2017-03-18 / Features

BIRDS OF A FEATHER

Library hosts N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences’ program about birds
story and photos by vicki berry
lifestyle editor


Eliza Mae Clayton practices using binoculars prior to going outside to observe birds. Eliza Mae Clayton practices using binoculars prior to going outside to observe birds. The library was all a twitter on the afternoon of Thursday, March 9, when it hosted the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences’ “Birds of a Feather” program.

Karen Polk with the North Carolina museum presented children with information about our feathered friends, including what makes them different from other animals and humans.

“Our goal at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is to develop interest in the natural world around them,” said Polk, referring to the children in attendance.

Polk’s presentation at the Person County Public Library, which was sponsored by Sheetz, included drawings, illustrations, a skeleton of a bird, and a stuffed owl. There was also a display showing the several different types of feet that birds have and a display of a variety of books about birds, which are available at the library for patrons to check out.


Following the indoor presentation, Karen Polk leads the children outdoors for first hand experience at observing birds. 
photo submitted by Amanda Weaver Following the indoor presentation, Karen Polk leads the children outdoors for first hand experience at observing birds. photo submitted by Amanda Weaver “We are here to talk about birds,” Polk told her audience. “Why do you like birds?” she asked.

The youngsters answered with a variety of reasons — because they fly, fun to watch, many bright colors and birds are different from people.

In addition to birds, there is one mammal that can fly — a bat, explained Polk, while showing a photo indicating the difference between the bird’s wing and a bat’s wing, as well as some of the similarities.

She introduced the youth to some of the words that are used to describe a bird’s anatomy, including pygostyle, which is the tail bone, a keel bone and a wishbone, which is similar to a human’s collar bone. Birds have a good respiratory system, which allows them to fly all night long or over the ocean for days, for example, explained Polk. Birds have air sacs and the air spreads throughout the bird’s body allowing the animal to make the most of every breath, she said.


Four-year-old Lani Brady gets an up close look at the stuffed owl. Four-year-old Lani Brady gets an up close look at the stuffed owl. Polk passed around samples of two different types of feathers — a flight feather and downy feathers from an owl.

Flight feathers are different from downy feathers because it is stiff and moves air, whereas downy feathers are soft and can keep you warm, she explained.

And birds preen, or clean their feathers, to make the feathers lay correctly for flying, she added.

The children were also introduced to some of the sounds of birds, including an owl, eagle and a hawk.

If you listen carefully, in some movies, you will see an eagle but you will hear the sound of a hawk, she said, as she provided the sound of each while in flight to note the difference in the flight vocalizations.


Polk passes around the skeleton of a bird for the youngsters to see. Polk passes around the skeleton of a bird for the youngsters to see. Using a tape measure, Polk demonstrated the diameter of an eagle’s nest, which can be as much as six feet wide, she explained.

Following the presentation, Polk passed out to each of the children a pair of binoculars with the instruction, “The first thing you do is put the strap around your neck.”

The children were instructed on the use of the binoculars prior to going outside to the library patio and yard in order to find both real and “practice birds” that had been placed outdoors for observation by the fledgling birdwatchers.



Six-year-old Joshua Lara asks a question about the owl. Six-year-old Joshua Lara asks a question about the owl.

Alaina Green and Zaley Dillard, along with Youth Services Librarian Amanda Weaver check out the displays as Polk shows them a duck’s foot. Alaina Green and Zaley Dillard, along with Youth Services Librarian Amanda Weaver check out the displays as Polk shows them a duck’s foot.

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