Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Shrike Strikes & Stabs in Poem #308

The natural world is not always a kind place, and shrikes are brutal birds.  Yesterday, Mark and the children were sitting on the couch discussing the Great Backyard Bird Count and they began talking about shrikes.  I was trying to write in another room, but really I was eavesdropping.  Mark had taught me about shrikes before, but they're so incredible that I had to listen in.  Because their talons are not very sharp, shrikes must skewer their meals onto sticks, hawthorn spikes, or barbed wire in order to eat.

If you would like to see a shrike eating a chickadee, you can do so here.  If you would like to see a shrike eating a junco, visit here.

Last weekend, Georgia awoke early and sat at the front window by our feeder, making extensive notes about each bird's eating habits.  I wondered if some of her thinking came from our recent reading of THE ROBIN MAKES A LAUGHING SOUND by Sallie Wolf and Michael Borstein, a charming poetry book filled with sketches, watercolors, and little listy notes.

Our family has never participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count before, but we plan to do so this year.  Running the week of February 18-21, this event is meant for children and gives a snapshot of which birds are where during these four days.  Last year, 11,233,609 birds were counted.  I wonder how many were counted more than once!

Take a look here at GBBC website to learn more about how to participate and how to learn more about the birds that live in and travel through our own skies.  I once read that most third grade American children know more rainforest animals than they know backyard birds.  Here's a way to change that.

Teachers - here is another way to deepen and widen students' understandings about the birds in our neighborhoods.  SIGNIFICANT STUDIES FOR SECOND GRADE, by Karen Ruzzo and Mary Anne Sacco, includes a wonderful nonfiction bird study in which students each research a bird and write about it.  Glorious!  If I were a second or third grade teacher, I would teach this unit every year.

Students - once again, today's poem came from careful listening.  Yesterday's poem came from listening to what everyone was talking about (a snow day.)  Today's poem came from listening to one distinct and interesting conversation.  Did you notice that it is written, while not in five lines, in a limerick rhyme and meter?
For anyone who is wondering, yes.  We do have a snow day today.

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  1. Wow, this post is amazing! From your poem to the resources there is so much information here. I can't wait to check out the book, "The Robin Makes a Laughing Sound".

    It has been icy and snowy here in Ohio. We've been out of school for 2 days. Yesterday I went outside for a bit, and was surprised to see so many birds out and about. I'm checking into the "Great Backyard Bird Count" as well.

    Thank you, thank you, for another great post!

  2. Cathy, Thank YOU for your very kind comment and for tweeting the post! I hope that you enjoyed checking out the "Great Backyard Bird Count." We're excited about participating this year! A.