By Lisa B. Flowers, FAS Conservation Educator

Learning how to really focus a pair of binoculars, what features of a bird make it able to fly and why some flap and others soar, whether to in invest in a bird guide or download an app to use on your smart phone, learning common birds from their silhouettes, learning to train your ear to identify a bird by its call. These are a few of the birding basics our 26 senior students are learning about in the Birds of Northwestern Montana at FVCC. Volunteer class speakers include Bob Lee, Kathy Ross, Kari Gabriel, Denny Olson, and Joe & Lana Batts.

Jan Metzmaker joined Lisa Flowers to provide an opportunity for all ages to use the new Eagle Optics binoculars to view the live birds from Wildwings at the Children’s House Montessori Interactive Children’s Concert fundraiser at Muldown School in Whitefish. Our Flathead Audubon Society educational booth also had several bird skins, hummingbirds and a beautiful nest for the children and their parents to get an up close look. Brochures and 2016 Nature Reference Calendar were available to those who were interested. Children’s House Montessori School administrator, Jennifer Bush, stated, “your educational display added to the excitement and interest of our entire event.”

North Valley Head Start program students ages 3 – 5 spent a month learning how to identify the parts of a bird with the FAS bird identification educational trunks. They loved the wearing the bird costumes. Lisa went to their school in Columbia Falls to do two programs using the “Changing My Neighborhood” story and felt board along with the stuffed toy birds and bird puppets. The students were able to name all the parts of the birds with each other and loved telling their own stories about the birds they have seen around their neighborhoods. It was fabulous!

West Valley and Flathead County Science Fairs took place in early March with Linda deKort, Denny Olson and Lisa Flowers participating as judges and selecting the FAS Naturalist Awards. Luke Ritzdorf from Kalispell Middle School was the awarded the honor for his project Using a Towable Conductivity Mapping System to Locate Springs or Septic Leachate presented at the Flathead County Science Fair. This award recognized Luke’s excellent participation in the science fair and for using good scientific technique in asking questions that might shed light on understanding our local wildlife and the habitats that we all depend on. Luke also received a check to purchase the iBird app or other bird app of his choosing, he is considering extending his science project to include organisms that live in and near the water bodies. Other students who included their interest in the outdoors, good exploratory questions, and scientific knowledge were awarded a 2016 Nature Reference Calendar accompanied with a note from FAS.

There are many exceptional upcoming educational opportunities in April, May, and June! If you are or anyone you know are interested in volunteering or learning more contact Lisa Flowers, 406-781-1721, Your interest, support, and participation in FAS’s Conservation Education Program are much appreciated!!