Those Amazing Birds!
By Claudia Kirscher
Liberty Wildlife Volunteer
Birds are not just “eye candy.” They have an abundance of fascinating and unique adaptations such as…….
Falcons have cone-shaped baffles in their nostrils believed to disrupt air flow and reduce the pressure and possible damage of air rushing into the nostrils and lungs. Humans have copied the cone-shaped design to the front of jet engines to prevent choking out at high speeds.
The kiwi is the only bird with nostrils at the end of its beak to sniff for food.
Vultures have stomach acid so corrosive that they can digest carcasses infected with anthrax, rabies and botulism without harm.
All bird body temperatures range from 102-109 degrees Fahrenheit. When the ambient temp is lower than the bird’s body temperature, their high metabolism kicks in along with fluffing feather for warmth.
They cool off with evaporative cooling by panting which increases air flow over moist surfaces. They will also lose heat through their legs and feet by standing in water.
The average man would need to eat around 285 lbs of meat per day to maintain their weight if they had the metabolism of a hummingbird.
A bird’s respiratory system is much more complicated and efficient than mammals. A human’s lungs compose about 1/20 of its body, but a bird’s takes up 1/5. A bird’s respiratory system consists of 2 static lungs for O2/CO2 exchange with 7-12 connected air sacs that expand and contract causing air to move through the static lungs. This creates a continuous one directional flow.
A bird’s feathers weigh more than its bones. The bird with the most feathers is the whistling swan with 25,000 feathers while a small hummingbird has fewer than 1000.
Feathers are attached to skin muscles which help move each feather to help with flight maneuvers.
Bird’s have 3 fingers on each wing. The 1st is the thumb which supports a small part called the alula. 2nd and 3rd fingers support the main flight feathers.
On a bird’s leg, the joint bending backwards is its ankle. Below the ankle is an extended foot bone with toes. Birds actually walk on their toes. The knee is higher up usually hidden by feathers.
Vulture Culture: Be Part of a Cool Cleanup Crew!
By Carol Suits
Liberty Wildlife Volunteer
Vultures know how to keep the environment clean. They are nature’s janitors! Dead and left-over animal parts are yummy meals to them and when they eat them, they clean up the area. Like vultures, you can clean up around your house, your school, and your neighborhood. You can reduce waste, reuse things rather than throw them out and recycle just about everything! Let’s go!
What is reduce, reuse, and recycle all about? This video will help you understand and will give you some great hints on things you can do to reduce waste, reuse things, and recycle stuff!
Did you pick an activity you saw on this video? What did you do? Write, draw, take a picture to share.
If you decide to do these activities below, be a paper saver and use both sides! Be sure to share your work when we meet again.
Here’s a picture to color that shows a bunch of things to recycle!
These two kids are part of the Vulture Culture!
Recycle these letters!
Finish this word puzzle for things we can recycle!
Read a book on the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. This link has books you might like. Did you find one you liked? What did you like about it? What didn’t you like? Share by writing about it or draw a picture of what you liked most.
Is your house full of paper from mail no one asked to get? Or is there mail from places that could be replaced by online alerts? Ask your parents if there is a way to stop some unwanted paper from coming to your house. List the number of pieces of mail you were able to stop.
Does your family recycle newspapers, magazines, and unwanted mail? Check to see if there’s more paper in your house that can be recycled and take a picture of what you find. Did you add to the paper recycled pile? Good job!
Be a paper saver at school, too.
People cut down about 15 billion trees every year, some of it to make paper.
- Can you do most of your school homework online to save paper?
- Save your sheets by using the back, buying recycled paper, and asking your teacher to sometimes switch from printed homework to online assignments.
- Ask for help to create a paper and plastic recycling program in your classroom.
- Start a recycling club at your school.
Document your actions to save and recycle! Write in your journal, make a poster, take pictures of what you’ve accomplished.
Organize a family or community clean up.
Helping the planet can start right on your street. Here’s how to organize your own neighborhood cleanup!
- Pick a location. Is there a road covered with rubbish or a nearby area needing extra attention?
- Get permission and help from your family.
- Pick a free Saturday or Sunday for you, your family, and friends.
- Spread the word by putting out signs or flyers around your neighborhood,
- Go to nearby businesses and ask for donations such as garbage bags, gloves, or tools.
- Send out a date and place reminder to your volunteers.
- On cleanup day take plenty of pictures to post online or share with others
- You might want to weigh the collected trash, which helps leaders make decisions about laws that encourage people to waste less.
- Say thanks to your volunteers!
Start a garbage club!
Parents: If kids aren’t sure where to start, ask them to think through their school day: Do they notice a lot of full milk cartons or foam trays being tossed? Do they see tons of recyclable paper going into a trash can instead of a recycling bin? See the example of Maddie below.
Form a club in your classroom to reduce waste at school. Monitor what’s thrown away each week in your classroom garbage cans and think about ways to cut down on those items. Keep a list or chart of throw away items. How many of each item was there? Were you, your classmates and teacher able to reduce throw away items? If not, why not?
Recycle your food leftovers. Create a compost using food scraps and you will have great fertilizer to help your garden grow! Take pictures of your project to share.
Here are the steps to create your compost. https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/books/article/create-compost
The Plastic Problem!
How are animals affected by plastic? How is nature affected by plastic?
Plastic pollution is harming animals in our lakes, streams, and oceans; but there are solutions. You can use alternatives to plastic and urge your family, friends, and local businesses to say no to single-use plastics. According to one study, over eight million tons of plastic pollution end up in the ocean each year
Plastic left in the environment doesn’t biodegrade or break down into parts that can be reused by nature.
Animals often find trash that’s been thrown from passing cars. Sea turtles often mistake plastic bags for jellyfish!
This gull has single-use plastic caught on his head and in his mouth! Be sure to cut the holes on 6 pack plastic holders do animals don’t get caught and can’t get out of them.
Single-use plastic is made to be used once and thrown away. This kind of plastic cannot be reused by nature and hurts animals and their habitats. And it doesn’t disappear when you’re done with it. Most of it ends up in the ocean!
How can you help solve the problem of single-use plastics?
- Check your trash to identify plastic throw aways in your household and list ideas on how to avoid using things that come in plastic containers. (Things like single-use food plastics, grocery items, household cleaner containers, toiletries)
- You can help by drinking from a refillable water bottle, placing your sandwich in a cloth or a reusable container, and not use a plastic straw?
- Can you and your family reduce any of these plastics at home?
- Make a poster to help others understand single-use plastics!
- Can you spread the word at school? Put up a poster there? Talk to your class about the single-use plastic problem?
- Get friends to help you at school, at your house or at their house. Get your friends to help you share what you did. Get a picture of your group!
- What idea do YOU have to help solve the problem?
- Here’s an example of reusing single-use plastics.
Meet Maddie, who is a problem solver at her school. *
This fall, 11-year-old Maddie Cameron is on a mission. The seventh grader is going to help her schoolmates curb a litter problem on their playground.
“A lot of kids take their snacks out at recess, but there aren’t any garbage cans out there,” Maddie says. Kids are supposed to take this trash home, she explains, but some of it ends up on the ground. So, she’s working with her parents, teachers, and classmates to put recycling and trash bins on the playground.
Maddie watched kids at school and looked for ways to help clean up the environment. You may not find the same problem at your school or your neighborhood but if you watch carefully like Maddie did, you will find something you can do, too!
Nature Journals Capture the Magic
By Gail Cochrane
Liberty Wildlife Volunteer
Why keep a nature journal? One reason is that this special book becomes a record of your nature experiences. You may stop on a walk to sketch a wildflower in bloom or to record the sighting of a hawk or an antelope squirrel. Insects are not beneath your notice when you carry a nature journal.
Sketching a native bee you’ve noticed buzzing near a wolfberry bloom creates a record. By simply taking note you enjoy the discovery of that particular bee (did you look it up when you got home to try and identify?), you know this bee feeds on nectar from this plant, and that the wolfberry blooms at just this time of year.
In this way your nature journal creates a seasonal record that you can refer back to year by year. Do the wolfberry shrubs bloom at this time every year? How many bees were there buzzing around the tiny blossoms, and how many types of bees did you see?
In addition to creating a record of your adventures and the seasonal changes, your nature journal poses many questions. Depending on how interested you are in hunting down the answers, your journal may lead you on journeys of discovery beyond where you walk each day.
Nature journaling helps you pay closer attention. In order to sketch the leaves of the plant, or the outline of that interesting insect feeding on the leaves, you will find yourself really studying the way the parts come together to make the whole. This may bring even more questions to mind!
I like nature journaling because my life is busy and when I come home from a walk, I often start right in doing something else. This means it’s easy to forget the moment I saw the roadrunner sitting in the crotch of the Palo Verde tree, or the coyote that materialized before me on the trail. These are not memories I want to lose! If the events are safely preserved in my nature journal, I can relive those special moments when I page through my book.
Another fun aspect of nature journaling is practicing drawing! Many of us don’t spend much time putting pencils to paper these days, but if you try you will find that you can capture the shape of a leaf or the outline of a perching bird well enough to create a record. I like to label the parts of my drawings as this brings more questions to mind. If you don’t know the names of what you see just leave space to write and come back to it when you get home to your computer or field guides.
There are many great resources on nature journaling online and at your library. John Muir Laws is a terrific personality and teaches quick sketch drawing in online workshops. Cornell Lab of Ornithology also offers an online class on nature journal sketching. Give it a try! Make a simple book or purchase an empty journal and start writing and sketching your own story of nature discovery.