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Posted April 12, 2016

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Valle Vista Learns about Valle de Oro

Fourth graders are becoming quite the experts on birds of the nearby wildlife refuge, even mimicking their calls.

Not far from Valle Vista Elementary is a national wildlife refuge that shares part of the school's name. Valle de Oro along the Rio Grande is the Southwest's first urban wildlife refuge, connecting students like those in Terri Dawson's fourth grade class to the natural world.

Tune in to The Children's Hour on KUNM 89.9 FM at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 23, to hear the students in Ms. Dawson's class talk about the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge and the birds that live there. 

The Friends of the the Refuge along with Audubon New Mexico's Birds of a Feather Explore Together have provided Ms. Dawson's and other fourth grade classes at Valle Vista, as well as some at Mountain View Elementary, the means to visit the refuge a couple of times during the school year. The students hike through the primitive terrain that once was a dairy farm, sitting on tree stumps in an outdoor classroom and learning about birds in the area and the web of life. 

The students also meet with naturalists in their classrooms who provide hands-on lessons on bird habits and habitats. The kids in Ms. Dawson's class were fascinated by the fur, skeletons and feathers they discovered in owl pellets, trying to piece them to together to figure out what the had feasted on.

The students used what they learned about the birds to write five-paragraph essays and poems. They're in the process is developing Prezi presentations that they'll share later this week.

Some facts they like to share:

  • Birds that migrate along the bosque face many dangers including domestic cats and fences.
  • Some of those migrating birds include Canada (not Canadian) geese, named for a man, not the country.
  • Woodpeckers eat beetles out of trees.

And one "grosstastic" fact that makes them giggle is how mistletoe ends up growing on the sides of trees. We'll spare you the details; let's just say its berries don't break down when birds eat them. Ask the kids if you want to know more.

And ask them what birds are native to this area. They'll rattle off their names, and even mimic their calls. And they'll share how they're now spotting them around their homes and even at school -- pipits, hawks, cranes, owls and more.

A few of the students shared bird calls with us:

Valle Vista Learns about the Valle de Oro from APS in Motion on Vimeo.

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