Week 5 – Owls & Adaptations

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A Barred Owl, from http://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/barred-owl

We frequently hear owls around here, Barred Owls in particular, and especially in the late evening and early morning hours. The name Owl Woods stems from the presence of these amazing birds in the surrounding forest, and the wisdom, intuitive knowledge, and magic they symbolize. The owl calls or “hoots” we typically hear and associate with the animals are just one of many vocalizations owls may use to claim and protect their territory, ward off predators, or otherwise communicate with their nocturnal comrades.

To begin our afternoon, we gathered on stools and benches to talk about what we know about owls.  We learned more about their many colors and sizes, and the special qualities and uses of their eyes, ears, wings, feathers, beaks, heads, and talons.  We examined the fur and bones packed together in a real owl pellet.  And then, because no one wants to sit still for too long, we split into our groups to talk about other animal adaptations and explore the woods.  Each group also stopped by an “adaptation station” where we tried on animal ears and noses and talked about how those different animals use their unique qualities (elephant trunks, mouse whiskers, camouflaged fur, speed, size, etc.) to their advantage.

While exploring the woods, one group found a stick shelter the children have been building and continued construction.  They took turns practicing with a handsaw to trim dead branches and hemlock bows and then added them to the shelter.  The other group ventured to the apple orchard to find tracks, since the apples are a source of food for deer, squirrels, birds, and many other animals. They found a few trails made by deer, identified some tracks, and saw some geese fly overhead.

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The groups reconvened to reflect on our adventure. Some of the children had drawn animal tracks and had the group try and guess what animal they were. We finished the afternoon playing in the backyard, a time with few directions that the children all seem to enjoy!

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PS – Our pictures are somewhat limited, by choice. Documenting our adventures certainly is fun, but constantly taking photos is a distraction from the discovery at hand.

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