Chirp, caw, tweet! All around Woodend, birds have been making their songs heard, and the Detectives have been immersed in a study to figure out who’s who!
From cardinals to bluejays, robins to wrens, the Detectives have been heading into nature to listen to the calls, peek at our feathered friends, and record which birds we’ve seen.
Equipped with binoculars and tip-toe feet, the Detectives made their way into the woods to find birds and bird clues. Bird boxes dotted along meadow pathways provided opportunities for us to make observations about a variety of building materials. One box revealed a lush mossy nest, and we imagined what the soft interior would feel like. Another was filled with a nest of twigs; “This one looks different!” announced one child. “How did they get the twigs inside?” wondered another.
A pile of fresh wood shavings by a tree snag led us to the discovery of a different type of bird home. Following the clues, the Detectives looked high into the snag and were excited to find two perfectly round holes! A pair of red-bellied woodpeckers were hard at work taking up residence. The Detectives quietly watched, waiting for one to pop its head out and offering the occasional woodpecker call to coax it out. We made guesses about what could be inside the tree, with some imagining eggs, and some wondering what a baby woodpecker might look like!
A different day brought a close encounter with another woodpecker- the pileated woodpecker! As the Detectives quietly moved closer to this large bird, they were able to see its strong beak poking into decomposing logs. What might it be eating, they wondered? Would there be worms in a log, or seeds? Could it be searching for decomposers? Examinations into decomposing logs allowed us to look closely and make our own discoveries about what the bird might be finding.
Inside, we welcomed our own feathered friends into the world and our classroom. After weeks of waiting, our chicken eggs- kept warm in the incubator- were finally ready to hatch.
We watched excitedly as the baby birds made their first cracks in the eggs, and listened to the sound of peeping coming from inside. We were excited as we watched two, then four, and finally five chicks break out of their eggs, fluff up their feathers, and prepare for life outside the egg. With gentle hands and kinds words, the Detectives held the babies and tenderly cared for them, providing food, names, and love.
Salamander Eggs and Babies
The study into birds and their eggs allowed us to draw comparisons between different sizes, shapes, and colors of eggs. Still, they all had one thing in common: their tough exterior that provided protection to the baby inside. So when we discovered a bundle of soft, jellylike eggs marooned on a mud patch by the pond, we knew that they must belong to someone other than a bird. But who? We recalled the animals that we’ve seen near the pond- frogs, toads, salamanders. Could one of these have laid the eggs?
After gently returning one egg bundle to the safety of the pond, we carefully placed one in a bucket and brought it to the classroom for observation. We looked at pictures of frog and salamander eggs and using clues- the presence of a stick and the thick jelly surrounding each egg- hypothesized that we had happened upon salamander eggs. Days passed as we observed the tiny black specks inside the jelly transform into black lines, and eventually what resembled little black C’s. Then one day as we peered into the bucket, we saw them: tiny baby salamanders!
The Detectives celebrated the excitement, looked at the babies with magnifying glasses, and then joyously returned them to their home in the pond. We had seen the life cycle in action, from finding grown salamanders under logs to discovering their eggs in the pond and seeing the babies hatch from those eggs. After a gentle goodbye, we eagerly looked forward to possibly seeing the salamanders, grown, again next Spring.
As the birds continue to sing and as new birds hatch in their cozy nests, we look forward to hearing, seeing, and exploring with them!
Next week we will be ponding!
Weekly Top Hits
The Egg (First Discovery Book) by Pascale de Bourgoing
In The Nest by Anna Milbourne
Whose Chick are You? By Nancy Tafuri
Duck in the Truck by Jez Alborough
Counting is for the Birds by Frank Mazzola Jr.
Songs We Sang
Beaks, Feathers and Wings (Head, Shoulders, knees and toes)
Beaks, Feathers and wings, and wings!
Beaks, feathers and wings, and wings,
Hollow bones help us to fly,
Beaks, feathers and wings, and wings!