Friday, February 10, 2017

Birding in the Bald Eagle Zone

Today is the day we had been waiting for. I had been working on a project to teach the kindergartners about how to read a basic map, and how to identify our winter birds with a focus on Bald Eagles.

It was a beautiful morning for a winter field trip!  Mrs. W. was kind enough to come along and assist us.  We rode on the school bus 30 miles to the Ft. Randall Dam.  A few of us watched for birds on the way and we saw Rock Pigeons, a Red-tailed Hawk and a Rough-legged Hawk.  For some students riding the bus was pretty exciting!

When we arrived at the dam, we drove down the big hill and we saw five Bald Eagles sitting in a tree right by the road.  Soon we piled out of the bus and met two workers from the refuge and the local birder from town.  I had asked them to join us for an hour or so.  We hiked down a bit closer to the water and then we saw more Bald Eagles.  They were sitting in the trees and flying over the water. The tree across the river had 16 Bald Eagles in it.  We could hear and see American Crows all around us.  The Canada Geese flocks kept flying over us.  We also saw Buffleheads, Common Goldeneye, Long-tailed Ducks, Common Mergansers and Herring Gulls.  The guy from the refuge set up his spotting scope on a tripod and the kids got to look through it to see distant birds. Then the guys had to leave and we headed back to the bus.  Then we saw one of the dads walking down the road to join our group.

The bus drove us to the end of the road and dropped us off.  We watched the workers using a backhoe to put the dock back in the water.  Then we hiked down the road going towards the powerhouse and it was a long hike.  We stopped to look over the 2-D map that we had been studying to compare it to the area.  We saw Bald Eagles really close and we watched their behavior.  One was catching fish, eating fish and one was wiping its bill on a branch.  We saw many Bald Eagles and I estimated 60, but there may have been more.  We tried to find little birds and at the end of the trail we finally heard Blue Jays, American Goldfinches, American Robins, and Black-capped Chickadees. 

When we finished the hike we were really warm, so we shed our coats, sat in a snowbank and ate cookies and drank some water.  That really hit the spot!  Next, we headed back to school for lunch.  It was fun day birding with the kids!  I think it was a great experience for the them and it was a great conclusion for our lessons for the month.  I hope it helped the kids to love nature as much as I do!

This was the best way to get a good look!
This was their first time to use a spotting scope.
This was their first time to use a spotting 
scope to see birds.
Mike asked the kids questions about Bald Eagles.

Birding on the Path
An immature Bald Eagle in a tree.
Many people confuse the young brown 
Bald Eagles for Golden Eagles.


Bald Eagles were hanging around in the trees.

The Bald Eagle Nest
Here they are having a cookie break.

Cookies never tasted so good!  
The water hit the spot too!

The kids were pretty excited to see all of the 
birds!  It was a great day!

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