Not Just for Kids

 Vol. 11, No. 2

January 9-15, 2003

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Every Day is Bird Day in Chesapeake Marshes

Winter, when great flights of geese, swans and ducks visit Chesapeake Country, is an especially good time to see who you can spy.

Finding Birds in the Chesapeake Marsh
Written by Zora Aiken ~ Illustrated by David Aiken
Reviewed by Martha Blume

“Come on, sleepyhead, get out of bed!” Ethan shouted to his sister. “Today is bird day.”

So begins the adventure as Ethan and his sister Regan set to Zora Aiken’s Finding Birds in the Chesapeake Marsh. Zora Aiken’s newest book is a bright and fascinating field guide. The text includes factual and anecdotal information about our feathered friends, which will help young birders and you, too, get acquainted with the most common birds of the marsh.

As Ethan and Regan visit a wildlife refuge on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, they find birds in ponds and creeks, in pine trees and among marsh grasses.

When the kids raise their binoculars, you see colorful illustrations on every page. David Aiken’s watercolor paintings are both realistic and beautiful, showing each bird in its natural habitat. Companion drawings introduce similar species for easy comparison.

Regan and Ethan decide to keep a life list, by recording the name of each new species they encounter, its habitat and their own observations. That’s how they help you learn about the birds.

For example, did you know that when the snowy egret is hunting, it may suddenly run back and forth to scare the fish so that it can see them better as they try to swim away? I didn’t — until I read Aiken’s book.

Finding Birds in the Chesapeake Marsh by Zora Aiken was published in 2001 by Tidewater Publishers, Centreville, Maryland.

Beaks and Bills
Did you ever notice how different birds have very different beaks and bills? Here’s a game you can play to help you understand why.

You’ll need:

  • 4 types of ‘bills’: tweezers, scissors, a spoon and a tongue depressor
  • 3 types of ‘food’: toothpicks, dried beans and buttons
  • 3 friends

Give each friend one type of bill to hold and take one yourself. Spread the toothpick food on a flat surface. On the count of three, all four birds (you and your friends) try to pick up the food with your bill. Who had the easiest time?

Now try the beans and then the buttons. Which bill works best with each type of food?

Birds’ bills are adapted to work best with the kinds of foods they eat. You wouldn’t see a roseate spoonbill trying to get insects out of a tree, or a heron trying to scoop up seeds with his long pointy bill. Did you ever see a hawk go after nectar or a hummingbird try to catch a mouse? Now, that would be ridiculous.

Cool Kid's Stuff

January 11
Let’s Go Fly a Kite!
Kids 6+ get ready for spring and make kites with the experts from Wings over Washington. Then, visit the museum’s exhibit From Kites to Kitty Hawk. noon-4pm @ College Park Aviation Museum, Cpl. Frank Scott Dr., College Park. $3 for each kite w/museum admission; 301/864-6029.

January 11 & 15
Owl at the Moon
Kids 3-5 hear a story to discover how to find an owl on a winter night. Craft and snack included. 10-11am Jan. 11; 10-11am & 2-3pm Jan. 15 @ Battle Creek Cypress Swamp, Gray’s Rd. off Sixes Rd., Prince Frederick. $3 w/discounts; rsvp: 410/535-5327.

January 12
All that Habitat
Kids 5-7 learn with hands-on activities how wildlife and people live out of doors. 2-3pm on @ Patuxent Research Refuge Visitor Center, Powder Mill Rd. off Baltimore-Washington Pkwy. and Rt. 197. rsvp: 301/497-5887.

January 14
To Look at a Flea
Kids of all ages gather for story time and curl up with the book The Wings on a Flea by Ed Emberley. 10am @ Barnes and Noble, Harbour Center, Solomon’s Island Rd. Annapolis: 410/573-1115.

Copyright 2003
Bay Weekly