Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Extracurricular Activities

Where I teach my vast army of young adults....
Who says you can't bird and work at the same time?  This year I've adopted my school grounds as a place to keep records.
Cactus Wren
Every Friday morning, I'll take a walk around campus and count birds.  At first, I was detained by a new security guard who didn't know who I was.  While it is quite humorous now, I don't think I was smiling at the time.  I have been working at my site since the school opened up.  As the police put it..."Thank you for testing out our security measures."
Students, of course, also see me counting the birds and tell me all about their own birds that they've seen.  They've taken pictures and shown me everything from a "cool" bird to a dead bird.  Teenagers:)  But at least they're learning a little else beyond Spanish:)
Costa's Hummingbird
The mornings are the best time to count the birds.  Before the bell rings, I walk around the near mile perimeter campus and discover new birds.  Our school sits on top of a wash that is home to some amazing birds.
White-winged Dove
The hot bird now on campus belongs to the Great Horned Owl.  They'll be listed in our yearbook as "Most daring" for their constant need to nest on the ledge in front of everyone during lunch time.  2000 students.  5 Great Horned Owls.
Gila Woodpecker
I sometimes leave my camera at home because it's not convenient to bring to school.  It's one extra thing I have to watch while running around the campus.
Canyon Towhee
I'd find amazing birds like the Swainson's and Dusky Flycatcher and yet not have a camera!  One blustery day, the Dusky Flycatcher flew into our school garden and I watched the bird in horror as it was quite near my classroom window.  With my camera, I would have taken some amazing shots.  The whole time, I'm saying, "No, no, no, nooooooooo." The bird flew off.  The students were giggling. But I added a new species to my bird list for the year:)
Curve-billed Thrasher
HUGE Common Ravens nest at our school site.  There are two and they've been with us for a long time. They enjoy the spoils of the messy children at lunch.  When the kids go to class, the birds come to feast!
Common Raven
The Great Horned Owls have raised many owlets over the years.  Some unfortunately die while others survive.
Great Horned Owl-taken by my friend Sally Hansen
It's amazing how much everything has changed since I've become a birder.  Every place I visit now is one incredible bird adventure. Work has become fun on my off time. 
Greater Roadrunner
The data I collect for my "patch" is invaluable.  And it's also opening up my eyes to the life that survives around two thousand mischievous teenagers:)
One of the owlets at our school
Do you ever bird from your work site?

Oh and one last thing.  Our school mascot is the Nighthawk.  Now we have two seen here....the Common and Lesser Nighthawks.  During graduation, hundreds of these birds fly around our lights while our next generation of young adults collect their diplomas. 
Lesser Nighthawk-our school mascot
"Be the change you wish to see in the world."  Ghandi


  1. i've seen those nighthawks over stadium lights at night. so cool. love that you birdwatch around work.

  2. Greater Roadrunner wygląda na bardzo ciekawskiego ptaka . Miłą masz pracę i jesteś wśród młodych ludzi. Pozdrawiam.
    Greater Roadrunner looks very curious bird. Nice you have a job and you are among young people. Yours.

  3. Wow, you have some cool birds at your school. The owls and nighthawk are my favorite. I wish I could do some great birding from where I work. Great post and photos, Chris!

  4. Wow... Cactus Wren, that's a new one for me. what an interesting bird!!

  5. Nice to incorporate work and birding. Please bring a camera even if just a P&S. Yes, I do bird at work, and I get paid for it.

    1. :) That's actually a good idea. I do have a p and s that I could use. Never thought about that. Thanks for the idea-er!

  6. Great post and using time to observe many common birds and their behaviors. You have a great variety at your school. I did notice that one of your photos is mis-named, Canyon Wren is actually a Canyon Towhee. Sounds like something I would do!

    1. OMG!!! LOL!!! I do that all the time with this bird!! I think it's because I hope to actually get a good shot of the Canyon Wren one day. Each time I see it, I'm not quick enough!:)

  7. Great shots Chris. Your school has some prime birds!

    1. Hi there!! I've gotten some of my first of the year birds there like the Ash-throated and Dusky Flycatchers! Now if only those Pygmy Owls would return and nest:)

  8. I am not shooting them at work or at home, but they are there. Shooting is not my fault but my camera's! It doesn't mean i don't watch them because they use a lot of my time. Underneath my 5th floor window is a tree and a few birds always visit, of course the common small ones are there too. But you are privileged to do what you want in the same setting! What do you teach, by the way?

    1. Spanish:) Sometimes when I get frustrated at it all, I just step back and look at the big picture....and realize, I do have a great job that is supportive of my creativity. Plus I still like the students.

  9. Great post Chris with some lovely photos :) Wonderful to hear of your bird sightings at work - had to smile at the "security" incidence. I've been trying to get a peregrine falcon sighting on a large building where I know they nest but it is so embarrassing sitting in a car in a car park with binoculars trained on the back of an office block :) I live in dire dread of security turning up!!

    One of the things I love about birding is that you can watch birds anywhere - even city centres have some species :)

  10. The pic number 3...Ilove the color(the bird)great shots...

  11. It must be very reassuring to know that the security at school works - even if it does catch the innocent too!

    What an absolutely brilliant variety of birds you have at your place of work, and some excellent photos too! Other than the Raven, the only one of these I've ever seen before is the Roadrunner, and that was from a train window in Mexico.

    Yep. a P&S sounds like a good backup tool. The camera on a phone just doesn't cut it for bird photography! Useful for recording site information though.

  12. Hi Chris~you have some great birds at your school! Love the GHO shots! They do seem to pick some dangerous spots to nest!

  13. How cool it is that you do this! What a great inspiration you are to all those kids!!! I am amazed at all of the birds you find around the school! Isn't it great how we can increase our happiness so much by stopping to smell the roses, so to speak!!!

  14. How delightful! You have a great many birds there on campus, and so many easily seen by the students. I love it!


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