Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Clay-colored Thrush’

By Heather Moir, fourth grade teacher at Summit School

The Clay-colored Thrush is a tropical bird whose northernmost range extends to southern Texas. My fourth graders can tell you from first-hand observation that it is an aggressive bird (“a bully”), who won’t share bananas with any other birds. They know this detail about tropical bird behavior from watching Cornell’s Panama Fruit Feeder Cam – a live camera feed from Panama that shows a fruit feeding station that brings in tropical birds.

A Clay-colored Thrush at the feeder

A Clay-colored Thrush at the feeder

I began putting the Panama fruit feeder cam on the Smart Board as the children arrived in the mornings. The live camera feed also includes audio, and the tropical bird sounds were calming first thing in the morning. But the camera served as background and nothing more.

Then one morning the Toucans arrived. They were big. They were colorful. They were impressive. The children were excited. I was pretty excited myself. From then on, we began paying closer attention to the fruit feeder camera. That’s when some of the kids noticed the tawny-colored bully bird who chased the smaller colorful birds away from the bananas. They asked what kind of bird it was. I had no idea. We checked out a field guide to the birds of Panama from our library and discovered it was a Clay-colored Thrush.

A big, beautiful Yellow-throated Toucan in the trees above the feeders

A big, beautiful Yellow-throated Toucan in the trees above the feeders

A few days later, one boy was intrigued with the bird with the bright yellow feathers at the base of its tail. He paused the computer so he could look it up in the field guide. The field guide was set up with pictures and numbers that had to be cross-referenced to find the bird’s name. So he asked me for help. When I pointed to the bird’s name in the book, his eyes got big and I could see the wheels turning. The bird’s name was almost too much for a fourth grade boy to handle – it was a Flame-rumped Tanager. “Seriously?” he asked. Then, because he couldn’t help himself, “You mean his name means “fire booty?” He couldn’t be expected to hold it in after all. Yes, I confirmed, that’s its name.

A male Flame-rumped Tanager enjoys a banana

A male Flame-rumped Tanager enjoys a banana

Since then, the Flame-rumped Tanager and his mate have made repeat appearances at the fruit feeder. We have also seen a flock of Gray-headed Chachalacas (at least a dozen), who throw the bananas around carelessly as they feed. We are still hoping the Toucans will come back.

Mrs. Flame-rumped Tanager bathes in a nearby stream

Mrs. Flame-rumped Tanager bathes in a nearby stream

I am hopeful that somehow an interest in birds and nature has been sparked. I am grateful to Cornell for these wonderful webcams that make nature watching so accessible. And I am especially grateful to whoever named some of our birds with names that are so appealing to ten-year-olds. One day soon I will let the children know that they may be able to find Yellow-rumped Warblers right in their own backyards!

All photos by Shelley Rutkin

 

Read Full Post »