Environmental Arts Group
The event integrated naturalist information about urban birds, creation of an urban bird garden space on-campus at the University of North Texas, and a collaborative art project. Our art project was unique.
David Taylor, poet and essayist, wrote a poem detailing twelve common urban birds in North Central Texas: American Crow, American Robin, Barn Swallow, Black-crowned Night Heron, Brown-headed Cowbird, Bullock’s Oriole, House Finch, House Sparrow, Killdeer, Mallard, Mourning Dove, Peregrine Falcon, Rock Pigeon (all Celebrate Urban Birds focal species).
The poem was incomplete—each section detailing one of the birds had a beginning, but needed to be completed by participants, allowing them to add additional writing and artwork.
The sections were 48”x60”. Each section was then connected to the others. Together with an introduction and conclusion, the collective work is 4’ x 70’.
The mural is currently displayed in the lobby of the UNT Environmental Education Science and Technology building and later will be displayed at venues throughout the City of Denton.
The youth who filled the art piece came through the Elm Fork Education Center at UNT. They were exposed to both biological information of the local birds ,and fun, artistic ways to represent the birds.
The mural ended up being a focal point for the kids. After they had been through all of the educational booths and urban bird planting; they brought not only fantastic art skills but also a new-found knowledge of urban birds.
27. Holly Yokum_Ocala_FL
28. Kirk Mona_St Paul_MN
30. Lori Belling_Crestwood_KY
32. Mary Meyer_Humble_TX
A few years ago, I found that a dove had built her nest amidst a spider plant in one of my hanging baskets on the back porch. By the time I noticed the nest, it already had eggs in it, so of course, I had to wait until the chicks hatched and moved out. This is a picture of the dove with her 2 chicks shortly before they left the nest.
34. Anatoly Sousa_Torrington_CT
35. Beverly Bowling_Cleveland_OH
36. Marcia Carone_Erie_PA
37. Manoj Agrawal
38. Gail Nash_Mountain Home_NC
39. Pat Phillips_Chattanooga_TN
40. Colin Whiteford_Raleigh_NC
41. Charlotte Whiteford_Raleigh_NC
43. William Mullins_North Port_FL
47. Kim Gobie_Savannah_TN
49. David Peraza_Cubudare_Venezuela
50. Fran Tritthardt_Cabo San Lucas_Mexico
52. Jack and Alexandra Cohen_Denver_CO
54. Jay & Kyoko Larsen_Orangevale_CA
58. Nancy Mone_New York_NY
61. Teresa Hall_Longview_TX
62. Brandon and Leslie Milligan_Rogersville_MO
63. Philip Plouffe_Spring Valley_CA
67-68. Jason Hebbard_Harrisburg_PA
69. Parker Reed_South Nephi_UT
71-72. Bob Weismantel_Ringwood_NJ
1. Sakhawat Ali_Pakistan
During my research thesis on Rock Pigeon I was taking many photographs of nesting sites, but I found this picture especially captivating.
2. Chris L. Browning_Ohio
This is a bunny nest we found in a tractor tire in my back yard. We normally use this tire to build fires on a nice summer evening to keep the fire contained. Not this time! Somehow the Mom bunny climbed in that tire, made a nesting spot with dried grass and had her little ones. There were five baby bunnies that eventually grew up and left their nesting spot.
4. Andrea Enos_MA
This nest, with now hatched eggs, was built on our front door light. The light has a dust-til-dawn sensor in it and it faces South. It has sun all afternoon and evening and then warmth all night once the dusk sensor turns on the bulb. Despite all kinds of birdhouses all over the wooded backyard [that were occupied] the sparrows or wrens made this one. Smart move, don’t you think?
5. Janie L. Ferguson_PA
Here are some photos of a bald eagle in an eagles nest I had the privilege of knowing about. My cousin Nevada asked me to come down with my long lens and see if I could get some better close ups than they were able to get! So I drove down to Rathbone, NY and was able to get these shots. I was really far away when these were taken and then I cropped them, too, so they aren’t real sharp, but I wanted to share them with you all. It is in a secret tree, for sure!
6. Rachel Graham_CA
My picture shows the two raven nests that are perched on the Geisel Library on the University of California, San Diego campus. One of the nests has an actively nesting pair, while I believe that the other does not. Recently I was fortunate enough to see the pair of ravens on the lawn right beneath the library, where they were pulling up grass that they brought back to their nest. The Geisel Library, named for Theodore Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, is the icon of UC San Diego, and I think that it is wonderful that the ravens have claimed it to raise their young.
7. Jo Leach, TX
We were working in a campground (Rocky Point Campground on Lake Almanor) in northern California for the summer. This Stellar Jay decided our 5th Wheel trailer hitch was a great place for a nest. We were able to watch the four little ones grow and fledge!
11. AJ Mithra_India
14. Pavan Pal, India
8. Doreen Mackay, London
17. Sylvia Shweder, Brooklyn, NY
As you can see from the attached photo, a Mourning Dove made its nest in the planter outside of our windowsill in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Once I glimpsed its eggs that it was sitting on. Then, last week, 2 of the chicks hatched (a couple of days apart). The mother is extremely protective of her chicks around us, but we have managed to see her regurgitating and feeding her chicks several times — absolutely fascinating!
18. George Tomasevich, Westminster, CO
This image is from the Heritage at Westmoor Golf course 2 years ago. The herons were much closer to a Great Horned Owl that lived nearby then. People who live in the area said that the owl chased the herons at sundown, but the latter returned anyway. The Great Blue Herons had their babies after the owl and her two juvies left the nest.
19. Michele Wellard_London_England
This is a Rock Dove nest in New Cross, London, England, from last year when I lived there. The nest is up on a beam in a very busy city train station. I visited the nest a lot to keep an eye on it, and when the babies were hatched, a teenage boy climbed the post and took a photo of the babies for me.
20. James Whitten, Huntington Beach, CA
We noticed a couple of Mourning Doves in a hanging planter in our front yard. A couple of days later, I saw two eggs. The eggs hatched and this was the picture I took on Easter morning, 2010.
21. Holly Yocum, Ireland
22. Sharon Horace_TX
Franz Carver, Yosemite National Park, CA
Raymond Jones, Great Falls, MT
Jylanda Diles, Wilseyville, NY
David Linteteur, Lake Tomahawk, WI
Steven Hamilton, Earl Park, IN
Siegfried Scheeler, Issaquah, WA
Carolyn Schlueter, St. Charles, MO
Chuck Branch, Broken Arrow, OK
Sally Scholle, Littlestown, PA
Jacqueline Froelich, Fayetteville, AR
Mary Collier, Nevada City, CA
Rhonda Mullins, North Port, FL
Charles Spencer, Tucson, AZ
Stacey Wyman, Somersworth, NH
I found this nest in one of the signs for Michael’s craft store. I thought it fitting since the bird nesting there got creative and used bright yellow forsythia leaves to decorate their nest with.
Meridian Stiller, Virginia Beach, VA
My name is Meridian. I am five years old. I am home-schooled. I am learning about birds. I have a wreath near my door with a bird nest. Two robin eggs are in it and they are blue. They are two teeny-tiny hatchlings. A hatchling is a new baby bird. The babies are cute and pink. They have fuzzy down!
Karen Oetken, Olympia, WA
Graeme Rosenau, Juneau, AK
Terri Sabados, W Long Branch, NJ
Smart Sparrow Parents:
I was helping out an elderly neighbor by planting spring flowers in her 2nd story balcony flower pots and two sparrows kept fussing at me, flying back and forth for over an hour. It wasn’t until they flew away that I realized why.
I heard the faintest chirping sounds and saw about 8 feet above me a nest in the crack of the roof. You could barely see that it was a nest because the parents had wedged the nesting material into the crevice and it was almost hidden.
I went inside the house and got a ladder and took the picture through the window and between the curtains so I would not disturb the nest or the parents. Just as I was taking the picture one of the parents arrived home with lunch; right on time as it was 12:36 pm.
Jon Ridler, Pittsburgh, CA
These two babies are being raised in a nest on a bearing cooling water return line for 6 unit condensate booster pump. The water line is warmer (but not too warm) so it’s an ideal nesting location. Mirant employes have marked off the area and are keeping an eye on their young visitors, which are approximately ten days old. These photos were taken March 21st; I am an employee at the plant and member of Worth A Dam.
Pavan Pal, India
Vincent O’Brien, Austin, TX
I found this nest in an outhouse here at Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park in Austin, TX while participating in the Travis Audubon Society’s Birdathon. On that glorious day, our team found a singing male Painted Bunting, Great Horned Owl, Wild Turkey, Osprey, Belted King Fisher, and this!
This fantastic funky nest underscores the ingenuity and determination of birds to survive within our urban landscape. I hope my photograph, which gives new meaning to “Answering the Call of Nature,” inspires others to study, appreciate, and conserve our lovely world of birds!
Victoria Moreno, Cambria, CA
This photo is of my mom’s deck…she has 2 cats so the birds get very crafty about putting the nest just out of reach but close enough to drive the cats crazy. They do this every year.
Nick Mason, San Diego, CA
Two Mourning Doves that took to nesting on top of a Fire Extinguisher outside of my apartment. The pictures are of the nest about 2 days after I first noticed the male carrying nesting material to the site.
Doreen Mackay, East London, UK
Karen Campbell, Troy, Turkey
My photo is not so unusual but it was taken in a location very dear to me–the ancient city of Troy. I usually live overseas (China, Czech Republic, Malta, Puerto Rico, Tunisia and hopefully to the Marshall Islands next) teaching English as a second language.
I spent one summer in Greece and Turkey on vacation, wandering from one evocative place to another. While in Troy, walking around reading snippets of Homer and listening for the tragi-brave sounds of battle, I heard quite another sound. Loud baby squawks, quiet, and more loud baby squawks. I followed stealthily until I found these precious little faces. Suddenly, Mom arrived with a nice morsel. She went back and forth tending the most assertive ones.
Lifeworks Services, Inc.
Imagine a group of ten people standing perfectly quiet; for ten minutes not a word, just the subtle rustling of the wind in the rushes along the shore of Lake Rebecca at the bank of the Mississippi in Hastings, Minnesota. Now the silence is interrupted by the sound of willow leaves brushing against each other and there in the greenery is a Cedar Waxwing. A soft, “Oh,” circulates amongst the group and you can almost feel the shivers of quiet excitement. This is the Hastings Birding group. It’s a quiet thing.
After spending time learning and listening to the materials provided we began our weekly observations in early June. At first the group was clumsy with the field glasses and scope and they definitely had to practice quiet behavior, but as the weeks went on they gained comfort in recognizing the birds both by sight and sound. They also learned that being quiet and listening is an important ingredient to successful observation.
Finding the crow, robin and mallard came easily but learning to identify a Cedar Waxwing, or Peregrine Falcon, now that requires some patience.
Each week the group returned to the Hastings Center to enter their findings on the Cornell web site. Recording the data was just one part of our proposed project; we also created bird trivia cards, made photo greeting cards and crafted both bird houses and mosaics.
After twenty weeks of observing, the birders were ready to share their citizen science knowledge and data with the people of Hastings. On September 22 we held an open house with interactive stations for all ages. What a thrill to watch our clients assume the role of expert, teacher, and authority. They greeted their guests with enthusiasm and pride as they directed them around the displays explaining each step. I heard, “I am Nicholas, can I tell you about the birds I know?” “My name is Tina; would you like to try my bird trivia cards?” And in return from our community I heard, “I didn’t know that.” “This is amazing, how beautiful.”
It was great, who knew that we had birders in our midst! Thank you to Cornell for giving us the opportunity to be contributors and educators. We watched 112 Mallard ducks grace the shoreline and found one Peregrine Falcon circling the sky. The elusive Black-crowned Night-Heron escaped us, but we learned so much.
There is a lyric by Fred Ebb that says it all:
Happiness comes in on tip-toe
Well what’d’ya know
It’s a quiet thing
A very quiet thing
Our Hastings clients wrote a poem to describe their birding experience.
Birds flying in the sky are a rainbow in my eye.
I feel their wind and their breeze as they pass through the trees.
I feel good
Listening to the birds is uplifting, I know I’m not alone.
Seeing that one special bird is like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Lifeworks is a Minnesota nonprofit organization that helps people with disabilities live fuller lives that are integrated into the flow of community experience. Through employment at area businesses and social enrichment opportunities, Lifeworks provides the tools individuals need to live the lives they want to live. To learn more visit www.lifeworks.org
Leaders for the World
Leaders for the World, Inc. report:
The project “Let’s Celebrate the Urban Birds of Cantera Peninsula” started with help from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, The Institute of Science for Conservation in Puerto Rico (InCiCo), and others along the way. InCiCo provided assistance to a company supporting integrated development of Cantera Peninsula whose goal is to “Promote the knowledge and appreciation of Cantera Peninsula’s natural and cultural patrimony by fomenting the active participation of local groups, teachers, and students in environmental clubs of the region.”
We started in February 2010, with the intent of attracting youth members between 13 and 18, as well as participants of the “Lead the World, Own Your Life” (Líderes del Mundo Empresarios de su Vida) and “Leadership Workshop for Youth” (Taller de Liderato para Jóvenes) groups. Planned activities involved bird observation and conservation within the wider goal of increasing an appreciation for the environment, especially that of Cantera Peninsula. The following series of workshops, each involving 20-30 students, was conducted over several weeks, and several of them involved walks for birdwatching.
First Workshop: Geographical Perception
This workshop was led by Bárbara Rivera, Coordinator of Educational Programs. With a projector displaying the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website, she and a colleague walked twenty young participants through several conservation and research programs, and also started a discussion about what aspects of the Cantera Peninsula’s natural habitat were important for wildlife and the community. Through this dialogue, students were able to show what knowledge they already had and their areas of interest.
We organized an interpretive exercise that first involved reading a short story to help introduce the participants to perceptions of space and the five senses that we use to observe it. Then, using paper and colored pencils, students were asked to graphically represent human and natural elements that they see in their surroundings, and highlight those that they feel most important. The results from these exercises would later become the foundation for their presentations.
Second Workshop: Orientation
Participants went on a walk from the Community Center to the Neighborhood Council, during which they were able to experience certain areas of the Cantera Peninsula for the first time. These fifty-odd students then heard from Miguel Capaccetti, president of “Leaders for the World,” and Debbie Boneta, from InCiCo, who explained the presentations and activities that would comprise the program, and emphasized the importance of participant commitment to realizing the project’s goals.
Third Workshop: The Natural Surroundings of Urban Communities in Cantera Peninsula: A Treasure We Share With Birds
This question-and-answer session provided an active conversation with participants about Cantera Peninsula’s geography, the transformation of its community over time, the relationship between urban and natural areas, the pros and cons for birds living in urban areas, common bird species, and the importance of trees and home gardens to birds trying to survive in the city.
Fourth Workshop: The Relationship Between Birds and Trees
Here we continued our discussion of the reciprocal relationships between trees and birds, emphasizing the importance of enriching Cantera Peninsula’s urban areas with trees and plants that could provide food and shelter for birds. On this day’s bird walk, we tried to express:
- The importance and advantages of keeping quiet while looking for birds
- How to use guides to identify birds
- The ease of connection with the environment through observation
During the second stage of the workshop, we introduced the youth to basic techniques for tree and bush planting. We planted six trees and four bushes that would attract hummingbirds, which were donated by the Department of Natural Resources (DRNA) and the Puerto Rico University Botanical Garden, and also requested additional species for future reforestation projects. The DRNA generously donated nine species of tree for such an event, including two that are endemic and endangered in Puerto Rico.
Fifth Workshop: Joining Birds With Art
An art teacher, Gloriela Muñoz, talked with students about the notable presence of birds in human history as it is expressed through artwork, culture, science, and language. She shared images from different countries and historical periods representing birds, comparing these graphical representations over culture and time to show the relevance of art in science as a method to record details of birds’ physical appearances. She emphasized the need to observe both general characteristics and details in birds to identify and draw them, explaining concepts of body proportion, contour lines, types of beak and feet, size and shapes of the head, wings, and tail, and colors of plumage as they relate to the birds’ habitats.
Mrs. Muñoz presented and described the art materials that would be used in the final event, and started showing participants how to sketch their projects with the help of photographs of common birds to Cantera Peninsula.
Sixth and Seventh Workshops: Introduction to Techniques for Bird Observation and Data Collection
With a mix of Powerpoint presentations and time outdoors practicing, we discussed:
- The role and importance of citizen science
- The fundamentals of bird observation and its relevance as a recreational and scientific activity
- The key elements of looking at bird behavior and characteristics
- Basic techniques for identifying birds
- Correct use of binoculars and field guides
- The sixteen focal species of Celebrate Urban Birds
- Common birds of Cantera Peninsula
- How to record bird data in different ways
- The required methodology for CUBs that would be used during our event
The Event: Let’s Celebrate the Urban Birds of Cantera Peninsula
For eight hours on October 30th of 2010, between the breakfast, snacks, and lunch that we provided, over fifty participants and collaborators joined in on a day of fun and science. Members of the workshops received a t-shirt, notebook, pencil, and Cornell Lab of Ornithology materials to keep, and were divided into three groups with an adult supervisor to go out and observe some birds!
The three groups, Guaraguao (Red-tailed Hawk), Pitirre (Grey Kingbird), and Picaflor (Hummingbird) each were given a field guide, binoculars for each participant, and a digital camera to use for the day, which was a sunny, humid 89°F. Observation points were chosen to conduct the 10-minute stops, and later on everyone met up at the Community Center to share their experiences and data.
Of CUBs’ sixteen focal species, nine are residents or migrants in Puerto Rico (see the list below). Of these, the Rock Pigeon and the House Sparrow were the only ones seen, with 21 and 7 sightings, respectively.
- Barn Swallow (migratory, uncommon)
- Baltimore Oriole (migratory in winter, uncommon)
- Peregrine Falcon (migratory, common)
- Black-crowned Night Heron (resident, common)
- House Sparrow (resident, common)
- Killdeer (resident, common)
- Mourning Dove (resident, common)
- Rock Pigeon (resident, common)
- Mallard (often seen in captivity)
Of the total species seen, the most abundant were the Chango or Mozambique (Greater Antillean Grackle) at 45 individuals, the Paloma Casera (Rock Pigeon) at 21, and the Reinita Común (Bananaquit) at 20.
During the arts portion of the day, kids used the sketches they had prepared and started working on higher quality and larger paper, using pastels and oils to paint, and photographs and guidebooks for reference material. To conclude this event, which partnered community members, youth participants, Leaders for the World members, and business partners, we presented each participant with a certificate of appreciation. But it wasn’t really over yet!
Eighth Workshop: Watercolors
Gloriela Muñoz came back in November to help kids who had not yet finished their work or who wanted to add more details. Then she taught them how to use watercolors. A month later, at the Christmas events of Cantera Peninsula, several of these works of art where exhibited for the enjoyment of the whole community, and everyone appreciated a talent show with acting, music, dancing, and singing.
Our brief thoughts on the youth participants
- The response from our participants exceeded expectations both in number and quality of work demonstrated.
- The youngsters committed themselves to the process of preparation with much interest and identified with the project
- They paid due attention to activity directors and engaged in all activities
- They expressed interest in learning more about birds, and participating in similar activities involving environmental conservation and birdwatching in Cantera Peninsula
Proyecto Juan Diego
Weeks before the event, the Texas Junior Naturalists began to study the focal species using the Celebrate Urban Birds materials sent to us as well as the online resources. The children also walked to each observation site to “practice” observing birds before the event. The Junior Naturalists at the event were in each group so that they could help other children to learn about the birds (bird identification, habitat, etc.)
Each room was decorated with the Celebrate Urban Birds Posters along with a “laundry line” with photos and short facts about each of our focus birds. At each station, participants were encouraged to take some time to study the photographs and information about the birds. Each person registered as they came in: signed release forms, received posters from the Celebrate Urban Bird Kits and got a recyclable bag to put their things in.
One group of children who arrived early helped to plant native plants and create a native plant garden. They were also able to attend all the other stations.
Then the first children to arrive went to the Station 1: Bird BINGO. We adjusted the Bird BINGO game so that it had all of the focal species on the cards. This required a bit of work covering up certain birds on each card and replacing them with a picture of the focal species. It was an effective way for the children to learn the names of the birds and what they looked like. The children loved playing and the prizes for winning were plant seeds, bug jars, and things to promote being outdoors.
The next group that arrived went to Station 2: Bird ART. Here each child studied the birds on the “laundry line” and chose their favorite. Then they created that bird with model magic. The children did a really great job paying attention to the details on the birds. These were made into pins that they could share and teach others about their favorite bird.
Those coming in a little later started off at Station 3: Bird Bungalows and Feeders. At this station children made simple bird feeders they could take home and hang in their yards. We also gave the children a small bag of bird seed. The children colored bird feeders that the Jr. Naturalists put together. Bird houses were given to families who attended. Each participant (who arrived on time) was able to spend a half hour at each station. Then the children were given fresh fruit as a snack.
After snack time, which everyone enjoyed, the children learned about what we called the “Bird Bash Birds.” They also learned about becoming citizen scientists through their observations and recording their findings. Everyone (young and old alike) was excited about this opportunity to help the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. They were also happy that the lab would like to know information about the birds in our colonia.
Groups walked to their observation sites to look for birds and returned with their tally sheets. One larger group stayed at Proyecto Juan Diego to learn about and plant native plants. The children and families enjoyed doing this together. Upon returning from their observation stations the children wrote on postcards and the volunteers recorded the group’s findings.
A participant shared her thoughts with us:
“Este programa me encantó. Fui voluntario junto con mi esposo y mi hija de 9 años. Ahora queremos tener und nido para que los pajaritos vengan a nuestra casa y admirarlos. Ahora vamos al parque y vigilamos las aves y las conocemos por nombre. Hemos plantado plantas en casa y mi hija las cuida y les pone agua…”
“I loved this program. I volunteered together with my husband and my nine-year old daughter. Now we want to have a nestbox so that birds come to our house and we can admire them. Since learning the birds by name we go to the park and watch them all the time. We’ve planted plants at home and my daughter takes care of them and waters them…”
Miriam’s Kitchen–a soup kitchen in Washington, DC–pulled off a fabulous event in partnership with Foggy Bottom Garden Club with their homeless clients. The month-long program included: bird yoga, origami, poetry, art, as well learning about the 16 CUBs species and collecting data. They created a bird art and bird poetry gallery. They painted, played with words, and wrote poetry. Most of all, though, they had fun, and the yummy food offered had a definite bird theme!
We laughed out loud when they sent the postcard with “Expressions that include birds”!