Saturday, December 4, 2010

Birds in Flight

I was probably more excited then the children to go "behind the scenes" at the museum on Thursday, but the trip was better than I could have ever imagined.  The success of the trip was primarily due to the amazing presentation by Janet, a curator at the museum.  From the minute we walked into the room the children's eyes were wide, taking in the incredible collection of treasures before them.

Janet showed us bird bones and skeletons.  We got to see that bird bones are hollow, to make them lighter for flight, and how a bird's wing has the some of the same bones as a human: humerus, radius and ulna.  Birds even have an elbow, but look at all the other bones they have in their wings.  

She pointed out the wishbone on birds that expands and contracts as the wing goes back and forth, and that the breast bone on a bird  has a part that sticks out to help hold their large breast muscles that are needed in flight.  If you eat chicken or turkey for dinner in the near future, your child is going to want to find the wish bone and try to make a wish, so you better buy a whole bird, not just parts.                                               

We saw how wings have large feathers for flying and smaller soft downy feathers to help birds stay warm.  Janet let us see and feel various bird's wings.  We saw how birds have different shaped wings depending on where they fly.  For example, the end of an owl's wing is blunt so it can fly easily around the trees in the forest.  An albatross has long thin wings so it can glide long distances over the water.

It was almost inconceivable to see all the rows of drawers and think that there were over 100,000 specimens inside.  It was a thrill to stand next to a seven foot ostrich skeleton and an eagle's wing from Panama that was taller than any of the children.

These are just a few of the facts we learned about birds and flight.  I am sure your child will be happy to tell you more about how birds breathe and how many toes an ostrich has...

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