Preparing bird masks

Last week I had the joy to give a “Birds of Yaquina Head Program” to Mano a Mano Family Center in Salem, OR. Mano a Mano is a help center for Latino families who partners with FDHC (Farmworker Development Housing Corporation) to bring children after school programs that engages them in arts, culture, and academics.


Colonia Libertad, housing unit where program was held.

The program I gave was two hours long and it focused on bringing awareness on coastal birds and also getting students interested and excited about going out birding. It began with a powerpoint on Yaquina Head Oustanding Natural, what makes up a bird, and the adaptations of a seabird, then I showcased some of the most popular birds at Yaquina Head.

Kids explored beak adaptations through a game where they could test different beaks and how they are specialized for a specific type of food. In this game they learned about the differences in what a Bald Eagle eats from an oystercatcher, and a pelican.  At the same time, kids got the chance to explore the skull of a pelican, eagle, murre, and both types of cormorants.  On the “touch” table, students also explored the sounds of a Peregrine, Bald eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, Western Gull, and Raven.

Then they played “Bird on my Back”, an activity that introduces them to the use binoculars and gets them familiarized with the birds at the site. Pictures of the  Common Murre, Brandt’s Cormorant, Pelagic Cormorant, Brown Pelican, Peregrine Falcon,  juvenile Bald Eagle, Black Oystercatcher, and Tufted Puffin were posted on the walls; another set was made into necklaces and placed on a table. Students worked in partners; one picked a bird necklace and placed it on their partner’s back and described to them what the bird looked like while the other one used a pair of binoculars to find the described bird on the walls.  This activity got the students to look closely at the birds and pay attention to field marks specific to each bird.

After this, they got the chance to be creative and decorate a bird mask. They colored it with crayons, glitter, and feathers on them and wore them around acting like birds. They put a lot of work on their masks and had fun doing it.

It was great hanging out with these kids and speak our native language together. I wish I could have taken them outside to see birds in their natural habitat, but I believe that they are now very interested in exploring birds on their own. Seabirds was a completely new concept for them and I was glad to show them something new and share a bit of my passion with them.


Some of the students’ finished masks.

To learn more about Mano a Mano, please visit

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