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!

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