The beginning of the week greeted the Nuthatches with freshly fallen snow and a new animal to get to know. Opening Circle started with a new birdie song with big wing flaps and motions to get the flock moving.

Way up in the sky, the little birdies fly

While down in the nest, there sleeps all the rest

Shhhh, they’re sleep-ing.

The sun rises up,

The dew goes away

Good morning, good morning, the little birdies say.


But the animal for this week didn’t get up in the morning and go to sleep at night. It’s nocturnal and uses its big eyes to find its prey in the dark. Can you figure out the mystery animal? It’s an owl! The Nuthatches learned how to use their “owl eyes” to look around, pay attention, and find things in the forest.

Once at camp, Will explained that owls need big nests to live in and sometimes will keep building on their nest for years. The Nuthatches used their owl eyes to find new branches and sticks for our own owl nest to shelter in. The flock found two sturdy ‘y’ branches and a third long branch to build a shelter in our new camp. It was so strong, Will could even hang from it!

At slunch, we read the book “Wolf Island” while we warmed up around the fire and learned about how different animals and plants are connected to each other. The relationships between all the pieces of nature are so important, especially for staying alive and warm in the winter!

Suddenly, a noise broke through the quiet of the snowy forest. Who-cooks-for-you? Was it an owl? The Nuthatches called back with their Barred Owl sound they learned, trying to find the source of the call. Who-cooks-for-you? They ran through the forest until they found Nora hiding behind a tree! Using their hoots and their owl ears, the Nuthatches found the source of the mysterious noise as we played Hide-and-Hoot. 

On Wednesday, thick snow fell from the sky. As big flakes blanketed the ground in a fresh layer of white, the Nuthatches made sure to keep moving to stay warm. We practiced our flying, flapped to our birdie song, and chased each other around the field. When we arrived at camp, Nora emerged from the woods carrying two bright orange sleds! The winter weather was begging us to go sledding down a hill near our camp. The Nuthatches spent the morning whizzing down the hill as the snow continued to fall. They even got to pull each other around in the sleds.

At slunch time, the flock warmed up around a beautiful fire and practiced dancing to stay warm. The weather was cold, but the Nuthatches kept moving in the snow with games and carrying new branches to keep building our nest.

Thursday morning dawned cold and windy, so the Nuthatches played “Owl, Mouse, Mite.” We explored the relationships between all the animals in the forest by playing this game, which is like Rock, Paper, Scissors. Each animal can beat or be beaten by another animal. Owls eat mice, mice eat mites, and mites can attach to owls! The teams picked their animal and quickly ran away from their predators. 

After Opening Circle, a special surprise was in store for the flock. We headed to the picnic tables outside to find small ovals wrapped in foil. What could be inside? As the foil was unwrapped, small brown pellets emerged. These were owl pellets! When an owl eats its food, it doesn’t cook it or chew it up. Instead, it swallows it whole. Then, it has to regurgitate all the bones, fur, or feathers that it can’t digest. The Nuthatches dug through the pellets to find tiny bones and lots of fur from small rodents. They even came across a bird beak and breastplate, showing what this owl’s meal had been. Using a key, they tried to identify which bones they were and what animal they belonged to, and packed up some of their favorite bones to bring home and show their families.

Then we headed down to camp, ate our slunch over the fire, and played lots of games to stay warm in the winter chill. We found lots of fresh tracks in the snow, including a fox track heading right through the middle of our camp. This week the Nuthatches learned so much about owls, natural relationships, and embracing our snowy winter weather.

Office Location:
Cornell Cooperative Extension, 615 Willow Ave., Ithaca, NY 14850
607-272-2292 | email Us

Preschool Location:
4-H Acres, 418 Lower Creek Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850

Ithaca Forest Preschool is a nature immersion program for children ages 3-5. Our program is run in cooperation with Primitive Pursuits, a project of Cornell Cooperative Extension.