Autumn is Education Time!
by Katie Leonard
It has been a very busy several weeks for the MRBO crew! Along with on-going fall migration surveys in the prairies, we have been traveling to a number of education and outreach events. The first of these were two Prairie Day events held at Wah-kon’tah and Prairie State Park in September. At these events MRBO staff operated one of several booths devoted to educating the public about Missouri’s prairies and their wild residents.
In between these two Prairie Days, we had a station, “Wild Birds and Their Homes” at Arrow Rock Children’s Craft Festival. Hundreds of students got to see Veronica banding Ruby-throated Hummingbirds as we discussed migration and providing habitat for birds of all species.
October 8th and 9th were also spent in Arrow Rock, where we participated in the annual Heritage Craft Festival which is for people of all ages. Our booth portrayed the craft of building bird houses. We provided Little Bird Nestboxes from Birds-I-View, which can attract small cavity nesters such as Chickadees and House Wrens. Many kids stopped by the booth to build birdhouses, excited about the opportunity to provide small birds a home in their yard. Many people of all ages visited with us about various aspects of avian biology and ecology. One tie-in to the historic aspect of Arrow Rock Craft Fest was use of painted gourds by Native Americans to provide nesting and roosting spaces for Purple Martins. This species is now almost entirely dependent on human-made housing for nesting. We encourage everyone to be a friend to the birds and provide houses and feeders for them!
October 11th through the 13th were spent in Columbia, Missouri, where we had a station set up at the Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary (CANS). There were many different stations set up throughout the woods, and every single second grade class in Columbia came to learn about birds! Stations had information and
activities pertaining to biodiversity, adaptations, raptor rehabilitation, and food chains. At MRBO’s station, we provided bird-banding demonstrations and talked with kids about appreciating nature, identifying birds, data collection and the skill of observation. We captured and banded several Black-capped Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, Downy Woodpeckers and Northern Cardinals. We also recaptured a Tufted Titmouse that was banded last year at CANS. This was an excellent way to portray the type of information about avian species that we gather from bird banding.
We all had a great time working these events, and are now gearing up for Northern Saw-whet Owl banding and our Images of Hope Event!