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Day Three on St. George

30 Nov 2017, by admin in Education

It’s dark at 8am when the kids show up, and still dark at 9:30am. Everyone starts the day with warm milk to drink, and Bianca had her first lesson in knitting. It was a cozy start to the day. We’ve got to learn the basics in 3 days; luckily she’s a super-quick learner!

The older kids learned about prey availability, and how seabird prey can differ in size, nutritional quality, density, depth, and distance from the colony. We then talked about murres and puffins, and discussed how having a chick in a burrow (puffin) versus on an exposed cliff site could give parents more time to find food. Murre chicks have to be constantly attended on their exposed cliff nest-site, so only one parent at a time can forage.

 

We then headed to the gym. After splitting into two pairs (puffin parents and murre parents), we “foraged” for paper fish spread about the gym. We simulated differences in prey size and distance from the colony, and recorded how much prey the parents brought for their chick. Puffins were able to feed their chick a lot more in a given time, because they could carry multiple fish in their bill and both parents can forage at the same time.   They even out-competed the murres (getting the last available fish), despite Maurice being such a fast murre!

After snacks and some outside stretches and running, the twins each made a kite decorated as a kittiwake. They had fun coloring while we talked about kittiwake biology and how cool they are. And, amazingly, the kites kept intact during their maiden flight in heavy winds!

After lunch, we honed down our binocular skills with an Alaska Maritime National Willdlife Refuge game. Nine photos of seabirds were put out at a distance, and each bird had a label with one of two upper case letters. We all identified the birds, and recorded the letters in the correct order. Put together, they spelled a hidden seabird message “The Ocean Is My Habitat”. I’m so impressed by everyone’s identification skills.

Waylon and I finished the school day making some bread-dough to rise overnight.