Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Field Trip on Amphibians

We went on a field trip last Friday morning to a local nature center. Local as in ten minutes down the road. It was a field trip for our MOPS group on amphibians and of course I went seeing as how we are doing The Salamander Room.

The kids learned about what amphibians are and got to see a bunch of them. It was neat to see the difference between salamander and frog tadpoles. Plus, I always thought that pollywog was just another name for tadpole when actually it's the name for tadpoles with legs. Interesting... (and I know what you are thinking...yes I have a biology degree, but understand that the program I graduated from was not focused on taxonomy. But look out because I can tell you just about anything about an organism at the cellular level- it's misleading I know). Anyway, these are green frog tadpoles. E11 was taking lots of photos so the naturalist took the lid off for him.

Next, the kids got to do a craft. Keep in mind this was for preschoolers. R9 is always up for a craft and so is I7 so they joined J4 in making a frog puppet. E11 was watching out the bird window and the senior naturalist quizzed him about birds approaching the feeder. He correctly identified them all! Then he was promised a look at a red tailed hawk from up close. Believe me when I say, the morning out was worth it to him in the end!
We went on a short hike around the pond and though I didn't get a good picture (don't bother looking for it here...not sure why I didn't get a picture), there was a Canada goose nesting on top of a beaver dam. She was sitting on her nest! Very cool. This is a beaver pond and you could see evidence of them everywhere. The naturalist told us that in late May if we come to the visitor center parking lot we'll be able to see snapping turtles hanging out at the edge of the parking lot. You know I'm going to have to observe this for myself...
The crowning moment of our amphibian field trip was a look at this gorgeous bird. It turns out that the two naturalists who worked with us are falconers. This is a bird they've had since January. There's nothing wrong with this lady red tail. She has been caught and maybe she's in training to hunt small game.
When she is mature, she will get her red tail feathers that are her namesake. According to the naturalist, she is beginning to molt feathers and grow the new ones in.
E11 was so awe struck that he forgot to take pictures of his own! Could have been a great 4-H Fair entry!

Speaking of which, E11's newest school assignment is to do a presentation on what it takes to become a falconer in NY State. I looked it up already to give him a starting place and I just want to say it's not that difficult. All we need is a raptor cage out back and a small game hunting license plus the usual equipment like jesses and gloves, etc. Then there is the apprenticing with a sponsor...look out Dan. I think E11 is going to make a pitch for becoming a falconer. I haven't found an age limit just yet...E11 said his dad's reaction would be, "NY State might not limit you on becoming a falconer, but I will." He knows his dad pretty well. I say building a raptor enclosure out back would be a good diversion from work and career ladders!

Editing to add that Dan is on board! E11 will continue with his project and we're going to make some inquiries into opportunities for an apprenticeship. I had a feeling this would peak Dan's interest. E11 has loved birds of prey for many years. His interests go hot and cold easily, but birds of prey have remained a steady interest. For his book report for the current unit, he chose the sequel to My Side of the Mountain entitled, On the Far Side of the Mountain. The main character becomes a falconer during the first story. His last report was on bald eagles.

Needless to say, E11 is really excited. We'll see where this takes him.


School for Us said...

What a neat trip - and a beautiful bird! I'm looking forward to hearing more about how you become a falconer in NY!

Tina said...

You always go on the coolest field trips !! Any suggestions on locating cool local field trips ?

Shonda said...

That is very cool! My 14 yo dd is very interested in becoming a falconer! She researched last month. We don't really have room, though. :(

Heather said...

Well Shonda...we will see what comes of it. Now that the PLAY is over, I will have time to contact this naturalist and see who might be willing to work with E11. I will certainly keep everyone posted.