Monday, December 20, 2010

Bird of the Week XlV - Monday, December 20th, 2010

This week's "Bird of the Week" is the Cooper's hawk. As the backyard bird feeding season gets underway, be on the outlook for this fleet hawk dashing into your feeding station and grabbing a bird for a meal! The Cooper's hawk is a medium sized hawk with rounded wings and a long tail. Adults are steely blue-gray above with warm reddish bars on the underparts and thick dark bands on the tail. Juveniles are brown above and crisply streaked with brown on the upper breast. Cooper's hawk and Sharp-shinned hawks can be difficult to tell apart. Here is an article that points out the differences between the two hawks.

The Cooper's hawk rarely flaps its' wings continuously when flying, but rather flies with a flap - flap - glide pattern.

Cooper's hawks frequent wooded habitats from deep forests to leafy subdivisions and backyards. They use their long tail like a rudder so that they can maneur quickly through trees, bushes, etc. in pursuit of its prey - small birds. An attack maneuver they will sometimes use is to fly fast and low to the ground, then up and over an obstruction to surprise prey on the other side.

First photo from:
Second photo from All About Birds.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bird of the Week Xlll - Monday, December 13th, 2010

This week's "Bird of the Week" is the Northern mockingbird. The Mockingbird is a medium sized songbird, about 8 - 10 inches long with a wingspan of about 12 - 14 inches. It is pale gray above and whitish below, with a long tail. It has a thin bill. The Mockingbird has two white wingbars and large white patches show in the wings when it flies.

The Northern Mockingbird is known for its long, complex songs that include imitations of many other birds. It is a common bird of hedgerows and suburbs, and has been slowly expanding its range northward. The Northern Mockingbird is a loud and persistent singer. It sings all through the day, and often into the night.

The Mockingbird is found in areas with open ground and shrubby vegetation, such as in parkland, cultivated land, and suburbs. It eats insects and fruit. The male and female birds look alike.
Photos from All About Birds.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bird of the Week - Xll Monday, December 6th, 2010

This week's "Bird of the Week" is the Wild turkey. If you have ever seen a Wild turkey, you can't miss it! They have a bronzy iridescence to their body feathers and their wing feathers are barred black and white. The male is much larger with a more prominent beard, and it's head and neck are completely bare, often with a blueish color and with red wattles. A wattle, or beard, is the skin that hangs from the turkey's throat.

The male Turkey, called a tom, gobbles to attract females, called hens. When she appears, he struts around her. He has his tail fanned and held up vertically, lowers his wings so that the wingtips drag on the ground, raises the feathers on his back, throws his head back onto his back with the bill forward, and inflates his crop. He makes occasional deep "chump" sounds, followed by a low "humm," and accompanied by a rapid vibration of his tail feathers. During the strut his facial skin engorges and the colors intensify, especially the white forehead.
Baby turkeys are called "poults." The male Wild Turkey provides no parental care. When the eggs hatch, the chicks follow the female. She feeds them for a few days, but they quickly learn to feed themselves. Several hens and their broods may join up into bands of more than 30 birds. Winter groups have been seen to exceed 200.

The Wild turkey was a main part of Native Americans and early settlers diet. By 1857, there were no more Wild turkey's in Massachusetts due to over hunting. In 1972 and 1973, the Massachusetts Department of Wildlife released 37Wild turkey's that were captured in New York into western Massachusetts. These turkeys survived and bred and between 1979 and 1996, Mass wildlife officials trapped more than 500 turkeys in the Berkshires(western Mass) and released them elsewhere in the state. Today, there are an estimated 20,000 Wild turkeys in Massachusetts

Monday, November 29, 2010

Density – Is All Water the Same?

Density – Is All Water the Same?

1. Which is denser, warm water or cold water?
2. Which is denser, salt water or fresh water?

Bird of the Week - Xl Monday, November 29th

This weeks' "Bird of the Week" is the Hairy woodpecker. The Hairy woodpecker is one of the most common woodpeckers in North America. It comes readily to feeders where it will eat suet(beef fat) and seeds. The hairy woodpecker is a medium-sized woodpecker, about 7 - 10 inches long with a wingspan of approximately 13 - 16 inches. It's plumage (feathers) are black and white with a plain black back. It's bill is thick and rather long. The male has a red patch on back of it's head while the female has a black patch.

Identifying a Hairy woodpecker from a Downy woodpecker can be tricky. One of the best ways to tell them apart is to look at the proportion of the bill to the head length when viewed from the side. The Hairy Woodpecker's bill is usually greater than one-half the depth of the head. The Downy woodpecker (BOW #4) has a bill less than one-half the depth of the head. Click here to see a good article about telling the two birds apart.
Photos from All About Birds.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Turkey Trot 2010!

A long standing Parker tradition, the "Turkey Trot" was held this morning.  This annual event has been held for at least the past 35 years.  It is similar to Pin the Tail on the Donkey, only now it is Pin the Wattle on the Turkey!  There are 3 winners, one from each grade.  A monetary donation is made in their name to "Turkeys 4 America". 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Liquid Densities

                                           Liquid Densities

Follow the directions below step-by-step. Record your observations on the lines provided.

1. Gather all of the materials and then read all of the procedures.
2. Pour approximately 3cm of liquid A into the test tube.
3. Pour approximately 3cm of liquid B into the test tube. Describe what happens.

4. Pour approximately 3 cm of liquid C into the test tube. Describe what happens and what the column of water now looks like.

5. Pour approximately 3cm of liquid D into the test tube. Describe what happens and what the column of water now looks like.

6. On the back of this sheet, sketch the test tube with the 4 different liquids in them. Label each layer with its name and density.

7. Gently shake up the test tube and then put it back into the test tube rack and let it settle for approximately 5 minutes. Describe what the column of water looked like when you shook it up and what it looked like after 5 minutes.

8. Why do you think the 4 liquids layered out like they did?

Bird of the Week X

This week's "Bird of the Week" is the Dark-eyed junco. The Junco is a medium sized sparrow that is gray with a black hood and a white belly. It has white, outer tail feathers that are quite visible when it flies. It's eyes are dark, it's legs are pink, and it's bill is "whiteish". The male and females look similar with the females being a little more paler and browner.

The first photograph is of a male and the second photograph is of a female.

Junco's are the "snowbirds" of our area, appearing around here only in the winter. They are very common at back yard bird feeders and will sometimes appear in flocks of 25 birds or more. The Junco feeds primarily on the ground, scratching the ground looking for insects and seeds.

Photos taken from All About Birds.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Determining Density

The students have been hard at work learning about density.  They are using the formula Density = Mass/Volume or D=M/V.  The units are grams per cubic centimeter or g/cm3.  We have used the skills we learned earlier in the year about how to find the volume of a cube using the formula LxWxH and of finding the volume of an irregular shaped object by displacement.  We have used pan balance scales and electronic digital scales as well.
We did an activity called "Massing Water" to determine that the density of fresh water at room temperature is 1.0 g/cm3.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bird of the Week lX - Monday, November 15th, 2010

This week's "Bird of the Week" is the Red-tailed hawk.   The Red-tailed hawk is the most common and widespread hawk in North America. It is a bird of open country, but also frequents woodlots and suburban backyards. It is frequently seen sitting on utility poles where it watches for rodents in the grass along the roadside.
This large hawk has long and broad wings. It's wing span is between 45 - 52 inches. That's 4 1/2 feet! The tail is broad and red and most commonly has a pale chest and dark band across it's belly.

The Red-tailed hawk is a sit-and-wait predator, usually watching from elevated perch and then flying down to capture small and medium-sized mammals, birds, and reptiles. It will take young birds and squirrels out of their nests sometimes.
Around here, the Red-tailed hawks' nest is a large bowl of sticks in tall tree. You may also see their nest atop of a utility (light) pole along the highway.

While many eastern Red-tailed hawks migrate, there is a sizable number that live around here year-round.  These photos were taken in October, 2009 right outside my classroom window!  This hawk caught and ate a Gray squirrel.
Photos by Mr. Williams