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It’s Dinner Time!

2015 March 2
by Braulio Castillo

Food! Eating! Taste! Cuisine! All of these aspects of your daily feeding habits obviously vary from person to person. While some people like spicy food, others like the sweet stuff. The texture of meat might be pleasing to some, while a nice juicy fruit is a whole lot more appetizing to others. If such variations in taste exist between the cuisines of a single species (us humans) then one can only begin to imagine the variety in alimentary habits that exists between different species.

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A Great Blue Heron awaiting by the marsh, Photo courtesy of Barry Wallace, ON, CANADA

Flight style, beak shape, hunting technique, and food storage all vary from bird species to bird species. Birds such as the albatross that need to cover large areas while using as little energy as possible, developed a wing shape that allows them to glide on minimal air currents. To open hard seeds some birds developed thick strong beaks, while other birds developed thinner, finer beaks in order to open mostly smaller, softer seeds.  Hunting techniques vary as demonstrated by egrets and herons that slowly and silently stalk their prey in marshes until they quickly jab at their victims. Other birds’ pursuit of different prey can lead to capture on a tree, the ground, or even mid-flight!

AMERICAN-ROBIN

An American Robin feeding its young, Photo courtesy of Mike Conley, MO

A fascinating example of interesting eating habits and customs is one of our focal species, the American Robin. This infinitesimally interesting bird eats different foods depending on the time of the day; earthworms being its morning food, and fruit being its evening nourishment. The fruit is actually a huge staple of its diet in the fall and winter, even becoming intoxicated if it happens to exclusively eat honeysuckle berries. The American Robin will also use its crop (its expandable esophagus), in order to store fruit on a cold winter night.  Interestingly, other birds have developed additional techniques such as carrying small prey in pouches under the tongue or in the throat. The fascinating American Robin becomes even “curiouser and curiouser” as one individual Robin has even been observed to defend a fruiting crabapple tree against fifteen Cedar Waxwings (which happens to be another of our focal species)!

To learn more about how to plant and take care of these plants in containers in order to feed birds and make your neighborhood a prettier place, visit our page by clicking here.

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An American Robin hanging out on a berry tree, Photo courtesy of Cynthia Brandenburg, IL

A nurturing environment & safe haven with Casa del Tunel, Tijuana

2014 December 15
by Laura Pineda-Bermudez
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Courtesy of Casa del Tunel

A fantastic program was hosted by Casa del Tunel in Tijuana, Mexico in August. There was also a wonderful program with Casa del Tunel’s sister organization, WorldBeat Cultural Center happening simultaneously. This is the second year there is a bi-national  program within the two organizations with a very similar curriculum. What better way to learn about nature than by being outside? Kids of all ages spent time outdoors interacting with group leaders in fun and engaging hands-on activities.

 

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Courtesy of Casa del Tunel

In Casa del Tunel, there was a a strong focus on introducing local and cultural traditions through fun and enriching activities. Most of the children and adults participating are from El Cañon de Los Laureles in Tijuana, a neighborhood that faces ecological and economic challenges. They are exposed to violent environments with little connection to nature. This summer camp served to open their eyes and educate the kids on the importance and beauty of the natural environment around them. The children also explored dance and yoga while also learning healthy eating habits. During the lunch breaks, the kids were able to eat food that had been grown directly from their very own class garden. Overall, this summer camp was an enriching experience for both the children participating and all members the surrounding community who were involved.

 

 

Courtesy of Casa del Tunel

Courtesy of Casa del Tunel

During the program, the children were able to help out in Tijuana’s International Peace Garden. With so little places for birds in the city local and urban birds have come to visit the garden. The locals, many of which have never been so close and connected to nature, have been immensely moved by the transformation. Also, the excitement in the community has been unreal. Local birds are not the only inhabitants to the garden! Many migratory bird and butterfly species have become frequent fliers in the area. Some Funky Nests have even been spotted within the garden!!

 

 

 

If you want to learn more about Casa del Tunel’s events and activities, please visit the Facebook page here.

For more pictures on Casa del Tunel’s  summer adventures, check out the photo gallery below!

Inspiring Bird Art Through Haiku

2014 December 10
by Constanza Arévalo

Inspiration for creating art can be found just about anywhere. Sometimes all we need to become inspired is to take just a minute to thoughtfully observe our surroundings, absorbing the beauty that both nature and city life hold. Recently, we came across the bird-inspired haiku of the late Sydell Rosenberg (1929-1996). Though a native of New York City, Sydell found inspiration in the small nature-filled moments of her daily life, which resulted in beautiful yet simple haiku that often possess a touch of her urban environs as well. In addition to writing poetry, Sydell wrote short stories and even a novel. She was a charter member of the Haiku Society of America, founded in 1968 in New York City, and taught both public school and English as a second language.

Sydell’s sweet haiku were brought to our attention by her daughter, Amy Losak, who uses her mother’s haiku to help inspire others to create their own art. Haiku is an ancient form of Japanese poetry. In English it is usually characterized by a total of seventeen syllables contained within three lines of five, seven, and five syllables respectively- but it’s also fine to deviate from this format. It’s easy but can also be challenging! Recently Sydell’s bird haiku have been used in several visual art and music workshops for second graders, conducted at an elementary school in the Bronx, New York. Her partner in the development of these programs is Arts for All.

If you’re looking for a fun project to combine with the patient and attentive joy of bird watching, consider writing your own haiku- or any kind of poetry! All you need for this activity is a sheet of paper, a pen or pencil, and a bit of inspiration, such as Sydell’s haiku, for your own imagination to take literary flight! However, if you’re looking for a more hands-on project, we invite you to use Sydell’s haiku as a kind of guide to make colorful art. Sydell’s bird haiku, though straightforward in style, are so vivid that an image is sure to pop into your mind as you read them, making this a creative and  enjoyable project. Art projects which use these bird haiku could include painting, drawing, making a collage- or any other form of art you like.

Below is a sampling of Sydell’s bird haiku:

 

Even the starling

European Starling by Len Endy

European Starling by Len Endy

pauses before he jumps off

the sidewalk curb.

 

February: Jones Beach

a lone seagull finds

the beach all his own.

 

 

In a quiet cove

ducks abandon their formation

swimming after bread.

 

 

Crossing the wide sky

a blue jay is held briefly

Blue Jay by Michael Hogan

Blue Jay by Michael Hogan

in the window square.

 

Eleven wild swans

cut their flight in mid-ocean

to rest on a rock.

 

Hurrying to catch

the peacock’s feathers  spreading

in the camera.

 

Are you inspired yet? What are you waiting for? Go, be creative and discover your artistic side or share it with others!