Ryan Trares: For the birds

Be aware birds of central Indiana — somebody’s watching you.

A few weeks back, Anthony’s school sent a note home. A couple of teachers, including Anthony’s, were starting a bird-watching club after school. On Wednesdays throughout the spring, they’d be meeting to learn about birds, get tips on how to identify them, and then go out and see what they could spot.

In between, the teachers would lead the kids in crafts and activities related to our feathered friends.

We thought it was a cool idea to get outdoors as the weather gets nicer, and Anthony agreed. But we had to hurry — the initial note said space was limited, and participants would be picked at random.

So we turned in our sign-up slip, and waited. A few weeks later, Anthony received good news: he was one of about 25 kids to be selected.

Of course, we were all excited, though no one was more elated than Anthony’s grandmother, an avid birdwatcher who has gotten us bird identification books, a birdfeeder for our backyard and binoculars for Anthony. One Saturday during her visit, we spent a good chunk of the day identifying a strange bird swimming in our pond, which turned out to be a lonely loon that somehow found its way to us.

The birdwatching club had its first session this week. We sent Anthony to school with his binoculars, and waited until the end of the day to hear how it all went.

As we waited outside the school, Anthony bounded toward us with a huge smile. The rainy weather had forced the club to stay indoors for their inaugural meeting, meaning there would be no opportunities to tromp around outside looking for red-tailed hawks and cardinals among the trees in the schoolyard.

But not even the wet weather couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm. He couldn’t wait to get into the car and tell me all about it. They had been given notebooks, where they could record the different birds they saw. Though there was no opportunity to spot real birds, the kids watched a video teaching them about chickadees.

Then they got to draw one themselves.

We’re anticipating how the rest of the club meetings will go. The kids will be meeting until the end of the school year, so they should have plenty of opportunities to birdwatch. If the rest of the sessions are as entertaining to Anthony as this first one, it should be a rousing success.

Indeed, he had only one complaint about the club so far.

“The teachers said we were going to have snacks, but they forgot,” he said after I picked him up. “So everyone was really hungry.”

You’ve gotta remember the snacks.

Ryan Trares is a senior reporter and columnist for the Daily Journal. Send comments to [email protected].