Follow the Clues…Bird Detective!

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Hello, my name is Justin.

I will be teaching you how you can be a bird detective!  You just have to follow the clues to identify any bird species you want.  There is more ways than you think and here they are!

What I think is the easiest feature to use is finding males and females.  In almost all of the bird species the male looks different then the female.  You can also tell by the bird’s size, the largest bird on the earth is the Whooping Crane.  The smallest bird is five centimeters tall.  This bird lives in Cuba and is a Bee Hummingbird.  Here is a picture of a hummingbird that lives in our area.

Can you see the long, thin beak?


What other clues could you use to identify a bird species?

You can also tell the bird species by the beak.  A bird that eats nectar has a loooooong beak.  It uses its long tongue to slurp nectar up like its tongue is a straw.  A meat eater usually a sharp beak with a hook on the end.  This is used for ripping the meat apart.  An insect eater has a thin beak for pecking insects in small cracks and trees.  A bird that eats seeds has a sharp point at the end and strong edges to crack the seed open.

This Red-tailed Hawk on a Saguaro Cactus outside our room has a beak that helps tear meat.

There are also a lot of  different feet for birds.  Here is one.   Songbirds have four thin toes one, pointing diagonally left and another pointing diagonally right.  The other toe is pointing straight.  The last one is pointing backwards!  

Lesser Finch using its toes to grasp the finch sock at our classroom window.


Some birds like the Titmouse have “mohawks”, or as the Quail has a topnotch.  A topnotch is a little feather on the top of quail’s head.  

Many male and female Gambel's Quail feeding at our window. See the top knotch?


You can tell by the patterns and colors of the feathers.  For example, the female House Finch looks almost exactly like the Song Sparrow, but the Song Sparrow has darker brown spots.  The Song Sparrow only has the brown specs on the top of his stomach, it has a thin pointed beak, and it has a dark spot next to it’s eye.  A female House Finch has light brown spots all over it’s stomach and it has a curved beak, but doesn’t have the dark spot.  

This House Finch at our window is similar to the House Sparrow. Its pattern and color set it apart.



This is how you would be able to tell the difference between bird species.

It’s Superman, It’s a Plane….No, It’s A Bird for Project Feeder Watch!

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We are doing a project called Project FeederWatch.  It is about finding different bird species, graphing and recording the number we see, and then reporting it to Cornell University.  
We are doing it for the Lab of Ornithology at Cornell University.  We are doing it October through March.  We are doing it in Mrs. Fraher’s class, Mrs. Goucher’s class, our school habitat, and by the desert wash outside our class.  
We are feeding the birds, observing the different feeder locations throughout the day, and recording what we find. 
The first steps of this project was to get to know the birds and their features and their habits so when we are ready to tally their numbers we know what species we are seeing.  
We did this through observing birds,
keeping a record of the species we have found using a digital camera and a birding  journal.  
                 So far, we have observed nineteen species!
       Cactus Wren                                      House Finch                                                White Crown Sparrow
Song Sparrow                                    Curved Bill Thrasher                              Gila Woodpecker
Gilded Flicker                                    Gamble’s Quail                                           Mourning Dove
Northern Cardinal                         American Robin                                        American Crow
Abert’s Towhee                                 Western Wood Pee-Wee
Take a look at some of the species we have seen:
Make your own slide show at Animoto.

Every week there are two new bird feeders that go out twice a day to fill the feeders by our window.  They put food on the window sill and the feeders.

Never Get an Addition or Subtraction Problem Wrong Again!

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Mrs. Fraher went to a math class by Kim Sutton and learned about the digital root of a number. When she taught us, she gave us a challenge to try to find out the theory of doing it with subtraction on our own.  Three kids found it out- Claire,Lilly, and me, Justin. We found this song on the Internet that was written by Kim Sutton and performed by Ron Brown… this is only part of the song.

By Justin 🙂

Digital Root by Kim Sutton © 2008

performed by Ron Brown

Digital root, digital root, Can you find the digital root?
Digital root, digital root, Can you find the digital root?

The digital root of a number is the sum of all its digits.
Keep adding that sum, Until you’re done,
And a single digit is the final outcome.

That’s the digital root. Digital root, digital root,
Can you find the digital root?

Let’s take a number like 53.  Add the 5 to the 3
The sum is 8. You’re doing great.
The digital root is 8. The digital root is 8.

Our teacher challenged us to use Show Me on an iPad to teach others how to do digital roots for addition and subtraction.  Here are the problems we used digital roots for.   In order to do this, we had to create a problem, write a script so we wouldn’t forget what to do, and then we practiced until each of us knew how to do it without mistakes.  Each of us has a different kind of problem.

by Lillian



Here’s a couple questions by Claire:

Do you think digital roots will help you get better at math?  Will you get more problems correct on your test if you use digital roots?  Let us know!


ePals from Down Under

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ePals From Down Under       

by Justin and Lillian

ePals is a website where you can communicate with other people in different countries by sending e-mails back and fourth.    ePals is a very safe environment, and no other companies, except for ePals, can email each other.   We are partnered with Mrs. Farlam’s class in Australia, it is really fun having the ePals.   We also have ePals in Kenya, Africa but right know we are working on Port Lincoln, Australia.
Earlier this week, Justin and I were interviewing kids in our class.   We were interviewing them to ask and learn what they learned about Australia.   Then Justin and I picked which ones we liked best.    After both of us chose which three we liked best.   We would video tape them on the I Pod Touches and have them say what they learned.
Lilly and I were doing the video taping with the I-Pod touches or as Mrs. Fraher calls them I touches.   It took lots of observation to see if they were doing anything distracting in the video.   It was extra hard getting the right moment when it was quietest in the hall, and of course having everybody asking what are we doing?  It was exciting to kind of be the teacher.

Here are the videos we came up with.