanwhile, I’ll try to learn more of the local birds to hopefully stump my friend Owen next time! 🙂 Here are some of the birds that we heard and saw:

 

It’s Been Over Five Years!

It has been a very exciting week regarding the Least Terns! We have spotted Least Tern chicks for the first time in over five years and we have set up a fence within the exclosure to keep the chicks from going out of the exclosure. That will protect them from getting stepped on or ran over by a vehicle because they can be difficult to spot, even at close range. There haven’t been many crows landing within the exclosure either. Sometimes they fly over but the terns are quick to get them out of there.

The chick fence we set up covered a good amount of the nesting terns, but because of a shortage of fence, some terns were left outside the fence. The western part of the fence was made with wooden stakes and a thick plastic that was about three feet tall. The eastern part of the fence was made with wooden stakes and a smaller plastic tied to them. It was a lot of work but we had a few people helping so it went by pretty fast. We will keep monitoring the site and keeping an eye on the fence and chicks.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.