“Good bye! I’ll invite you to my birthday party,” Finley called over her shoulder to John, the Hawk Ridge Interpreter, as we left the viewing area along Skyline Parkway recently.
She’s 5. Thus, her farewell declaration was of the highest compliment.
A Day at Hawk Ridge
Because the raptor migration had begun, Finley and I headed for Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve for a picnic lunch and hawkwatching at the viewing area along Skyline Parkway (a few years ago we volunteered to help prepare for the migration).
It turned out to be a memorable experience because of the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory’s amazing staff. Naturalists are on site daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in September and October. The ones we interacted with made Finley feel welcome and provided her with many kid-oriented ways to learn.
One interactive learning opportunity for kids is to be banded. A friendly staff member measured Finley’s wrist and arm span, logged it in a special book, gave her the code name FIVA, and created a band with a unique band number for her wrist. All the while, she talked about bird terminology (e.g., talons), how banding allows researchers to study the birds growth and movement patterns, and the different characteristics of male and female hawks.
Finley then spent time with John watching birds with binoculars. I was talking to another staff member so I wasn’t privy to their conversation, but from this picture, you can see that she was feeling quite comfortable.
At another point, she and Noelle, the Operations Director, were pretending to be birds migrating by running around and flapping their arms.
Connecting Kids with Nature
The entire experience was a science lesson extraordinaire for kiddos.
After inviting John to her party as we left, she looked up at me and declared, “That was awesome!”
I couldn’t agree more.
Thank you to all the Hawk Ridge staff and volunteers for taking the time to connect with Finley and making learning about birds fun.
Have you visited Hawk Ridge during the great migration? Share your experiences in the comment box below. Thanks!