The Secret World of Owls
In early October, shortly after moving into our new apartment, I started noticing an even-toned trill coming from outside my bedroom window beginning around 9pm. Having worked with birds quite a bit in the past, I knew immediately what I was hearing, a robin sized bird called the Eastern Screech Owl.
This little owl would trill and whinny every night from somewhere in my backyard. Even though I've still been unable to actually spot this bird, I had the idea of introducing my aftercare students to this group of birds who live amongst us day and night, but who are rarely seen.
Rocky Mountain Raptor Program
On Thursday Carin Avila, Rocky Mountain Raptor Program's (RMRP) Education Director, along with three volunteers, brought three live owls to our Mountain Sage Aftercare Program! She explains that RMRP is a rehabilitation program for raptors, founded by a vet club here in Fort Collins back in 1987. Each year they see about 300 injured wild raptors and 80% of those are rehabilitated and released back into the wild.
What Is A Raptor?
Carin started us off by asking the class "What is a raptor? What makes a bird a raptor and not a song bird?"
Ashlyn raises her hand, "Um, raptors have gripping claws."
Jaymison raises his hand, "Don't they have a curved hooked bill?"
Malu raises his hand, "They have sharp talons!"
Carin explains that the gripping talons, and the hooked beak are what make this group of birds unique as raptors. Students raise their hand to give examples of raptors: Bald Eagle, Cooper's Hawk, American Kestral, Snowy Owl, Osprey, Turkey Vulture. Carin explains that even thought RMRP still treats turkey vultures, they are not technically raptors because they do not have the gripping feet.
I highly recommend working with the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program if you have the chance. Carin and her volunteers did an amazing job! The presentation was incredibly informative and very easy to digest. Carin included excellent environmental messages in her presentation such as how turning the lights off when you leave a room can help protect precious wild owl habitat because using less electricity requires using less carbon, carbon comes from the earth, in other words, from owl habitat.
Miss Harris and the students who attend Mountain Sage's outdoor inspired Aftercare Program chose to raise money for the Monarch Butterfly, a species whose numbers are suffering due to loss of habitat. The students conducted research and discovered that Monarchs rely solely on the milk weed plant to complete their life cycle.
To help the species, the aftercare students finger knitted small butterfly decals, and collected milkweed seeds down by the river and stuffed them into hand made decorated seed packets. The butterfly decals and seed packets were available for donation at this year's Harvest Festival in hopes that families would spread the milkweed seeds in their backyards creating valuable habitat for the Monarchs.
The aftercare students set a goal to raise $30 and with the help of our generous and caring Mountain Sage families, the students exceeded their goal, raising $36.91!!
The money will be sent to the National Wildlife Federation who will use the money in a way that best supports the species. In return, the aftercare students will receive a symbolic "certificate of adoption", a plush monarch butterfly toy, and an informative poster.
Thank you to everyone who helped save the Monarchs at this year's Harvest Festival! The children are incredibly proud of themselves for surpassing their goal!
With love and thanks,
Miss Harris & the Aftercare students
Take a Child Outside Week is an annual event designed to encourage parents, teachers, & guardians to spend time with children in a natural environment.
Some ideas include:
If you live in Northern Colorado, spend time in any of these amazing natural spaces!
See how we are celebrating Take A Child Outside Week
How will you celebrate!!??
On our first day of Aftercare we wandered down to the nearby Fairy Woods to explore. Almost immediately, the children spotted this female praying mantis laying eggs. The perch she chose was part of a wooden structure the children built to play in last year, so the children moved her branch to a safer location. The eggs will over winter here, and the nymph mantids will hatch in early spring. The children are excited to be able to check on (and guard) the eggs until they hatch!
“The physical exercise and emotional stretching that children enjoy in unorganized play is more varied and less time-bound than is found in organized sports. Playtime—especially unstructured, imaginative, exploratory play—is increasingly recognized as an essential component of wholesome child development.”