Young bird-watchers hit the trail Bear Branch Center opens their eyes to 'honkers,' kestrels and 'yucky worms'

December 27, 1992|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

"Who is Bert's favorite bird on Sesame Street?" Lynette Lenz asked a group of preschool children.

"Big Bird!" was the unanimous reply.

"But what about a real bird?" said Ms. Lenz, trying to lead into a lesson on birds. She hoped somebody would answer, "A pigeon."

The 4- and 5-year-old students were taking time out from the holiday excitement last week to talk about birds and take a nature walk with their mothers.

The children participate in the Mother Nature, Mom and Me program at Bear Branch Nature Center. They all eagerly reported recent adventures in bird-watching.

"I saw a sparrow on our mailbox today," said Kristin Scherbarth, 5.

"I saw a kestrel on the road the last time I was here," shouted Timothy Fisher, 4, proudly.

Timothy was the only kestrel-spotter. Ms. Lenz, their teacher, added his discovery to the Mother Nature bird count poster.

"I saw lots of birds around our feeder last month, but I'm not sure what kind they were," said Brian Ritter. "My mom can help."

For those children who couldn't identify birds, Ms. Lenz showed pictures. After checking the photos, Bryan Holland, 4, listed gulls and pheasants among his sightings, and Stephanie Auld, 4, found an owl just like the one she had seen at Piney Run Park.

"We heard honkers, but we didn't see them," said Kristin, when Ms. Lenz asked about Canada geese. "At Chipmunks [pre-school], we pretended to be hawks."

Ms. Lenz wondered if the birds liked the feeders the children had made previously out of Cheerios and cranberries.

"My birds spit out their food," said Stephanie.

Maybe Carroll County birds would prefer popcorn, said the teacher. She showed the children how to string and make wreaths out of the snack. The children munched more popcorn than they strung on wire.

"I'm going to give my wreath to the birds when Christmas is over," said Heidi Scherbarth, Kristin's twin sister.

After the indoor lessons, the children hiked on the trail surrounding the center. They checked the skies for more birds.

"There should be lots of birds," said Stephanie. "There are yucky worms everywhere."

The children sprinkled the leftover popcorn "for the birds or anybody else who comes along," said Ms. Lenz.

She had winged or four-footed creatures in mind for the popcorn and not the twins' 21-month-old brother, who picked up the discarded kernels. His mother grabbed them before he could pop them into his mouth.

"Look, there's deer tracks leading into the woods," said Heidi, calling to her brother, who made his own "kid tracks" in the muddy soil. "Catch up, you slow pokes."

At the end of the hike, Ms. Lenz told the children to think about recycling for their next class. "Bring in your ideas to share," she said.

"We can recycle our Christmas trees into mulch," said Stephanie.

"Take the ornaments off first," said Timothy.

The next class meets Jan. 19. Spaces are available for children age 3 to 5 years and their mothers.

Information: 848-2517.

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