Nature Detectives: All about Nests

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What happens when you have inquisitive children, one nest cam, several nest specimens, and an old English folk tale?  The answer is one lively program that explores how and why birds build so many different types of nests!

The Magpie’s Nest is a folk tale about an intelligent mother magpie who attempts to instruct all of the other birds how to properly build a nest.  No one seems to listen though, and not one bird stays for the entire lesson.  This tale provided a lively opening for our investigation of bird nests.

Next, we took a fascinating look at the red-tailed hawk web cam at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  The pair of hawks are known to their fans as Big Red and Ezra.  Their nesting season can be viewed live, from eggs to hatching, and rearing of their young.  In fact, there are several live web cams where children and adults can can share the private lives of herons, eagles, and peregrine falcons when the nesting begins.  Participants also examined specimens of nests and eggs on loan from Pat McShea at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Educational Loan Department.

We ended the afternoon with our own nest-building activity.  A ball of clay, raffia, and moss allowed the children and adults to imagine for themselves what it would be like to construct a nest of their own.

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