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Calendar >  Birds, Nests and Feathers

Birds, Nests and Feathers

By   /  July 19, 2018  /  1 Comment


Pat Murphy

Pat Murphy– Vista, CA …The July 14, 2018, Kids in the Garden class was titled, “Birds, Nests and Feathers”. Despite the warm weather, the class was well attended with 16 children, 10 adults and 2 dogs on leashes. Butterflies greeted me as I entered the Children’s Garden. The kids were already seated around the Lowes Pavilion getting instruction on our feathered friends. The Children’s Garden is home to the new Children’s Discovery Trail, the Ricardo Breceda “Serpent,” the Enchanted Garden Tube Tunnels, Scarecrows on display, the interactive Children’s Music Garden, the Turtle and Dino Dig, and the Incredible Edibles Garden.

Farmer Jones was just describing the many bird species that frequent Brengle Terrace Park and the Alta Vista Botanical Gardens. “There are hummingbirds, hawks, roadrunners, owls, ducks, mockingbirds, and bluebirds that visit or call the Gardens home”, she said. Added that recently she had observed a roadrunner with a lizard hanging out of its’ beak. Farmer Jones talked about the Alta Vista Botanical Gardens being a habitat for all of these bird species.

Jones pointed out that a habitat provides food, water, shelter, and space or air and that our homes qualify as habitats for the same reasons. The coloring of birds, the sounds they make, and their special adaptations that help them survive were also discussed. The many different types of nests and the material they are made from were reviewed. Kids got to handle feathers from many different birds and several types of bird nests. It was hands-on discovery and fun for all! I enjoyed watching the kid’s faces as their fingers explored the way the feathers could be opened and closed again.

Photos by Pat Murphy

During the class, Farmer Jones called attention to a small bird house mounted on the fence to one side of the Incredible Edibles Garden. She said it was for the small bluebirds and currently “for rent”. She was explaining that these blue birds were not the larger Blue Jays that everyone is so familiar with when someone called out, “Look! Look at the bird house!” We all turned our heads and saw a small blue bird enter the birdhouse, rearrange some of the nest, and then fly off. “Well”, exclaimed Farmer jones, “I guess that bird house just went off the market.”

As the lesson continued the children were exposed to many bird facts, such as birds are the only animals with feathers and birds were the inspiration for the invention of Velcro. We also learned that the Mocking Bird was aptly named because of its ability to sound like other birds. Barn Owl boxes need to face South, and how to distinguish a Red Tail Hawk from a Red Shoulder Hawk. We actually spotted a pair of hawks soaring spirally upward in the distance but too far away to determine accurately which type they were. Most likely, judging by their size, they were Red Shouldered Hawks.

Birds have a wide variety of diets. The youngsters were asked to compose a list and they came up with everything that you could imagine. Seed of course, we know from domesticated birds, but the wild birds eat seed and much more. Their cuisine includes; fruit, worms, flowers, plants, nectar, nuts, insects, reptiles (snake & lizard), rodents (mice & rats), fish, frogs, baby birds, eggs, and carrion (dead animals). Yes, it was noted that we eat a lot of the same things but we are in a much different position on the food chain.

Alta Vista Botanical Gardens is now in the ninth year of getting kids outdoors to discover their environment, enjoy nature, dig into gardening, learn about natural resources, and to share art and music. The fee per class is only $5 per child for two hours of FUN and learning, payable at the class. These fees support the development of the Children’s Garden. Adults will stay with their children and they pay a $5 Garden entry fee that is collected at the main entrance.

A family membership in Alta Vista Botanical Gardens gains you entrance to the Botanical Garden and includes the monthly “Kids in the Garden” class free for a year. Membership forms are available from Farmer Jones. Pre-registration for each class with Farmer Jones is required to ensure she has materials for all the kids attending. For more info, contact farmerjones@altavistagardens.org or call (760) 822-6824.

Farmer Jones is a retired elementary teacher with 28 years’ experience in the classroom. She is a Master Composter who has been working in school gardens and children’s gardens for 45 years. School field trips, Scout badge sessions, and club tours are available for a reasonable fee. Alta Vista Botanical Gardens is located at 1270 Vale Terrace Drive in VISTA, at the top of the hill inside Brengle Terrace Park.



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  • Published: 6 years ago on July 19, 2018
  • By:
  • Last Modified: July 19, 2018 @ 11:03 pm
  • Filed Under: Local

1 Comment

  1. Thank you Pat for joining us! We always appreciate your stories about our Kids in the Garden classes!

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