Another bird day with guest presentation by OWL Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society whose mission is the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of raptors (eagles, falcons, hawks, osprey, owls, and vultures). The youth got to meet Flinger, a Roadside Hawk native to South America likely brought up to Canada illegally, as well as Jesse, a Barred Owl and who suffered a head trauma after being hit by a car. Was great to see the birds up close and learn about these amazing raptors. Who knew that owls could turn their heads 270 degrees or that Peregrine Falcons are the fastest bird and can dive at 320km/hr. Later we dissected Owl pellets, which we discovered are actually regurgitated rather than being pooped out because they include indigestible material left in the gizzard such as teeth, skulls, claws, and feathers and are too dangerous to pass through the rest of the owl’s digestive tract. Without knowing what the owls were fed, after dissecting the bones, we were able to determine if the owl had eaten a mouse, shrew, mole, rat and how many. As it turns out Owls usually eat two rodents/day. Was a pretty cool and interesting activity for the youth.
Went on a great field trip to the 300 acre Maplewood Flats Conservation Area and the Wild Bird Trust of Britsh Columbia where the youth did a little habitat restoration work including moving rock to help buttress the shoreline and clearing old dead salal, then some bird watching where we saw a nesting osprey, and a plant walk with Squamish ethnobotanist Senaqwila Wyss. Maplewood Flats is a particularly interesting site administered by the Municipality of North Vancouver but adjacent the səl’ilwətaɁɬ reserve along Dolarton Highway in North Van. It is also the site of a reconciliation effort by the Wild Bird Trust Board who are working with the səl’ilwətaɁɬ to help restore the habitat, including the original mudflats and clam beds through a shared management agreement and ideally a returning of this land to the səl’ilwətaɁɬ Nation.
Another great day for the Environmental Youth Alliance and Grandview Woodland Food Connection mixing work and play with the 12 youth in the program who certainly like to move. They want to work and have less patience for sitting around, so we started the day working in the Cottonwood Youth Garden where we cleared invasive plants, such as Himalayan Blackberry, Goutweed, Morning Glory, and other non-native plants, in preparation to plant more native species. In the afternoon we focused on some games such as “predator prey”, where a blindfolded predator must capture (tag) their prey through sound or “get to know your tree” where a blindfolded person is led to a tree where they get to know it through feel, smell, etc, then are taken far enough away and then without the blindfold, must try to find the tree that they got to know. These games are all about ecology and connecting with nature through play.
Strathcona and Cottonwood Gardens Environmental Youth Alliance youth garden provide such wonderful nature activities and learning opportunities, which is really what makes for a successful program. The youth have lots to stay engaged with. Today was a mix of learning starting with some native plant identification and some youth doing some plant pressing. Later, we learned more about birds by looking at a number of taxidermy birds lent to us from the UBC Beaty Biodiversity Museum. In the afternoon, we headed over to the youth garden to clear away a patch of invasive non-native plants such as Himalayan blackberry, buttercup, morning glory, and goutweed.
Today was about the birds where we had the opportunity to hang out with Sam, a bird expert and learn about birds, their benefits to the environment, and their habitat. Birds and food go together, whether as pollinators, pest control, or providing soil nutrients bird poop. Saw some bushtits, crows (of course), starlings, and chickadees. Later spent the afternoon building swallow birdhouses to gift to Maplewood Flats Conservation Area which we will be visiting next week.
Got down to some work today in the Environmental Youth Alliance youth garden at the Cottonwood Gardens. Watered and weeded some of the veggie beds. Also harvested wonderful Mulberries from a large tree that we later used to make fruit leather. Meanwhile over in the Native Plant Demo Garden in Strathcona Gardens, we dug a hole to erect a tall bird perch and nesting pole. Much of the focus with this year’s Wild Minds is on birds and understanding the interrelationship between birds, plants, our food source and ecology in general.