I’m healing from some minor surgery; it wasn’t too serious but nonetheless an invasion of the body, and any such intrusion leaves one’s system shaken and one’s heart grateful for the precious gift of health! Imagine how the Earth must feel, with the daily invasions ubiquitously seeping into every nook and cranny. The oil continues to gush into the pristine waters of the Gulf of Mexico; so many crushed lives, both in the ocean and out. Will this be the final straw that pushes both the US and Canadian governments to finally recognize that we must embrace alternative energy? I sure hope so.
Here in Montreal, I think I can safely say that we are on our way to summer! The trees are in bloom, the leaves such a vibrant green, its luscious and glorious and I am forever stopping on my walks to gasp at the beauty! So....this Post is Verse 4 of I Saw Butterflies Kissing Today! Who are we going to find in the backyard? It's all about birds this week! And while the three species of birds I am featuring are all quite common, each one has their own particularities! Everything in nature is intricate and fascinating if we just dig a little!
Heard me the cry of a red-tailed hawk,
A big old crow went “cawk, cawk, cawk”!
Listened to the cooing of a little grey dove
As he sidled up to his life-long love!
1. Red-tailed hawk You are unlikely to see a red-tailed hawk in the center of the city, although these days anything is possible! However, if you are close to a large park, or on the edge of town near open fields, you might be lucky enough to see one. They are a magnificent bird to study with an easily recognizable call. As carnivores, they play an important role in maintaining the balance of ecosystems, feeding on small mammals such as rabbits and rodents as well as snakes. Teaching children how to identify these birds helps to spark their interest as they become able to identify them both visually and auditorily; encourage children to keep an eye out for them when traveling, makes the journey more interesting! I love to spot raptors along the roadside. Here is an in-depth Lesson Plan called Radical Raptors
2. Crow Crows and other birds in the Corvidae Family such as ravens, rooks and blue jays, are all survivors; they are adept at adapting to their surroundings, which is why they do so well in urban centers. They are wily birds, not afraid to intimidate others to get what they want, and new studies have revealed how wild crows use Tools. Begin by exploring some of their similarities and differences – just being able to identify a crow from a raven is a start! Invite kids to list some of the variations such as: the shapes of their bills, wings and tails; the sound of their calls; their size; where they live and what they eat. How many different species of crow and raven are there in the world? Here are answers to some Frequently asked questions about Crows and here is another interesting Website that has a research component attached to it. Ravens have long been featured in indigenous mythology and scientists are beginning to discover just how Smart they are!
3. A little grey dove! Just to give you an idea of how many kinds of pigeons and doves there are in the world, take a look at this Website! The bird that I was thinking about when I wrote the song, is the Mourning Dove, a graceful bird, whose distinctive call frequently greets my Florida mornings! In addition to learning about this bird, explore with children why the dove has become a symbol for Peace. Invite kids to draw their own pictures of doves and to write a short story or poem to go with it. Here are some birds that are used as Peace symbols in other cultures. It is thought that Mourning doves are monogamous, and while there seems to be continued discussion about this, watching them perched close to each other on a wire, or rooftop, it's easy to imagine that they share some kind of strong bond!
Here is a short Video to watch with students, showing how habitat is one of the most important ways to identify birds Finally, here's a question - where does the Mourning dove get its name from?
While all these birds are common we would be wise to teach kids about the demise of the Passenger Pigeon. In this fast changing world, even the most adaptable species can suddenly become at risk. Learning how species interact with their habitats is a good way to discover the interconnections of life. This Website has some great links that demonstrate how the red-tailed hawk and other species are intertwined with different habitats.
There are many legends and stories that include ravens and crows, here is one from the Tlingit Nation, simply titled Raven and while I did not find a story about Mourning dove, I did discover that a woman called Mourning Dove was a very interesting Native American novelist!
I hope you all have a great week, enjoy this beautiful time of year when everything is so fresh, well that is here in this hemisphere! Please do feel free to contact me if I can be of any help in your seeking of educational content on nature.
In gratitude for Life and this Earth!
Photo of Close-up of red-tailed hawk
Red-tailed hawk by Derek Ramsey, Wikimedia
Crow photo by American Crow – Wikimedia
Mourning dove photo by