Indy's Blog


Everyone poops!

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.

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Happy New Year!

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 patty@wildbirdcarecentre.org with any questions you may have.



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Visit to St Anne School

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.

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Back on the road again!

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.



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My Favourite Day of the Week

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.

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Children's Festival, 32nd Girl Guides, Grade 7 Students at Holy Trinity

Spring is here! I hear so many birds singing outside the Centre and the babies have just started arriving!

With Patty’s help, we have finished all of the pilot presentations for the new Junior Avian Ambassador program! In total, we have spoken to 546 children who were then so inspired they completed 1276 missions that helped wild birds in their community!! The best thing is the kids just keep doing great things.

I received an email this week from the 32nd Kanata South Guides who have already made feeders and collected donations, and this month they completed a shoreline cleanup in an area where many ducks and geese nest and put together Owl nesting boxes with materials provided by Owle Translations! Amazing job!

Patty and I have also been in touch with some amazing students at Holy Trinity in Kanata. Their math teacher, Mr Fisher, challenged the student to design and build bird feeders! The students started with sketches then moved on to computer or cardboard prototypes and finally, the finished product was made with wood. The feeders were auctioned off and all the proceeds went to the Centre to help the birds! Their enthusiasm even encouraged the daycare at the school to do a bake sale fundraiser for the Centre on the big auction day! It's amazing what kids can do when they all pitch in together.


I have been so busy that I even had to skip out on an event! Patty and a few volunteers set up a booth at the Children's Festival to celebrate Migratory Bird Day! It was so busy and all the children really enjoyed our crafts and owl pellet dissection activity. Catherine McKenna even popped by to learn about the Centre...and look who is providing the awesome backdrop for the photo!! :-)


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Earth Day Event

Where did April go?!?! Did I hibernate for a whole month? No silly, birds do not hibernate! Well, Chickadees and Hummingbirds almost do. During cold nights, they lower their body temperature, and heart rate just like a hibernating bear but for birds, it is called torpor.

I am getting off track… Where was I? Oh yes, the whole month of April was so busy and so much fun! Not only did I get to help deliver 10 different presentations to a variety of Guides, Scouts and classrooms but I also got to participate in an amazing event on Earth Day! In case you missed the event, mark it on your calendar for next year because we hope to make it an annual event …. Go ahead I’ll wait…. Ok now let me tell you about it!


It was a perfect spring weather day and we set up a bunch of large tents outside to showcase some of the activities from the new program. We had some of our friends come out and join us: Nature Canada, Safe Wings, the Ottawa Field Naturalists, Westboro Academy, and Owle Translations. So many people, I counted over 400, came out and dissected owl pellets, made crafts, bird feeders and bird baths and they all brought tonnes of donations to help the birds inside the Centre too!


We even had some VIPs arrive for our ribbon cutting ceremony! Mayor Jim Watson, MPP Lisa MacLeod, and Councillor Rick Chiarelli all participated and said some really nice things about the Centre!


I stayed inside for the event and chatted with people in the resource room but did you notice the big backdrop for the speeches?!? Yep, that was me!!! Don’t I look amazing that big :-)


The whole event was held to recognize the Ontario Trillium Foundation for the amazing opportunity they gave us when they awarded us the Seed Grant that created this whole Junior Avian Ambassador program!




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Girl Guides and Cub Scouts

Oh. My. Goodness. I have met so met so many amazing kids in the last two weeks you wouldn’t believe it… or maybe you would because you know how amazing kids are!

I got to go and visit two different Girl Guide groups in Kanata and a Cub pack in Manotick. These Guides and Cubs are like nature superheroes! In the last year, they have collected donations for the Centre, made bird feeders, cleaned up a habitat and will be making bird nest boxes. They certainly went above and beyond to earn their Junior Avian Ambassador pins!

My favourite update came from Westboro Academy’s grade 3 class that I visited a little while ago. After teaching them about how dangerous cats are to wild birds they were inspired to make their own brochures to educate people about ways they can keep their cats safe from dangers outside while also keeping birds safe from cats! They have so much talent and creativity!!

Keep up the great work!!

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Visit to Westboro Academy

I was warned this was going to be a busy week and boy was it ever! My week started off visiting a Brownie group where we spent lots of time talking about different bird beaks and feet. We also talked about our provincial bird, the Common Loon. The kids hardly believed us when we told them Loons cannot walk….well not much farther than a few feet anyways. They are so well adapted to swimming so their feet are too far back on their body for them to stand upright! Crazy.  

Next up was four different presentations to classes at Westboro Academy. The kids had been busy learning about birds before I even got there! The grade 5 class showed us their perch prototypes to help us with the challenge of finding a stable perch to use in the cages at the Centre. The grade 2 class tried creating their own beak from common tools around the classroom and after the presentation, they picked a species of bird to do a research project about.  The grade 1 class made these awesome looking toilet paper roll birds using basic shapes and the grade 3 class tried to make their own bird nests with materials they collected outside! Once the grade 3s were done constructing they placed their nests outside for the birds to find an easy one-stop shop of materials for their own nest building!

My favourite question was about Violet - the Turkey Vulture that is the Centre’s mascot, the kids wanted to know how bad her taste buds must be to actually like eating rotting meat!? Good question! And Ew. I wonder what it tastes like to her? Hmmm….I think I'll stick to eating crickets and fresh meat.

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March Break

How was everyone’s March Break?  I love March Break because I get to see so many visitors at the Centre AND I get to go out on some adventures too!

This March Break I got to go down to the Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary right along the St. Lawrence River. What a beautiful place! As soon as we opened the car door all we could hear was Red-winged Blackbirds. A great sign that spring is here! Did you know the male Red-wings arrive a few weeks before the females so they can start looking for nest sites? When we arrived there were families packed into the visitor centre all the way to the back door. After the presentation, the kids got to do a Loon mosaic craft, a scavenger hunt and make some bird feeders. For their donations to the Centre and making bird feeders, we awarded 15 kids with Junior Avian Ambassador pins!

 

Next stop was the Humane Society’s March Break Camp. This is definitely the place to meet animal loving kids! These kids also made birdfeeders after we left which is great because all the birds arriving back from migration need to refuel on some tasty snacks.


I can’t wait to see who I am going to meet next week!

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Visit to Queen Elizabeth Elementary School

After months of hard work and preparation, we are beginning to test out the new presentations and activities for our Junior Avian Ambassador Education Program! I am so excited to get back out into the community again.  


Just before March Break, I took a long car ride to Queen Elizabeth Elementary School in Perth to teach two kindergarten classes about the Centre and characteristics of birds! I don’t mind the road trip, I get to look at lots of different things along the way!


It was so nice to see a room full of smiling faces and really great listeners. The kids had lots of fun placing bird and human impact photos on giant habitat posters, then they compared different bird beaks, feet, and wings. Of course, their favourite part was seeing yours truly! To top it all off, they asked some great questions like: why I am always bobbing my head as if I am saying yes? Well, it's because my eyes are at the side of my head and my beak is kinda’ in the way when I look forward so I always need to move my head a little to see everyone clearly.


The most exciting part of my visit was when the class presented me with a GIANT cheque for $500!! They raised all of that money by selling yummy baked goods. That money is going to help a lot of birds at the Centre.


For all of their hard work, we awarded each of them with a pin and certificate saying that they are officially a Junior Avian Ambassador!!

These are the first groups of kids to earn their pin and certificate, I am so proud of all their hard work!! The staff tells me the next couple months are going to be very busy with more presentations and events. I am so excited to have my own blog so I can share all of my adventures with you!


 

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