Saturday, August 28, 2010

Field Biology - our first outing

After our first class on Tuesday and a visit to the Hummingbird Festival today, I'm thinking my co-op middle schoolers this year are going to be a trip!  Lively, curious, talkative, engaged, and little random at times, they are a fun group.  I'm getting more and more excited about learning with them this year.

Today was our first field trip together and it couldn't have gone better.  We arrived at the park early, rode the shuttle bus to the nature center and arrived just as one of the nature center staff began talking about the huge black rat snake he was holding.  We learned all about the snake, as well as other hummingbird predators.  Did you know that praying mantises sometimes eat hummingbirds??

Next, we headed to the hummingbird banding area, where hummer researcher Susan Campbell was in the process of examining and banding the first hummer of the day.  When she finished, she turned to Nick and asked if he'd like to release the bird.  Wow!  He was pretty excited.  We all watched as Susan placed the hummer on Nick's palm.  The bird sat for about 15 seconds and then took off.  Pretty thrilling!

Then we watched the entire process with the second hummer of the day.

Susan wrapped the tiny bird in a "stocking" and then...

measured it...

banded it...

let it feed...

and examined it closely with the hand lens.

Then the hummer was ready for release.

The woman who held this hummer for release was so enthralled with it.   We all watched, amazed, as the hummer sat on her hand for about 3 minutes.

After the wonder of the hummer banding, we headed into the nature center to listen to a talk by a Master Gardener on Pollination Gardening, growing shrubs, flowers, and herbs that will attract hummers, butterflies, and bees.  I decided that I need to plant some weigela plants in my garden this fall, for hummingbird attracting flowers next summer!

After the plant talk we met, Dr. JB, who told us about hummingbird migration, the other varieties of hummers that visit this area in the winter, and the feeder he designed.  He told us how he got interested in hummers 40 years ago and shared a bit of hummingbird and bird banding trivia with us. He was supposed to give a later talk, but since we weren't staying that long, he was kind enough to talk to my class before his scheduled presentation. What a fascinating and gracious man!

After all those activities, the kids were ready for a little bounce action!  Gotta love their energy.

How about hummer tattoos....

and, of course, no festival would be complete without face painting.

Isn't she cute!

We hiked back to the parking area along the dragonfly pond trail and then came to the house for lunch and a swim.  I can't wait to hear the kids talk about the festival when we get together in class next Tuesday.


Bonnie said...

That is really cool.
We banded birds on Block Island one year. This takes me back to memories when my boys were young and I was taller than them!

Susan Gibson said...

Aren't His creations amazing. We drove up last fall and found a female hummingbird feeding on the late blooms of my pineapple sage. We must have watched her flit from flower to flower for about five minutes. AND could still see her flitting around as we got out of the car to head in.

I probably won't have any this year as my pa sage is not doing well and because of health issuse I havent been able to do anything in the yard.

Oh well,,,

Also thank you for your post about being more specific in our prayers. If you don't mind I'd like to link to your post from my blog.

Beth said...

I bet the hummers love the pineapple sage.

And yes, feel free to link.