Thursday, May 16, 2013

"But I Want A Bucket of Dirt!!"

Yoxana & Ahtziri showing off the miniature greenhouses they made
at Festival of the Birds!

Credit: Meghan Kearney/USFWS
Typically, when you hear a child crying about something they want, it’s for something like candy, a video game, a puppy. But this past weekend at Oaks Bottom Festival of the Birds things were a little bit different. U.S. Fish & Wildlife (USFWS) brought an extensive set of exciting activities and displays for visitors to do and see, but the most popular part of our set up was our mini greenhouse building station.

Cash & Ryder working on their mini green houses
Credit: Meghan Kearney/USFWS
The festival, coinciding with International Migratory Bird Day, was dedicated to the education about and celebration of birds! For our activity we asked kids and families to construct miniature green houses that would grow plants of their choosing. Each of these plants would sprout from seed sets dedicated to attracting specific types of birds or other migrating species, like butterflies. The construction of these tiny greenhouses required common household items: empty toilet paper roles and small plastic containers (as in ones you might buy strawberries or other fruits in).

As each kid hit our table they were eager to get their hands into our big bowls of dirt. The directions suggested putting just enough soil to cover the bottom of the container, but some of our visitors suggested otherwise. One little girl, in tears at having to leave our station, cried out “but I want a bucket of dirrrrttt!” before her parents had to pry her away. If there is one thing you want to see your child crying for, we are happy to support that thing being a pot of dirt!

Jack the raptor visiting Festival of the Birds from Audubon Society of
Credit: Meghan Kearney/USFWS

Around the Fest
Miniature greenhouses weren’t the only great happening at Festival of the Birds. Also in attendance were USFWS bird biologists who lead bird walks throughout the day. On the walks, a Virginia Rail was heard hiding in the trees, a first for the festival! In addition, a number of great local groups were also in attendance. Audubon Society of Portland spent the day introducing some of
their bird friends to the crowds. Hazel the owl and Jack the raptor were both in attendance, but I still overheard a group of girls asking about some of their other personal favorite Audubon birds by name. Talk about loyal bird lovers!

A couple of the great art pieces made by
students of Alameda Beaumont Childcare
Credit: Meghan Kearney/USFWS
Art of the Owls
The day’s weather was warm and sunny bringing out hundreds of bird lovers new and old. Walking throughout the festival I was able to catch a handful of great sights, including Bird Olympics, where you could take a shot at having the fastest wing-flapping speed. I also stopped in to view a wonderful art project titled “WOW: The Art of Owls” featuring art work from students at Alameda Beaumont Childcare Center including mobiles, clay masks and drawings.

To Future Gardens
At the end of the day, our green houses had all been claimed. Seventy five new sets of tiny plants would soon be raised by children around Portland, and will soon welcome all of the wonderful birds that were learned about and celebrated throughout the day. And to the little girl who wanted the bucket of dirt, send us a note, we’ve got one with your name on it!

Check out more photos from the festival on our Facebook page!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Migratory Bird May!

Happy May, readers! This month, May 11th to be exact, we celebrate International Migratory Bird Day. Around the Pacific Region a number of events are happening to celebrate this special day throughout the month! Below, we have showcased some of our favorites from around the region. If any of these are in your area, get out and check them out! If not, you can visit the event map to find an event close to you!

Visitor to the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Festival of the Birds last year enjoying
 U.S. Fish & Wildlife activities!

Photo Credit: USFWS

Festival of the Birds
Saturday | May 11th, 2013
9:00am – 2:00pm
Come spend the day at Sellwood Park and Oaks Bottom celebrating birds and enjoying the great outdoors. This will be a great day full of exciting activities for you, friends and families! Renowned author, photographer and conservationist, Paul Bannick will be giving a talk on his book The Owl and the Woodpecker. There will also be guided bird walks, live music and stories, kids' games, arts & crafts, live birds from Audubon, and exhibits about the birds of Portland!

Volunteer naturalists at Tualatin River NWR training
to provide tours to visitors!

Photo Credit: USFWS
Tualatin River Bird Festival – Oregon
Saturday | May 18th, 2013
9:00am – 3:00pm
Every year at Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, migratory birds are celebrated during the annual Bird Festival. Located just south of Portland, Oregon this festival is the perfect way for Portland city dwellers to celebrate birds! A family-friendly, FREE event will include bird shows, conservation exhibits, food and guided walks for adults and children! Kids will have the chance to build a bee board, bird or bat house or even play migration putt-putt golf!

Toppenish National Wildlife Refuge,
International Migratory Bird Day
Saturday | May 11th, 2013
9:00am – 12:00 noon
Come out to Toppenish National Wildlife Refuge in south, central Washington state on International Migratory Birds Day! Celebrate the migration of birds and their return to the Yakima Valley! Come identify, count and observe bird species throughout the day.

A photo from International Migratory Bird Day 2012 at Marais des
Cygnes National Wildlife Refuge with Operation Wildlife.

Photo Credit: Patrick Martin/USFWS

Camas National Wildlife Refuge,
International Migratory Bird Day
Sunday | May 19th, 2013
Just north of Idaho Falls, Camas National Wildllife Refuge offers a number of activities including wildlife viewing, photography, bird watching and more. During migration up to 50,000 ducks and 3,000 geese may be found on the refuge. Get out with friends and family and see how many you can spot!
Call for info: 208-662-5423

A female yellow-headed blackbird ready for International Migratory
Bird Day at Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area.

Photo Credit: Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife

Leavenworth Spring Bird Fest
Thursday - Sunday | May 16th – 19th, 2013
A weekend long celebration of migratory birds is happening in Leavenworth, WA! Speakers will include John Ruthven (who will also offer a drawing class) and Idie Ulsh of NPR’s “Bird Note.” Throughout the weekend, naturalists will lead bird walks along with many more family-friendly and exciting activities!

Ladd Marsh Bird Festival
Friday - Sunday | May 17th-19th, 2013
Located in La Grande, OR this festival hosts weekend long activities including birding, birds of prey presentations, music, food and more! Gary Ivey, a Research Associate of the International Crane Foundation, will also be present to give an exciting presentation about Sandhill Cranes that use the Pacific Flyway!
Ladd Marsh Bird Festival