Whacky Woodpeckers wow families and loads of third graders.

Earth Week and Arbor Day fall close together on the calendar.  This allows partnerships between cities and community organizations to provide entertaining and educational opportunities for the public to learn how to protect our natural resources.  On April 24 and 25, the City of Mission Viejo, CA hosted two events to do just that.  The Cavity Conservation Initiative participated in both.

On Environmental Eduction Day, third graders from nearby schools arrived in busloads to the City’s Senior Center’s beautifully designed outdoor space to play, listen and learn about their impact on the natural world and how to be good stewards.

The Cavity Conservation Initiative provided four thirty-minute programs titled Whacky Woodpeckers.  The take-away message was that people need to safely retain more dead and dying trees because of the many benefits they provide to wildlife, but especially to woodpeckers and other cavity-nesting birds.

To come to sound conclusions, kids were charged to think like scientists.  They were given several clues provided by naturalist, Gillian Martin.   Among those clues were a hollowed out section of wood with a large round hole,  a section of a log with shallow tunnels and many small holes, and a rotting log with countless acorns jammed in tight holes.  A very long “tongue” tipped with a small “bayonet” was a bewildering clue!  Kids eventually reasoned their way into recognizing that woodpeckers need such tongues to reach for and grasp insects deep inside decaying wood.  “Adaptations” became a new vocabulary word for some youngsters.

Arbor Day allowed families to attend an outdoor event at a local high school where they were treated to music and free food while they visited many booths that promoted water conservation, product recycling, sustainable living, “green” artwork, etc.   All the while, volunteers planted a nearby slope with plants that require little water.

The booth of the Cavity Conservation Initiative looked at times like a bee hive. Children crowded around to play Rocks in My Socks, Blocks in my Box and other fun games all of which delivered the message that dead trees are an important and an undervalued natural resource.  Woodpeckers again stole the show in that message.  Perceptions were changed, meaning that more people will look at a dying tree with new eyes.

IMG_6258 DSCN2493DSCN2469 (1)


About the Author