April 21, 2010
- Bird Beaks
- Family Fun
- Upcoming DEC Events
- Long Island
- Hudson Valley - Stony Kill Farm Environmental Education Center
- Capital District - Five Rivers Environmental Education Center and Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center
- Adirondacks - Adirondack Park Agency Visitors Interpretive Centers at Newcomb and Paul Smiths
- Central New York - Rogers Environmental Education Center
- Western New York - Reinstein Woods Environmental Education Center
Birds come in all shapes and sizes, but have you ever noticed the wide variety of birds' beaks/bills? Bird beaks come in a variety of shapes and sizes because they are specialized tools for gathering specific foods. Some are meant for gathering and/or cracking seeds, while others are used to tear meat. Some birds' beaks are adapted to catch fish, and some are used to dig in the dirt or sand for insects.
-Finches and grosbeaks have strong, cone-shaped bills that are good for cracking seeds (like a nutcracker).
-Warblers have slender, pointed beaks used to pick insects off leaves, twigs and bark (like tweezers).
-Woodpeckers have strong beaks with a pointed tip (like a chisel) to peck holes in trees to reach insects living under the bark.
-Hummingbirds have long, tubular bills and long tongues that they use to extract the nectar from flowers (like a straw).
-Egrets use their beaks to stab at their food (like a knife).
-Hawks and other birds of prey have sharp, hooked beaks to tear off bite-sized pieces of prey (like scissors).
-A duck's bill is fringed on the edges to filter out plants, seeds and small animals from the mud and water (like a slotted spoon).
Send us an e-mail and tell us what you think about Outdoor Discovery.
Looking for an adventure this summer for your teenager? Check out DEC's Environmental Education Camps.
Subscribe to Conservationist magazine-New York's award-winning publication with astonishingly beautiful photography and captivating articles.
It Fits the Bill
Has anyone ever told you that you "eat like a bird"? Try this experiment for getting your food like a bird does. You will need scissors, tweezers, spoons, chopsticks or clothes pins, pennies (bugs), marbles or beads (fruit or nuts), toothpicks (worms) and paper cups.
You will need at least four people. If you have more people, divide into groups based on the tools (scissors, tweezers, spoons, chopsticks). Each player receives a tool and a cup. Have an adult put a pile of pennies on a table, and give the players a few minutes to try to pick them up and put them in their cup using their tools. Don't use your hands or scoop them into the cup. Each player or group should record how many pennies they picked up before time was up. Repeat the same procedure with the marbles/beads and the toothpicks. Which tool picked up the most of each kind of food? Do you think that the size and shape of a bird's beak decides what that bird can eat?
A Sweet Snack
Hummingbirds are interesting to watch when they are eating. Their straw-like bill can fit deep into a flower to reach the nectar while the bird hovers in the air. You can make your own hummingbird feeder using a recycled, clear plastic container (like a soup container). Punch four holes evenly spaced around the opening of the container, about half an inch from the top. Cut four pieces of string, each about a foot long. Tie a piece of string to each of the holes. Take the ends of the string, and tie in a knot at the top so you can hang your feeder from a tree. Now ask an adult to help you mix one part sugar to four parts hot water. You can use a red marker to decorate your feeder, or glue on some fabric flowers-hummingbirds are attracted to the color red. Let the nectar cool, and then pour it into your container, and hang it from a tree where you can watch the hummingbirds stop by for a sweet snack.
Read Conservationist for Kids for more information and activities!
Youth Turkey Hunt
Saturday and Sunday, April 24 and 25
Rules and Regulations for Youth Turkey Hunt
The Youth Wild Turkey Hunt is an excellent opportunity for junior hunters (ages 12-15) to spend time afield with experienced adult hunters gaining the necessary knowledge and skills to become safe and responsible members of the hunting community.
Youth Conservation Program
Saturday and Sunday, April 24 and 25
Peconic River Sportsman's Club, Manorville
A two-day hands-on program for the purpose of introducing 12 to 16-year-olds to the basic principles of conservation, sportsman education and general outdoorsmanship. For more information call 631-444-0255.
Nature Discovery After-School Program
Thursday, April 22 and 29 from 4:00 to 5:00 PM
As spring arrives in the northern hemisphere, the days grow longer, and each brings something new. Buds begin to open, and leaves unfurl, migratory birds return, and animal babies show their faces to the world. For school-aged children and their caregivers.
Guided Nature Walk
Saturday, April 24 at 10:00 AM
The ice and snow has melted, the buds are beginning to swell, and hibernating animals are waking up and on the move. Can we find any of them?
The Walk of Youth
Saturday, April 24 at 2:00 PM
Take a hike with a Stony Kill educator to watch for and learn about new spring arrivals and their early stages of life. We'll see young plants sprouting and recently born animals exploring their new surroundings. Join us at the Manor and dress appropriately for the weather.
Earth Day Celebration
Sunday April 25 from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM
It's the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, which brought attention to the need to clean up and protect our air, water and land. It's also the 40th anniversary of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Stony Kill will honor these legacies with fun environmental and nature related games, crafts and other activities for children and their families.
Thursday, April 22 at 7:00 PM
Join us for the Hudson Mohawk Bird Club's annual woodcock survey. For several decades, changing land-use practices and other factors have had a significant effect on woodcock throughout the eastern seaboard. But they're doing fine at Five Rivers. Come see for yourself!
Spring Peeper Survey
Friday, April 23 at 7:00 PM
Peepers may be the smallest of frogs, and they are the noisiest! This inventory of our smallest frogs is an official Frogwatch sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation. Bring flashlights and wear shoes that can get wet.
Earth Day Festival
Saturday, April 24 at 1:00 to 4:00 PM
Join us for an afternoon of hands-on activities and exhibits in celebration of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.
Friday, April 30 at 7:00 PM
The snipe hunt is one of America's most celebrated forays into futility. Join us as we search field and fen for a rumor of snipe, the whisper of woodcock and other things that go bump in the night. Bring your own "snipe trap" and dress for outdoor fun.
Leave it to Our Beavers
Saturday, May 1 at 10:00 AM
Every spring, beavers do "home improvement" on their dams and lodges. On this walk, we'll see what they've been up to along the Beaver Tree Trail.
A Stream Runs Through It
Saturday, May 1 at 2:00 PM
How did the stream get down there in that steep valley? The evolution of a stream will be explored along the Vlomankill Trail.
Terrific Turtles of the Pine Bush
Saturday, April 24 from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
We will start inside with a presentation to learn which turtle species live in the Pine Bush, how to identify them, examine our Discovery Center turtles and if weather permits, will hike to a vernal pond to observe turtle behavior in their own habitat.
Adirondack Park Agency Newcomb Visitors Center
Birds and Woodland Wildflowers
Saturday, April 24 at 1:30 PM
Guest Naturalist Peter O'Shea will lead a walk on one of the VIC trails, as he looks for birds and early spring woodland wildflowers. Call -518-582-2000 to register
Adirondack Park Agency Paul Smiths Visitors Center
Fish Hatchery Tour
Saturday, April 24 from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Ed Grant of the NYS DEC will host a visit to the Lake Clear Fish Hatchery. This program will begin at the fish hatchery. Call 518-327-3000 for directions.
Saturday, April 24 at 7:30 PM
Croak! Peep! Snore! Quack! Listen to the choir of frogs and discover the songs of various species as we search for them around the marsh. Wear boots and bring a flashlight!
Saturday, May 1 from Noon to 4:00 PM
Come celebrate the earth with fun music, games, demonstrations and cool exhibits. Take home a tree or shrub for your yard.
Advance registration is required. Call 716-683-5959.
After School Escape
Thursdays, April 22 and 29 at 4:30 PM
Enjoy a one-hour program for kids featuring a different, fun, outdoor activity each week. For children in grades K-5. No registration is required.
Insect Home Hunt
Friday, April 23 at 10:00 AM
Bring your detective skills as we search the woods for webs, galls, cocoons and other homes. For children age 6 and older.
Saturday, April 24 at 10:30 AM
Come out to The Woods, and learn all about frogs and toads through activities and crafts, along with a critter hunt. For children ages 4 to 8.
Full Fish Moon Walk
Wednesday, April 28 at 8:30 PM
Join us for a walk on the night of the full moon. Bring binoculars and flashlights if you have them. Advance registration required; call 716-683-5959 to sign up.
Saturday, May 1 from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Bring your rakes and shovels for our annual trail clean-up. This is a great opportunity to fulfill community or scout service hours and for volunteers of all ages to help prepare our trails for spring. Advance registration required; call 716-683-5959 to sign up.