Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The one blue bird

We saw a bluebird at the bird barn. We've seen three Eastern Bluebirds. One when Granddaddy was over, who lives in Houston, TX. The other two when it was just me and Jill, my mom, Jill. All three of them are female. This is a picture of a female Eastern Bluebird.

Facts we learned while making this post:
First we listen to the call, of course. Here it is.
They like to live in gardens and orchards.
Its nests are lined with hairs and made from grass, plant stems and pine needles.
They sometimes spend winter in the North.

Clear Skin Post

We emailed our friend Sharon Gill with this question:
Do all birds have clear skin? We asked her because we couldn't find the answer anywhere. Here is what she said:
Birds have very, very thin skin and so it appears clear in most species. Some skin can have different colors - like the skin of vulture heads and I suspect that this skin is thicker than the skin found on the rest of their bodies. Check out some photos of antbirds - ocellated antbirds in particular. They have blue skin around their eyes - it's very neat! Biologists aren't sure why.

Thanks, Sharon!

Here is a cool picture of an ocellated antbird. I wanted to listen to the call and find out more about it.
We couldn't find the call. Oh, turkeys! (hee hee)
Facts we learned while making this post:
It lives in Columbia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, and Panama.
It eats insects and arthropods and sometimes small lizards. An arthropod is an invertebrate with an exoskeleton. We had to look that up.
It has a patch of bare blue skin around the eyes.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Blue Jays

We are writing about blue jays because we saw them outside, but not even at the nature center! Near our sledding hill, we saw five blue jays. Jill had seen a bunch around. We listened to the blue jay call in my book, but that wasn't the call that Jill had heard.
At the bird barn, we looked at a bird book, and we found stuff out about blue jays. These are the notes we took:
--they often mimic the red shouldered hawk.
--If they're from the north, they often migrate in large flocks. Like the ones we saw. We live in the north. Not all blue jays migrate.
--They make nests up to 50 feet above the ground in a tree. The nest is made of twigs, moss and leaves.

When we got home, we listened to the red shouldered hawk call and the blue jay call, and the red shouldered hawk call is the one that she had been hearing.
We found this blue jay call.
We found this red shouldered hawk call.

Here are more facts we learned while making this post:
They sometimes eat grasshoppers, eggs, and nestlings, beetles. Usually they eat acorns, nuts, and seeds.
They are noisy. Oh, yeah.

Arden talks about blogging

Saturday, September 26, 2009

One More Warbler and Some Vireos

A few days ago, Karen (an old babysitter and one of Jill's former students) asked how many fiction bird books and nonfiction bird books I have. I answered that I have a lot of fiction books with birds IN them, but they aren't all about birds. We remembered last night that we have Peep, Owl Moon, and Tango Makes Three. I like those books. Tango is my favorite, Owl Moon is my second favorite, and I like Peep, but it's not my favorite like the two that I mentioned were my favorite. We also just remembered Owl Babies. The baby owls are Bill and Percy and Sarah. I love that book. In fact, I want to read it right now!

We found one more warbler on our list from the bird barn!
Common Yellow Throat
It is a warbler so it eats insects. It lives in marshlands. It has a call like a rubberband going, "twang!"
Facts we learned while making this post:
We found a call, but it doesn't sound like "twang!" like it's supposed to. Maybe it is a different kind
of call because birds sure do have a lot of calls. Here's the one we found.
The male has a black mask that can be bigger or smaller, depending on the bird.
Some don't migrate. The ones that live in the north migrate at night. They spend the winter in Mexico and Central America.

Vireos don't have a very pointed bill, and they don't eat just bugs. They also eat fruit. Their bills have a little hook on the end.

Philadelphia Vireo
It eats bugs, has a yellow belly, and a black stripe at the eyes.
Facts we learned while making this post:
First we heard the call.
A group of vireos is known as a "call of vireos."
It spends the winter in the tropics. In the summer, it spends time in the northern USA and Canada.
It likes to live in woodlands and old clearings.
If it will be found in Philadelphia, it will only be during migration.

Blue Headed Vireo
We took a picture of this bird, but we didn't take any notes. Here is our picture.

Facts we learned while making this post:
Here is the call.
It used to be called the solitary vireo. It lives in forest canopies. The canopy is the top. It migrates to the south for winter.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Last Two Warblers

We are going do the last two warblers that we saw last week. Then we'll start on vireos. Then blue birds, and the rest of what we saw. Then it will be time to get more birds from, like, outside of the bird barn.

American Redstart
We've seen an American Redstart two times at the bird barn--last Sunday and with Granddaddy three weeks ago. (Jill edited--Arden continues to maintain that it was nine weeks ago. He is not often wrong, but about this he is! :))
We learned that it likes to eat caterpillars.
Facts we learned while making this post:
First we listen to the call. We like the call sound at that link, but the picture was more, like, cartoony. We will look for a more real one.
It's nest is made up of leaves, sticks, twigs, bark, hair, and spider silk holds it together. The nest is tucked between tree branches or in shrubs.

Black Throated Blue Warbler
We're not sure why we didn't take any notes about Black Throated Blue Warblers, but we know that it eats insects because it is a warbler. We saw a male.

Facts we learned while making this post:
We heard the call.
It lives in forests.
It migrates to the Caribbean for the winter.
The female Black Throated Blue Warbler looks like the fall Tennessee Warbler which we wrote about before.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

More Warblers and a Cardinal

After school in the back yard, there was a male Northern Cardinal. I knew it was a male Northern Cardinal, because it had a tuft. I knew it was a male one because it was bright bright bright red. We see Northern Cardinals a whole lot in our yard, mostly in the front yard, but sometimes in the back yard, like today.
We also saw one at the bird barn. Since we saw one today, I want to write about the one we saw at the bird barn, too. I think it was a female. Maybe one will fly all the way to the Nature Center, or one will fly all the way to the back yard. And then, they'll mate!

Northern Cardinal
The Northern Cardinal's bill can open up an aluminum band that most birds are banded with. So, the bird banders put on a stainless steel band so that it stays on. The female is brownish with speckled red bill.

We already know what it sounds like but we found a sound for you anyway. Here it is. We think this call sounds different than the Northern Cardinals in our yard and our book.
New facts that we learned while making this post:
It eats seeds and fruit and a little bit of insects.
They live in parts of the United States and in Mexico. They do not migrate.

Before we talk about warblers, we're going to talk about how they do stuff with the birds. This is how they get them back from the nets at the Nature Center. They bring medium and little bags made of fabric that close with a string and they put one bird in each bag. They bring them back in their cars to the bird barn and band them and do a lot of tests and let them out of the window or the door. Cause they have a trap door window in the bird barn. The top of the trap door opens, and then the bird comes out the top.

To identify the bird, first check on the bill to see how long it is for what kind of bird, then they check for the color to see what KIND of that kind of bird it would be, then they look the size. All of this will help you identify it.

More Warblers

Chestnut Sided Warbler
Like all warblers, it eats bugs. The one we saw was fully grown. It has reddish brown side wings, and a yellowish cap on top.

Facts we learned while making this post:
First we listened to the call. You can hear it here.
It has a black mustache stripe on the face.
It breeds in Canada in summer.
It migrates down to Central America for winter.

Wilson's Warbler
We saw a female, but they told us that the male has a black cap on the head.
It has a greenish back and a bright yellow belly.
Facts we learned while making this post:
First we listened to the call. Here it is.
This is a common bird. It breeds in Alaska and Canada in the summer. It migrates through the entire United States in the fall. And then! In the winter it is in Central America.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


We saw a lot of warblers at the Bird Barn. For the next few posts, we'll be talking about warblers.

First we will talk about Tennessee Warblers.
It is yellowy green. It has a black
stripe through each eye. When being held, the one we saw likes to streeeeetch the neck.
Like all warblers, it eats bugs. Its beak is pointy to get bugs and to crush bug exoskeletons (or shells).

Facts we learned about the Tennessee Warbler while writing this post:
First, we listen to its call. You can listen here.
It breeds in Canada in the summer. It migrates down to Central and South America for the winter.
It is a little bird.

This is a picture of a Tennessee Warbler.

Magnolia Warbler
I first saw a picture of a Magnolia Warbler in my bird game. (Jill note: Birds of North America 100 piece memory card game. I couldn't find a link!)
It has orange fat. It has yellow feathers. The one we saw was female because the colors weren't as bright. There is black in the tail. It has a beak that is pointy like the Tennessee Warbler which was before this for you to learn about.

Facts we learned while making this post:
First we heard the call.
And also we learned that it migrates through Eastern and Central United States, and spends the winter in Central America. The last bird went to South AND Central. It breeds in Canada in the summer.

This is a picture of a male Magnolia Warbler.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bird Pictures

Here is me looking at bird fat. Bird fat is pinkish or orange. You can see the fat when you blow the feathers up. Bird skin is clear.

Here I am looking at two birds at a time. Sometimes, in both books, there's the same bird. For example, the Ivory Billed Woodpecker makes a knock knock knock peep peep peep peep in one book. In the other, it does knock knock knock and more singy singing. I like to play them at the same time so that I could hear what a big pack of birds would sound like. Actually, they're called "flocks" with birds.

Rose Breasted Grosbeak

My favorite bird in my third visit was the Rose Breasted Grosbeak. It is reddish under the chest and wings. It eats nuts and seeds. The bird we saw was a male.

Facts we learned while writing this post:
First we listened to the call. You can hear it here.
It lives in woodland areas near water.
It migrates to Central and northern South America.

This is a picture of a male rose breasted grosbeak in the spring. The one we saw was in the fall, and it didn't have as much red.

Kalamazoo Nature Center Bird Banding Program

At the Kalamazoo Nature Center, there is a bird banding program. The birds get trapped in nets that are really long and tall. The nets are all around the Nature Center Property. The research assistants collect the birds once an hour and bring them to the Bird Barn once an hour. Then, they give each bird a metal band with a 9 digit number. They record the species of bird, and then they blow on the feathers to see how much molting and fat the bird has. They put this information into a computer. Then they release the bird back into the wild.
I've been three times to watch the bird banding. The first time, I went with Granddaddy (he lives in Houston, TX) and Jill. The second time, I went with Jill and Jessica (my moms). The third time, I just went with my mom, Jill.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Pileated Woodpecker

Yesterday when we were walking our dogs, we heard a pileated woodpecker. Jill did not know it was a pileated woodpecker, but I did. When we got home, I got my bird book out, and I typed in 76 to get to the pileated woodpecker. Then I pressed play, and the same sound came up that we had heard from the real one. It sounds like this. You can also see a picture. We did not see it, we just heard it.

Facts that we learned while making this post:
We learned that the pileated woodpecker is permanent resident. This means that they don't migrate.
Pileated woodpeckers eat beetle larvae and carpenter ants. This is helpful to humans. They also eat berries and nuts.

In our next posts, we will type up the notes that we took at the bird banding station at the Kalamazoo Nature Center on Sunday morning.

Welcome to our Bird Blog!

Hi! This is Arden and Jill. On this blog we're gonna do stuff about birds to learn more about them. Jill will do most of the typing, Arden will do most of the telling what to write. We hope you would like to read our blog!