Festival instills bird wisdom

“Chick-a-de-de-de!”

Chirping in the morning or relieving themselves on windshields, birds flutter freely around Mt. Laurel.

Paws Farm Nature Center recently paid homage to the lives of the winged creatures with a Bird Festival.

The festival on Thursday, Aug. 23, helped children learn how to identify birds, listen to the sounds they make, check out their food and learn about the different types of nests that birds intricately weave.

When the youngsters arrived at the brightly colored nature center hued in greens and blues, they were banded like birds and pinned with the bird they would be for the two-hour long festival.

“They get an idea of what it’s like to band birds,” said Educator Pat Gurgul. “Each group will get put in a different bird group.”

The little birdies headed over to the nest room prior to heading outdoors and learned about the different homes that birds fashion.

“The nests are kind of cool,” said Gurgul. “Each bird makes a different kind of nest.”

Robins always create their nests with mud, while chickadees use moss and feathers.

“They line their nests,” she added.

Pointing at another nest in line on a table before the kids sat down, she explained that every tree swallow would create a nest that looks similar.

“We have nests and eggs that they can see here. It’s pretty cool,” she said. “See if they can identify who made that nest.”

After learning about the nests, they got the chance to make their own with some adult helpers.

The Bird Festival has been held once in the past, though not in the last year, explained Gurgul.

She took a course called Flying WILD to gain some ideas for the festival’s events. Other parts of the day came from the staff at Paws Farm, she said.

“We used what we had to make it special,” she added.

The hope was to instill an early love for their new feathered friends.

“Hopefully, some kids will get interested in birds and pay attention to what’s around them,” she said. “It’s a lifelong hobby for a lot of people, if they just start noticing them when they’re kids.”

The day was designed to be fun, Gurgul explained, with hands on crafts and activities.

Stopping between the four stations set up, each child was able to stretch their arms and check to see what their wingspans would be if they were really an avian.

“Then we’re going to go out in the meadow and we’re going to look for real birds but we have pretend birds out there,” she said.

They planned to play a game with the sounds, singing the chick-a-de-de-de soundtrack that the mama bird and baby bird would produce.

Satiated from the learning experience, the kids were to view some parrots and finish off with a snack of dirt cups with worms.

After all, they were channeling birds for the day.

The next big event at the center, said Gurgul, is the Halloween Bash, which will have the meadow open and scarecrows and other mildly spooky items displayed.

In the meantime, kids often head out for story times, crafts and nature activities.

“Sometimes people just come to play and spend the day in nature with the animals,” she said.

Learn more about Paws Farm Nature Center

Paws Farm Nature Center, owned and operated by Mt. Laurel Township, is open year-round Wednesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The center is located at 1105 Hainesport Mt. Laurel Road in Mt. Laurel.

Reach the educators by phone at (856) 778–8795 or by email at contact@pawsfarm.com.

Visit their website for information on upcoming events at http://pawsfarm.com/ or check them out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/paws.farm.