Monday, December 14, 2009

dePaul School: Day 2

More questions today from Mr. Kepler's third grade class at the dePaul school. Let's see what they have for us today.

Q: Have you ever seen an owl at the landfill?

Yes in fact we have seen owls at the landfill. Last summer a pair of Great Horned Owls nested at the landfill in a strip of trees by the highway. These are BIG birds and they are the birds most people have in mind when they think of owls.

These birds have great vision and hearing. Unlike most birds, their eyes are both facing forward on their face. This means they can see in three dimensions much like you and I, and makes them skilled at finding and grabbing prey from mice up to big mammals like raccoons and armadillos. Another special adaptation they have is that their ears are not symmetrical. That means that the left ear is placed higher on the head than the right ear. This allows the owl to pinpoint exactly where the sound they are hearing is coming from and makes them better hunters. You may have thought that those big tufts on it's head were it's ears, but in fact they are a bundle of feathers, or "horns", that owls use to attract mates.

Q: How many birds do you see in a week?

That is an almost impossible question to answer. There are thousands of birds from American Goldfinches to European Starlings to Red-tailed Hawks and more that make the landfill their home. Although we attempt to count them every day, it is not meant to be a total count, but instead allows us to get some idea of how many birds are present and whether there are more or less than previous months and years. So while I cannot say exactly how many birds we see in a week, it is surely more than several thousand.

Thanks for the questions Team Three! Keep them coming!


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