On Friday, SPREE took advantage of the beautiful weather and a day-off of school to run our Neat Nesters Holiday Camp. We spent the day learning about Denver animals that make nests- and we found out that plenty of species are nesting creatures! At its most simple definition, nests are places built by animals to provide safety and shelter, especially for their young. With this definition, it is hard to think of an animal that DOESN’T build a nest.
We started our camp day by learning about the animals most commonly thought of when discussing nests- birds. We are lucky in Denver, because there are many unique birds that nest in our City. Campers learned about a few different bird species and the distinct nest types they make. Some Denver nesters include killdeer, flickers, red-tailed hawks, and cliff swallows. After learning about where to look for these bird nests and how they are constructed, campers transformed themselves into mini red-tailed hawks and constructed some nests of their own using recycled papers. Some campers got so into the activity, they made some baby birds that can “hatch” out of eggs in their nests!
The second activity of the day focused on other Denver nesting animals. We started off on a scavenger hunt to look for nest materials or suitable nesting locations. Some animals we learned about that nest are ants, bees, squirrels, and foxes. From our scavenger hunt, we also learned that animals collect things from their environment such as sticks, leaves, or animal fur to construct and insulate their nests. We wrapped up our nest scavenger hunt with a game of “Eagle’s Nest” where one “eagle” needs to protect its egg in its nest from hungry “raccoons” who are trying to steal the egg! Bald eagles nest in Denver, and throughout Colorado. A great place to look for nesting eagles this time of year is in Washington Park!
After lunch, we geared up for a February critter crawl in the South Platte. The air temperature was warm, but the River is still cold this time of year! Before getting into the water, we first hypothesized some River nesters. There are two River nesting animals in particular that campers wanted to investigate- muskrats and beavers. These two animals share many similar traits, but are also very different. Campers completed a Venn diagram of these crepuscular creatures to learn exactly who these River animals are, the types of nests they make, and how to identify the rodents if you’re lucky enough to catch a glimpse of one swimming by!
We ended the day with a game of Nest Jeopardy! Campers had to use their collective knowledge, and remember all they had learned throughout the day to answer questions about some of SPREEs favorite South Platte nesters. As the points increased, the questions got harder… but can you believe that SPREE staff was unable to stump the group?!
Let’s see if you can answer one of the harder questions we asked: Beavers & Muskrats come out at Dawn & Dusk… what is the science word for this behavior?
Did you get it right? Whether you answered correctly or not, SPREE enjoys bringing learners outside to learn more about their city and ecosystem. We hope to see you again soon down by the River!