Birding Activities at the Tree House

The Psychas-Yees, enthusiastic urban bird watchers, have developed the tree house as a bird watching platform for local kids.  The play fort sits in a large American elm, an excellent venue for urban birding, is set up to welcome small groups of child birders, ages 5-9 for 45-minute birding sessions.  A variety of educational materials for the sessions have been donated by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center at the National Zoo.

We had a busy spring birding season.  The elm, a native species favored by a variety of migratory birds, has some lovely nests this year, and the tree hosue features pulley-drawn bird feeders and a bird bath, 20-40 feet up in the elm which can be viewed from the platform.  Young birders can lower the feeders to fill them with the sunflower seed in black oil we''ve been using to attract species.  The tree house and the branches that shade it are also equipped with Amish bird boxes, viewing stools, a telescope and Mid-Atlantic bird identification cards and song recordings.  Young birders are encouraged to learn and practice seasonal bird identification techniques from the platform and climbing rocks.  Pairs of nesting blue jays, cardinals and wood peckers have been spotted in the elm this season. 

Birding sessions will be on hiatus this summer, but youth group leaders can schedule appointments for the fall on weekdays from 3:30-4:30, and Saturdays from 12:00-4:00.  The sessions begin with a presentation on seasonal bird life and proceed to identification, watching and sketching activities in the elm.  The events end with a  pine cone bird feeder making activity.  Scouts can work on bird watching merit badges in the sessions.  

If you're the leader of a local youth group who would like to inquire about making an appointment to visit the tree house for birding purposes, please email rescuetreehouse@gmail.com.  In your inquiry, please include your group's name, normal meeting location, contact information for adult leaders, the approximate number of bird watchers you'd like to bring to the tree house, fall session dates that might work for your group, and other information you consider relevant.  Group leaders should plan to make a brief visit to the alley without their group before their birders visit.  The visit will help familiarize leaders with the fort's safety features and proper supervision of birders.  Leaders of youth groups of economically disadvantaged children, who may never have visited a tree house before, are encouraged to contact the family to arrange a visit.  

The bird watching sessions are free to qualified youth groups properly supervised by one or more adult leaders.   Happy urban birding for DC kids.