January 2014 marks the second year of “From Egg to Eagle” at NH, an environmental education initiative. Children of all ages are learning about birds in natural and urban habitats through observation, field trips to the International Crane Foundation, Horicon Marsh, Milwaukee County Zoo, and summer research conducted in partnership with Cornell University’s Ornithology Research Lab.
It was a great day for eagle watching at the 27th Annual Eagle Days in Sauk City and Prairie du Sac. NH’s first Family Adventure — a new monthly series of Saturday nature outings for parents and kids — launched with a fun-filled trip to these two cities on the Wisconsin River which share the distinction of having “perfect” habitats for the bald eagle. Bald eagle populations, once greatly endangered, have rebounded thanks to the efforts of environmentalists, from just 108 occupied nests in Wisconsin in 1973, to 1,343 in 2013, the highest number ever recorded. In the Sauk City area, more than 340 eagles over-wintered this season.
Neighborhood House Environmental Educator Niki Espy and Intern Christina Hill took a small but eager group to see these majestic birds. The youngest participant, 7 year old Nene, came with her grandmother, both of whom had never seen an eagle before. They were not disappointed: up-close encounters with a captive bald eagle and a turkey vulture, coupled with the thrill of seeing eight rehabilitated bald eagles released back into the wild made it a memorable learning experience for all. Family Adventures are funded by Milwaukee Public School’s (MPS) Partnership for the Arts and Humanities.
Earlier this winter, some of NH’s youngest children got a special gift of birds when the grandparents of participant Verlie Mae donated a collection of Audubon Plush Birds for her classroom. The toys feature authentic bird sounds provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and help young children learn more about the creatures they’ll encounter outdoors. The gift was in memory of Verlie Mae’s great-grandmother for whom she was named, a woman whose knowledge and love of birds will live on in her great-granddaughter.
For more on how NH kids are connecting with nature – and a glimpse of NH intern Christina Hill in action – see this US Forest Service Urban Connections video and article.