Friday, June 24, 2011

Hands-On Summer Science

Although it's summer, I'm cruelly forcing the boys to continue reading and learning.  Which they do a pretty good job of all on their own, but we're also doing some organized science studies.  They always think they want completely free, unstructured time, but that doesn't usually go well.  

Wyatt's doing his own upper level science (an overview of geology, archaeology and paleontology, and then quite a bit of human anatomy).  Wasn't sure what to do with Tate, but decided to include him with Gunnar, whom I gave a choice of six options - Botany, Astronomy, Human Anatomy, Flying Creatures, Swimming Creatures, or Land Animals.  His first choice was Flying Creatures - Birds, Bats, and Bugs - which is also great for Tate, my junior entomologist.  Right now, we're all enjoying learning more about the birds, especially with so many visiting our yard and feeders.

Yesterday, as I was hanging out laundry, the birds were squawking up a storm, when Gunnar noticed...

 It's a flicker, which is a kind of woodpecker, and it was flopping around in the yard below a couple of large windows.  We've had that happen before, and the birds usually recover after awhile and fly away, so we watched this one for awhile.  Apparently dazed and confused, it wasn't going anywhere.

There are a lot of dogs and cats in the neighborhood, as well as raccoons and bald eagles, so we didn't want to leave it just lying around for too long.  I tried holding it up to our trees, to see if it would grip the bark, as we've seen them doing.  Maybe that would feel natural, and its instincts would kick in.  But no luck.  It would hang there for awhile, then lose its grip.

 We started calling it a her, because she doesn't have the bright red cheek patches the males have.  Later we realized that "she" is pretty young (though nearly fledged) so "her" coloring may not be fully developed.  Oh well, we'll stick with "her".

 Since it was coming into evening, we set her up in a box for the night, with water and suet available.  Flickers' favorite food is ants, and we brought her to a little ant hill in the yard, but she seemed too dazed to do much about it.

 This morning she seemed much improved - much more alert, trying to "walk" (still a bit like a drunken sailor) around the yard, and greedily snatching ants with her long sticky tongue, but still unable to fly.

 Isn't she beautiful?  She has striped feathers on her back, orange in her tail, and spots on her belly.  Since we weren't sure if she was hurt or just young, and that we would be able to keep her adequately fed, we took her to a rehabilitation shelter this morning.  The boys were sad to see her go, but it was the right thing to do.  And what a lot they've learned!

This is what she'll look like when she's mature.

And here's a male.  Gorgeous, yah?


The dB family said...

Beautiful!! What an educational opportunity for your boys! I love when God gives us those special opportunities to enjoy His wonderful creation first hand! I hope she recovers well!


melanie said...

Oh yes, love a flicker =) What a mutual blessing to have her land in your laps, well almost. ;-)

Mrs. Squirrel said...

A happy story is always fun to read :)
[And the photos are wonderful, too!]

We have flickers around our place, too. They are beautiful... and NOISY :D