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A Day In The Life At Under The Canopy: Bird Language

Many people are curious about what Under The Canopy Classes are like. Below is a description of one class I teach where we learn about bird communication. Bird Language is a wonderful way to get more engaged with the wildlife that live around us. It also makes you feel like a nature expert when you can tell your friends the difference between a mating call and a song when a bird is talking near by.

Introduction to Bird Language

We start the class at 3:30 p.m, children arrive and are welcomed under a pergola covered in Wisteria. The first twenty minutes of class are spent exploring the backyard, catching up with friends and eating a snack. This time is essential for the children to get grounded and connected to the space. They are making a connection with nature after a long school day spent mostly indoors. The games they play are often some imaginative game involving a store, a stick battle, building forts, playing on the swing or playing in the sand box. I sometimes have a planting project at this time for children that want to connect with me more then their peers. We put our hands in the earth and set good intentions for healthy flowers and vegetables to grow.

We then move up into the tree house for Circle Time. This is a chance for children to share one thing they have noticed in nature, either that week or that day. We pass a talking stick and they show me a little window into their world and how they interpret nature. After this we begin our lesson.

In “Introduction to Bird Language” we talk about the five main voices of birds. The five main voices are: song, contact call, territorial aggression, juvenile begging and alarm. We listen to audio files of each voice and then try to mimic the sound. We play a game called “Guess That Bird Voice.” I play the audio recording in a random order and each child guesses what the bird is saying. This is a great memory game and really seems to help them understand the different sounds birds make.

Sometimes when I play the audio files birds respond to the calls and we get the opportunity to interact with birds. In one of the classes we had a cardinal come right next to us and chirp at us as it looked for its mate.

Next we all head down from the tree house to spend some quiet time listening for bird language. The children find their own spot in the yard and I set a timer. They sit for three to five minutes. When their time is up they head under the pergola to the picnic bench to draw and write in their nature journals about what they saw and heard. Each child gets a clipboard and paper to write in that I assemble into a journal at the end of the semester.

We end the end of class at 5:00 p.m. with a thankfulness circle and share something we are thankful for that Mother Nature provides for us.

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