Hi, my name is Indigo (Indy for short). Well, that is the name that has been given to me because of my stunning blue head and wings, my species name is American Kestrel and I am the smallest relative in the Falcon family. You may have heard of my larger cousin the Peregrine Falcon? Big, beautiful, fastest animal in the world….. Well, I am just as cool :-)
I have been given the very important job of being the Education Ambassador for the Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre. I get to travel to different groups and educate many people about the Centre and how we can help wild birds.
I am really lucky to have this job because I cannot survive on my own in the wild. When I was a young bird I injured my wing pretty bad. I broke it in at least 3 different places. I was lucky that someone found me and helped my wing heal while they gave me lots of kind attention. Unfortunately, my wing did heal after a long time but not in the right way so it doesn’t work the way it should and I will never fly. The human family that found me kept me for a long time while my wing was healing. After a while, I started to like them and now I don’t find humans scary anymore. In fact, I don’t really remember what it is like to be a wild bird. What would I do outside? Where would I find food? What dangers do I need to look out for? How do I know where to migrate? I have forgotten all of it!!
I have now learned the nice people that helped me when I was hurt did not do the right thing. They should have brought me to the Bird Centre right away so people who know how to fix birds could fix my wing properly. If I was brought to the Bird Centre, I would have been kept with other birds like me so that we could talk about bird things and we would not forget all the important things we need to know to survive in the wild.
I hope all the people that I meet remember my story so if they find an injured bird they will know to do the right thing and bring the bird to the people who know how to help!
Because I have been at the Centre for over four years, I have learned so much about birds and I am learning more every day. I love to answer questions about birds and I am excited to have my very own blog where I can answer your bird questions. So ask away!!!
I have been having a great time travelling around Ottawa visiting classrooms and community groups this month and I have noticed something...someone always laughs when I poop!! To be honest, I didn’t really think much about my poop, it does happen about every 30 mins or so. I have never seen a human poop but from my understanding, you guys only do it about once a day and in a special room. Now that is strange. Well, every observation is a great introduction to a teaching opportunity and if the group we are talking to notices my poop, Patty jumps right in telling everyone all about bird poop biology. Have you ever looked at bird poop? Well, the white part is actually equivalent to pee and the rest of the colour (which varies depending on what the bird eats) is poop! It all comes out at the same time, how efficient. This fact seems to really stick with the children and after we finish the presentation they often come up just to inspect my poop...how embarrassing. There is one great thing about bird poop, it doesn’t often smell too bad, except for those fish-eating birds, ew, fishy. Now, humans, that's a completely different smelly story!
** Note this is Dove poop...I do not eat seeds.
Happy New Year everyone!
I can’t believe another year has gone by. I was a busy end of the year for me with a couple of events that really stood out! I got to visit a number of different classrooms, Guide and Scout groups. I was even invited to be the special guest at Isabelle’s 11th birthday party! How cool is that? As an animal lover, she wanted to learn more about birds and do something to help owls for her birthday. After learning about the Centre, endangered birds and of course spending time admiring me, all of her friends got to help build owl nesting boxes from materials provided by Owle Translations. The girls had so much fun using power tools!
I also got to visit a library for the first time. Wow, those places have a lot of books. Here we gave a presentation about feathers, owls and participate in activities afterwards. I am told there are lots of these libraries around town and I hope to visit more this year!
I started off the new year with a bang too! I was invited to the Agriculture and Food Museum to give a big presentation about the Centre, feathers, and owls. After the presentation, everyone was invited to stick around to dissect an owl pellet, make a craft, and of course admire yours truly. You know I work really hard to produce pellets too but apparently, they are just too small for the activity. It's not my fault I am small! Anyways, it was great to see so many families spending time learning about birds together.
I can’t wait to see where I will get to go and who I will get to meet this year!
If you would like me to visit your group please see https://wildbirdcarecentre.org/Education.html for more details, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you may have.
The day before Halloween I got to visit a grade 1 class at St Anne School just around the corner from the Centre. Their classroom was awesome!! So many nature things and out their window you could see the little nature garden they created. They have also been busy building bee homes and planting trees and soon they will be adding bird feeders too!
We had a lot of fun teaching the students about the characteristics of birds and how bird beaks, and feet are designed for where they live and what we eat. Of course, they all loved me and thought I was adorable. They also were amazed at how I rub my beak on my perch after I eat a piece of meat. I thought this was a bit strange … it is how I clean my beak, like how you wipe your face after you eat.
I’m back on the road again visiting schools and community groups!
This past week I was at Holy Name of Mary Catholic School in Almonte. The students were so excited to see me and hear all the cool stuff Patty had to teach us! We even got to stay a little longer than usual to help everyone with their Owl Pellet Dissection. We got a couple “ewww, you want me to touch that?” but the enthusiasm of others, including one student who yelled “this is the best day of life!” quickly convinced the most squeamish to try the activity. Soon the room was filled with lots of “Cool! Look what I found! I think its a skull! It's totally a skull!!!!” I bet Owls would think it is hilarious how much children enjoy picking apart their coughed up meal leftovers.
My favourite question this week came from a Cub group in Barrhaven, how do I sleep? Well, Patty told them generally I sleep standing up, (the kids were so impressed with my balance skills) then Patty told them I often sleep only standing on one leg, (now you are impressed to right?) and to top it all off Patty told them I often sleep with my head tucked between my shoulder blades! It’s super comfy and I breath warm air under my feathers. I would suggest you try it but your human neck does not let you turn your head all the way around like me… to bad.
What is your favourite day of the week? This summer, my favourite day of the week is Wednesday because I get to go and talk to the children at the Ottawa Humane Society’s summer camp. There are about 40 new faces each week and they all love animals so much. They asked some really interesting questions like, “Why do I sometimes see a bunch of Turkey Vultures circling together?” (A group of Turkey Vultures might be a sign that there is a big meal and they are waiting for enough friends to arrive to be able to eat the meal quickly). They have also made some great observations about the specimens we bring like the Killdeer foot having only three toes. Being in the Plover family, which is a type of shorebird, the Killdeer only have three toes rather than four. Does the species name “Killdeer” sound familiar? That is the species of bird that nested right in the middle of where the Bluesfest main stage was planned. After getting special permission from Environment Canada, the nest was moved to a safer location.
On one of Wednesdays this summer, I also got to go to the new Mississippi Mills Youth Centre for a presentation and an afternoon of activities. We all learned about adaptations of beaks and feet, we went outside to conduct some bird surveys, and ended the day dissecting Owl pellets! What is an Owl pellet you ask? Well meat eating birds like myself eat the entire animal but cannot digest the fur and bones so our bodies form a fur ball that we spit up. If you take apart the ball, you can find all the bones from our last meal! I did work really hard and spit up my own pellet just for the activity that day but no one wanted to use it…. Apparently it's less gross if you let it dry out for a few days and sanitize it.