Monday, January 24, 2011

de Paul School

It's that time again!  Mr. Kepler's class at the de Paul School will be asking me questions about birds that I will be answering here on the landfill bird blog.  Every year this bright bunch of third graders learns about birds and their unique adaptations.  So let's get to it!

Q: Have you seen an owl, or any other bird with a broken wing?

A: I haven't seen any owls with broken wings, or any other birds for that matter.  There was one time I thought I saw a bird with a broken wing, but it turns out the bird was faking.  The Killdeer is a shorebird that performs a broken wing display when it or its eggs are threatened.  If the mama bird sees a predator, like a raccoon or a snake, she will lay on the ground and pretend she is hurt to distract the predator from the baby chicks.  The predator will focus on the mom thinking she is an easy meal.  The mama Killdeer will slowly lead the the predator away from her babies, and just when it appears she is going to get eaten, she suddenly is cured and flies away back to her chicks.  The Killdeer put on such a convincing show they even fooled me before!

Here is the mom pretending to be hurt with the broken wing display.

She leads the predator away from her chicks and then makes her getaway. 

Below is a Killdeer chick.  The mama bird will do anything, even put herself in danger to save these little guys.

Q: What is biggest number of different kinds of birds you have seen in a day?

A: It is tough to say the most number of birds I've seen in one day.  I usually don't keep records on all the birds I see, but if I did I bet it would either be in the spring or fall.  Most birds live in Kentucky year round, but there are several that are only here for a short time.  During the spring, several species of birds migrate to Kentucky from the tropics in South America.  Some stay for the whole summer, others are just here for a few weeks as they pass through on their way north to Canada.  In the fall all these birds migrate back to South America because they don't want to deal with the hassle of finding food in the snow (or shoveling their driveways!  LOL!).  So I bet the most birds I've seen in one day was either in spring in May or the fall in October.

Q: Have you seen any birds hatch?

A: No, unfortunately I have not had the opportunity of seeing any birds hatch at the landfill.  Bird nests are usually very hard to find and you would have to be there at just the right time to see the eggs hatch.  There is a cool website you can go to if you wanted to see birds hatching from their eggs.  Check out the Cornell nest cam website to see different birds sitting on their nests and eventually eggs hatching and baby chicks begging for food.  Right now the only birds building nests are owls but in the spring several more nest cams go live and you can see Eastern Bluebirds, House Wrens, and even Wood Ducks raising their babies.

Q: Do you like your job at the landfill?  Why do you like it?

A: Do I like my job?  Of course I like my job!  I get to see all sorts of birds that are rarely seen in the area like Tundra Swans, Yellow-crowned Night Herons, and Horned Larks.  It also makes me feel good to know I am helping keep people safe in the airplanes that are taking off and landing over the landfill.  By scaring away the birds I am making it less likely that they will get sucked into plane engines and cause the plane to crash.

 Tundra Swans

Yellow-crowned Night Heron

 Horned Lark

Those were some great questions guys and gals.  I'm looking forward to the next round of questions from your inquisitive minds!


Anonymous said...

Mr. Ankeny, thank you for answering our questions. We did not know about the killdeer and its fake broken wings.

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