Birds of March Break


Oh, March Break, how I love thee. There is nothing more wonderful than trying to conjure up ideas for keeping children occupied so the phrase “I’m bored” never need be spoken. I live by the comeback my mother used on me and my sisters when we were growing up. It sounded something like this, “If you complain that you are bored I will find you something to do”. It usually involved cleaning something or some equally sigh-worthy chore. I rarely hear the term “I’m bored” anymore. Thank goodness…it is highly irritating. Scratches on my nerves like nails on a chalkboard.

I refuse to sign my kids up for all sorts of expensive ventures to keep them from getting bored. Isn’t part of being a kid learning to play? Is that even a word in most kids vocabulary now? We parents are so freaked out about our kids getting dirty or hurt that we hover over them constantly.  I smile inside when my kids come home covered in mud, grass stains or wet from exploring in the creek nearby. They are washable. Don’t get me wrong, I have boundaries that need to be respected but I also think that children need to know that it’s alright to not have an adult dictate what is fun constantly. We adults tend to sign them up for anything that comes along just so they have something to do. There is, of course, the exception of young children when both parents are working outside of the home. Day camps and other structured activities become a necessity in this case. I have been fortunate enough to have been able to be at home with my children but not without making sacrifices to do so. Let me tell you, being a stay-at-home mom has been the hardest thing I have ever done. From the outside looking in it looks like a breeze but it is quite the opposite.

Hanging out and being silly with their friends is at the top of my list of things I like to see my kids doing. When kids spend time with their friends they gain a sense of belonging outside of their family circle and begin to blossom with self-confidence. The sound of laughter from kids is one of the most enjoyable sounds I can think of. OK, the coffee grinder in the morning is a close second.

One of our local shopping malls has had a free educational activity every day this week for all ages. Yesterday was a demonstration by the Ontario Raptor Conservancy with a show about birds of prey. I was going, kids or no kids. I stated that I was leaving at 11:45 am and whoever wanted to join me must be in the car. Works every time!

The man who was giving the demonstration was excellent. Sir, whoever you are, thank you for an engaging experience that kept not only the little kids sitting on the floor riveted but you had me hanging on your every word as well.

If you know me personally (in the real world), you know that I am terrified of birds. Honestly, I really can’t explain my fear. Walking by a parrot on a perch leaves me holding my breath for far too long and walking sideways – no eye contact! I am intrigued by large birds of prey for some reason though. They are incredible creatures. We were only able to view the first half of the demonstration sadly since daughter’s friend wasn’t feeling well so we headed home. The two birds that I was awestruck by were the Turkey Vulture and the Barn Owl. My photos are seriously lacking and I apologize. I was using my Blackberry since I forgot to bring the better camera. Of course, the man beside me had the super-dee-dooper camera with gigundo lens and kept giving me the sideways look. I hope he managed to get some incredible pictures of these beautiful birds.

Let’s start with the Turkey Vulture. The wingspan was impressive to say the least. I believe the speaker stated the wingspan could be six feet across.

A co-worker (and friend) and I joked during the summer that we must be moving too slow when we looked up and saw Turkey Vultures circling overhead. The term “look alive” was never funnier than at that moment!

To learn more about the Turkey Vulture click on the link here.

Turkey Vulture                       Turkey Vulture                  Turkey Vulture

The other bird of prey that captured my heart was the Barn Owl.

Barn Owls in southern Ontario are now critically endangered due to lack of prefered habitat. There is only one mating pair left in the wild. We need to start allowing naturalization of grasslands to give these beautiful birds a place to thrive again.

For more info on the Barn Owl, see this page.

Barn Owl                           Barn Owl in flight

In my mind, these are the interesting tidbits that together make up a great March Break. I’m sure all of the people there that were spellbound by the demonstration would agree.

These types of performances are a great way to bring attention to the importance of these magnificent birds in nature as well as what the Ontario Raptor Conservancy does.

In case you were wondering, none of the birds present were from the wild. They have all been raised in captivity at the conservancy and are used to being with people.

The conservancy also rehabilitates injured birds and releases them back into the wild.  It was uplifting to hear of a group doing so much to help another species and doing no harm.

Time well spent, I’d say.

“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us.  When we see
land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and
respect.”   ~Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

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10 thoughts on “Birds of March Break

  1. Those lines in your second paragraph concerning kids and play are so good. I agree with you on that. It’s a sad day when children start believing that they have to be entertained without any initiative on their part. I remember it was in our play and sitting around in a group and inventing play that built our creativity. The question “what are we going to play” was an exciting one. It meant all sorts of possibilities before us that we could explore. Great post Melissa.

    • Thanks, Don. I remember the question “what are we going to play” always being met with everyone wanting to do something different then creating a list from most to least popular. There was never any lack of ideas. You are correct about play leading to creativity.

  2. You and I approach play the same way. I have been bedgerrd for years to keep my daughter involved in activities lest she become bored. I believe coping with boredom is a life skill. Go outside and get dirty!

    I love turkey vultures by the way. They consume that which is dying and produce waste that is virtually free of bacteria. Their only protective device is to regurgitate on themselves, thereby making themselves unappealing. Gentle enormous birds…

    • It is obvious how much fun a person is having by how dirty they get. I live by this one myself. We all need to let go and live a little!

      Gentle when they are not picking carcasses clean. 😉 Turkey vultures are very unique, indeed.

  3. I think it would be fun to grow up in your house! Raising kids that learn to play and think creatively as their natural way of being when they grow up is a great gift to them…whether they realize it now or not. 🙂 And my mom sounded just like your mom…and she followed through, too.

    • Well, that is the nicest thing you could possibly say Cyndi! My kids probably think I’m a total drag most of the time. They, like most kids their age, spend far too much time in stunned silence playing video games and on their tablets. I encourage them to explore nature and be creative with safety in mind. One of the most well-used sayings that crosses my lips…”safety first”. Having teenagers in the house is far different than when they were really young and I could take them on a hike or to the park and they could spend all day just puttering around doing things as simple as watching blades of grass blow in the breeze or pick up nuts that fell to the ground to see what was inside. I always loved watching them run around with no particular destination, their cheeks jiggling as they ran. So sweet. I need to re-evaluate instilling the love of the outdoors to my kids again.

      I recall the hideous task of picking up the rotten apples that fell from our trees in the backyard as a kid every fall. The wasps were atrocious and the smell of rotting fruit still lingers in my memory to this day. My mom followed through on her task-master threats as well.

  4. I need to work on letting my kids get dirty. I’ve gotten better, and vow to be even better this spring/summer. Actually, it’s not even that I mind them getting dirty. It’s been more the issue that I’ve always had a baby to care for which made it more difficult to get outside with the older one(s) who still needed much supervision. My youngest still needs a lot of supervision, but he can certainly walk by himself which helps. The 2 older ones will definitely be encouraged to get outside more this year.

    • Sometimes it is harder for us than the kids to just relax and get busy with the joy of playing. Your little guy being 2 is a fantastic time to get outside! Hopefully he doesn’t put everything in his mouth which makes your job easier. When my daughter was the age of your girls, she loved skipping and Skip-It (or whatever that lemon on a string that goes around the ankle is called). Once the nice weather arrives there are so many great things to do with the kids outside. Perhaps a tour of all the parks in your city and then choose the family favorite after trying them all out!

      • Haha…a tour of the parks in our “city” would be done in about 2 minutes! But that does remind me that I’d like to get the family to go for walks together in some state parks and other various activities. Tough with the farm, but there is always something. We need to make it a priority and hubby needs to be on board with it! 🙂

      • Not many parks in your city…wow! Ok, scrap THAT idea. Hiking in State parks sounds like a great idea and you definitely need another adult with 3 kidlets on a hike. Living on a farm is a wonderful opportunity for your kids to be outdoors. We used to live in an old farmhouse with an orchard out back and a small wooded lot to the side. The kids were in “heaven” and recall it with fondness. They both wish we still lived in the country. Enjoy while you have the opportunity and your kids are young.

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