WEEK 7: Listen to the language of the birds

Kyle (from Sparrow Circle) and I were pretty fired up about Bird Language after helping faciltate an adult workshop on the subject the week at the Thorne Nature Experience so we decided to join forces for part of the day.  While we were together we wanted to help teach the two clans the five basic voices of the birds in the funnest way we know how – Bird language skits!

The five main voices of the birds are song, companion calling, male on male aggression, juvenile begging and alarm. We would take turns acting each of these out in our best human approximation of bird voices.  The we would question the kids a little about thier interpretation of what was happening before coming back on “stage” with our English translation.   Some of the voices we invited a few of the kids up to be part of a skit and I think we all had a lot of fun with it and learned a lot!

The kids learned that the first 4 voices occur when a bird is in “baseline“.  Otherwise saying that everything is chill and if you are getting to see a bird making those vocalizations then the bird feels pretty comfortable and is not too put off by your presence.  When an alarm goes off though it means something is amiss and the bird is on edge. This could be something as commonplace as a bird flying to the top of a tree and sentineling to get a better look at something to a mulitspecies mobbing of and owl or hunting cat. One of the coolest parts of learning Bird Language is that once you start tuning it, you get to see really cool animals!  There is a lot more to the different “shapes of alarm” but we didn’t want your boys heads to explode giving it to them all at once!  So I hope to continue our study and observation of the birds to continue into the Spring!


After Kyle quizzed the kids a bit playing sounds off his phone and having the kids guess which voice the birds were using our clans went their separate ways.  The Chickadee boys who were here last week wanted to show the 2 fellows who were not the cool fort they had built.  The boys who ain’t seen the fort were blindfolded and led to the location by the other two guys. 


After working on it a little, time was ticking and everyone wanted a game!  So I taught one of my favorites, “Towhee and Weasels”. In this game, the Towhee is guarding thier nest and everyone else is back at the starting line as a bunch of Weasels.  If the Towhee had his back turned, the Weasels can sneak forward. If the Towhee gives thier “Towheeeeeeeee” alarm call, the Weasels must freeze as the towhee is turning around.  If a Weasel is caught moving they are called out and must start over. Eventually a Weasel is able to steal the “egg” from the nest.  Then as a group they have to get it back to thier starting line!  It is a super fun game and I hope to play it more soon!

We only have two more sessions left this season, I wonder what nature has hiding for us out there!

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