For our first ISLE program of the season we had five boys join us for a week of ornithology themed activities including bird-house building, bird bingo, and morning bird hikes. By the end of the program students were able to identify by site and sound the top 25 birds that call Hurricane home during our summer season.
Some of the birds that we were able to see during the week were Cedar Waxwings, Bald Eagles, Ospreys, Yellow-Rumped Warblers, and Winter Wrens. We helped students visualize bird songs by looking at spectrograms and they were challenged to come up with their own mnemonics to remember the unique songs for each bird. Some standard mnemonics that professional birders use are “witchity-witchity-witchity” for the Common Yellowthroat Warbler, and “Oh Sam peabody-peabody-peabody” for the White-Throated Sparrow.
One of the highlights of the week was a special day trip out to see offshore nesting seabird colonies on Seal Island with local naturalist and ornithologist John Drury. John took us around the perimeter of Seal Island and then we were met by Nicole, a researcher with Project Puffin, who is living on the island this summer monitoring puffin and tern chicks at their nesting sites. Birds that nest on Seal Island during the summer include Razorbills, Puffins, Great Cormorants, Common and Arctic Terns, Eider Ducks, and Black Guillemots. We were also lucky enough to see a Red-Billed Tropicbird, an out-of-range visitor to the area, which usually is found along the Baja Peninsula on the West Coast of Mexico. John Drury believes that this bird followed some Terns and has been happily nesting in the area since.
On our final evening we enjoyed a cookout on the south end of the island and a spectacular view of the full moon rising over the water. It was really fun to watch these students get excited about birding and become talented amateur ornithologists!
Register for our 2015 Ornithology ISLE program here!