Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Exploring Barn Swallow Babies {SOL 8.16.16}

I'm a little bit of a bird fanatic. Living in the country will do that to you.

In the spring, I love to watch the bird feeder outside our front window to see who is visiting. I will often find cardinals, woodpeckers, and yellow finches all hanging out together.

Later in the summer, I become fascinated by the barn swallow.
It is a beautiful bird and it flies with such grace and ease. It swoops down to catch insects and can turn on a dime or reverse directions easily. It's fun to watch!

When the baby barn swallows are old enough to leave the nest (about 3 weeks old), they like to fly up and sit on the gutter on the backside of my house. I often will wake up to the sound of their singing to the rising sun. They are fluffy and their beaks are too large for their faces. I just love them!
I sat for a few minutes and watched the babies and saw how the feeder bird (both moms and dads -- and older brothers and sisters) bring insects to the baby. As they approach, the baby will stop its singing and wait with its mouth open. The feeder bird swoops in, drops the insect in the baby's mouth, then flies away. It never stops to rest during feeding, it all happens on the go. Pretty impressive!

Yesterday as I was cutting the grass, the barn swallows were swooping around me. I used to think they were trying to dive bomb me when they did that, but I now realize they are catching the insects that fly up from the grass as I pass over with the mower.

Here are a few interesting facts I found about the barn swallow:

* A male barn swallow who has not found a mate will often destroy the eggs in a nest as a way of "breaking up" the mated couple to try to steal the woman bird. (How rude!)

* Legend has it that the reason the barn swallow's tail is so forked is that it stole fire from the gods to bring it to earth for man. As it was flying away, the gods threw a flaming spear at the bird, singeing the middle of its tail as it flew.

* Barn swallows mate in the air. (That's talent!)

* They can fly up to 600 miles in one day.

* They can live up to 10 years. 

* Legend says that the first person to see the barn swallow return after winter will have good luck all year long.

My curiosity about my favorite summer bird led me to find these interesting facts.  Then it dawned on me that these facts would make a great exploratory notebook that Ralph Fletcher describes in his book:
I'm looking forward to sharing my notebook with my students to show them how our personal interests and curiosities lead us to writing topics.

But for now, I hear the birds chatting so I've got to go!


15 comments:

  1. I bet your students will be inspired by your writing and will want to pursue their own topics once they see you work.

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  2. I love how you took us from notice to wonder to discovery-all in the learning process that makes us inquisitive learners and writers, Jennifer.

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  3. I love the facts you shared and I think it's awesome that you have connected your passion to your classroom. You've inspired me to take an extra look at the birds that hang out around my house.

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  4. I love that you started a notebook and that a desire to write and record came out of your interest in birds. I'm looking forward to seeing how the notebook goes for you. Fascinating facts about barn swallows!

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  5. I love that you started a notebook and that a desire to write and record came out of your interest in birds. I'm looking forward to seeing how the notebook goes for you. Fascinating facts about barn swallows!

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  7. I love this post!! First, you taught me so much about this bird!! Then you reminded me that when it is something we naturally are curious about, we will read and take notes and teach others. And you are the 3rd person to mention this book by Ralph Fletcher, a favorite author of mine so maybe I need to buy it! Thanks for the reminder. Since you like birds, you might like reading and seeing the video I took of hummingbirds while on vacation. I blogged about it here: https://readandwritebysally.wordpress.com/2016/07/25/vacationing-in-roatan-honduras/
    Happy Birding!!

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  8. I love this post!! First, you taught me so much about this bird!! Then you reminded me that when it is something we naturally are curious about, we will read and take notes and teach others. And you are the 3rd person to mention this book by Ralph Fletcher, a favorite author of mine so maybe I need to buy it! Thanks for the reminder. Since you like birds, you might like reading and seeing the video I took of hummingbirds while on vacation. I blogged about it here: https://readandwritebysally.wordpress.com/2016/07/25/vacationing-in-roatan-honduras/
    Happy Birding!!

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  9. I love this!!! I need to get that book. Are you familiar with "Keeping a Nature Journal" by Clare walker Leslie & Charles E. Roth. I love it and think it would go great with an exploratory notebook, at least one that is about nature.

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  10. I love this post! The writing about small things around our lives. The researching to find out just a little bit more about things. I did the same about the plants in my garden this week. Alice Nine shared your post with me. Thanks Alice! I also have the Keeping a Nature Journal book. Great fun to read and work with.

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  11. I love this post! The writing about small things around our lives. The researching to find out just a little bit more about things. I did the same about the plants in my garden this week. Alice Nine shared your post with me. Thanks Alice! I also have the Keeping a Nature Journal book. Great fun to read and work with.

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  12. I can totally relate to your fascination with your barn swallows! I enjoyed learning about them, especially the legend of how they got their forked tail. I've spent a great deal of time observing and writing about the birds who visit my bird feeders. I've written poems, posts and even an apology poem. They have inspired me to research as well. I'm definitely going to have to check out the Ralph Fletcher book you reference and the idea of exploratory notebooks. Great post! Thanks!

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  13. I can totally relate to your fascination with your barn swallows! I enjoyed learning about them, especially the legend of how they got their forked tail. I've spent a great deal of time observing and writing about the birds who visit my bird feeders. I've written poems, posts and even an apology poem. They have inspired me to research as well. I'm definitely going to have to check out the Ralph Fletcher book you reference and the idea of exploratory notebooks. Great post! Thanks!

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  14. I love your stories! That Ralph Fletcher, he's got the "writing" ideas! Have fun using your new notebook, and exploring your world. (Jennifer Sniadecki)

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  15. Love the close observation and learning you shared with us. An exploratory notebook sounds like so much fun! Glad to see you pursuing a passion so you can share it with your students. Happy back-to-school!

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