Do you find vultures fascinating? Our guest, Corina Newsome, certainly does! And she bravely held one, as well as all sorts of birds, snakes, and reptiles, because Corina is a scientist who works with wildlife. 🦅 Join us and our host Emily Calandrelli as we learn about the scientific world, where your lab is a wildlife protection center.
Discover fun activities and songs that will teach your child all about collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and communication in the Lingokids app! 💙
Speaker: When I grow up, I want to be a scientist.
Speaker: What does being a scientist mean to you?
Speaker: Being very, very, very smart and inventing stuff.
Speaker: Wearing a white coat and working in a lab.
Speaker: When I grow up--
Speaker: [music] Want to be a pilot with a uniform white, always flying high up in the sky.
Speaker: When I grow up--
Speaker: [music] Want to be a firefighter putting out flames or maybe a police officer keeping people safe. It's so fun to learn what you can be. Growin’ up, growin’ up.
Speaker: When I grow up--
Speaker: [music] Want to be an artist that paints for tricks. Want to be a scientist that does experiments. Oh, so many people you will meet. Growin’ up, growin’ up.
Speaker: Growin’ up.
Speaker: [music] Growin’ up, growin’ up, growin’ up. .
Speaker: Hi and welcome to Growin’ Up with Emily, a Lingokids podcast helping amazing kids to grow up and be even more amazing. I’m Emily, it's me. As a kid, I was always asked, what do you want to be when you grow up? I wanted to be so many things. Does it sound familiar then? Then I’m glad you were listening because you are going to find out what it takes to be anything you want. Are you ready to make science your superpower?
Speaker: Growin’ up.
Speaker: Last episode, we met Captain Maria Fagerstrom, a pilot who lives in Spain and flies around the world. Today we're embarking on a scientific journey. We'll explore wildlife conservation. Do you love wild animals? If you've dreamed of being a scientist who helps keep wildlife wild, you won't want to miss this episode. Today we're going to meet an ornithologist, an expert in birds.
Speaker: Growin’ up, growin’ up.
Speaker: We're visiting a wildlife rescue center in Georgia.
Speaker: Is it a zoo?
Speaker: Not exactly. Animals are in protected areas like a zoo, but most are injured, or ill, or rescued from dangerous situations. These animals are native to the area, so once they're healthy, they're released into the wild.
Speaker: It's like a hospital, but for animals.
Speaker: That's a good comparison. We're close to the owl area. Georgia is home to four kinds of owls, barred, great horned, barn and the eastern screech owl. Oh, follow that sound.
Speaker: Oh, it's a little owl.
Speaker: That's an eastern screech owl. Most are gray, but some are reddish. Oh, it's so beautiful. Oh, a volunteer is approaching the owl.
Speaker: He's putting on some thick gloves.
Speaker: I guess even little owls have sharp talons. Aw, the owl has a damaged wing. Owls are birds of prey, carnivores. If this one can't fly, it can't hunt. Let's stroll across the footbridge. I see some grass and rocks and some holes in the ground.
Speaker: I think I see a turtle. It's coming out of that hole.
Speaker: That's actually a tortoise. It shell is rounded like a dome. Tortoises can't swim in water like turtles. This is a gopher tortoise, one of the oldest living species on the planet. They've been on earth for the last 16 million years. Believe it or not, these tortoises have an important role in our ecosystem. We call them keystone species. Many other animals depend on them. They dig burrows underground that over 350 other species also call home. Now they're endangered, at risk of disappearing. If they're gone--
Speaker: The other animals who use those burrows will lose their homes.
Speaker: Yes and they could die too.
Speaker: Can they be saved?
Speaker: Yes. Now there is a law that gopher tortoises must be relocated before land is cleared. Rescue centers like this one help find them new homes.
Speaker: Oh, so once a law is made, the animals are safe?
Speaker: Not quite. Park rangers, wildlife enforcement and conservationists work to make sure humans are following the laws.
Speaker: Oh, it takes a lot of work.
Speaker: Yes and it can pay off. The most famous success is the bald eagle. 60 years ago, there were less than 500 in the United States. Now there are over 14,000 pairs. There's a bald of eagle here. It lives at the center.
Speaker: Can we see it?
Speaker: We'll try. Let's head to the Educational Center. Wow, it's a big bird. The woman handling the eagle seems very comfortable.
Speaker: The woman's name is Corina Newsome. She says she's an ornithologist.
Speaker: She's taking the eagle back to its nest. When she returns, maybe we can speak with her. Are you ready to meet a real scientist, an ornithologist?
Speaker: Hi there, Corina. I'm with Lingokids and we want to find out what it takes to be a scientist. Can we ask some questions?
Speaker: Please do. I'm ready to go.
Speaker: Great. First off, how did you decide to focus on birds?
Speaker: I ended up majoring in zoo and wildlife biology in college. Part of that degree, I had to learn about mammals, I had to learn about reptiles and amphibians, and I had to learn about birds. I was actually really afraid to take that class because it was about birds in North America and I didn't know about my own backyard wildlife. By the time I got to that class, my professor showed the class a picture of a blue jay, which is a beautiful bird. It has all different colors and shades of blue and white and black and I had never seen that bird.
I was in class and I said, ''What is that bird?'' Everyone looked at me like I was crazy. They were like, “That's a blue jay. They're everywhere. You've never seen that?” I had never seen that bird but as soon as I left class and looked around, they surely were everywhere. At that point, I realized that birds were a really cool group of animals to study.
Speaker: So cool. Corina, can you tell us three things all wildlife biologists or conservationists need?
Speaker: I would say the thing number one that a conservationist or a biologist need is a mentor. The only reason I am a biologist today is because someone who is older than me and had more experience decided to take me under their wing and show me what their job looked like. I got to go behind the scenes at the zoo and that's the moment when I realized, wow, I want to do something with wildlife.
Speaker: That's super cool. One of my dreams is to hold or feed animals in the zoo. What else?
Speaker: The second thing that conservationists need is experience to make sure you actually enjoy doing it. Every single summer I was at the Philadelphia Zoo. I was essentially practicing taking care of animals. I was taking care of turtles, and birds, and snakes, and all kinds of animals. I was getting experience to make sure I liked the job.
Thing number three that I think conservationists need is passion because even though taking care of animals and studying animals looks like a lot of fun, and it is, it's also pretty hard, but it's hard in a good way. When you love it, it's exciting, but if you don't like it, man, don't sign up for that.
Speaker: Really interesting Corina. We'd love some tips at the end on how our listeners can start learning these skills. We also received some fantastic questions from our Lingokids listeners.
Speaker: Don't scientists always wear white coats and sit in the labs?
Speaker: When people think of a scientist wearing a lab coat, you are likely thinking of maybe a microbiologist, someone who's studying little tiny organisms. My kind of scientist, a conservation or wildlife scientists pretty much, oftentimes we are outside in the field. We're usually outside and covered in something, whether it's mud, or it's plants, or sometimes it's other fun parts of nature but we are right out in the mix outside. You can also do both of those things, which is the case for a lot of people who study animals.
Speaker: How do scientists study birds when they're flying?
Speaker: One scientist I know uses a method where he's actually recording the sound of birds. He may not actually be using his eyes to look at them or monitor the birds, but he has a recording device. He sits outside and as birds are flying over, they're chirping and they're making sounds as they do when we hear them in trees in our own neighborhoods. That allows him to know what species, what kinds of birds- -are flying over different parts of the city at nighttime.
Speaker: Corina, what's your favorite thing about being a scientist?
Speaker: When I started that internship, I was actually terrified of talking to people. The thought of talking to a group bigger than three of my friends was so scary. Then within a week or two, I actually found out I loved it. I remember going out and gathering crowds of people and saying, “Anyone want to learn about tigers?” Then I would share everything I loved about tigers when I saw how people lit up when they realized how passionate I was.
The other part that I loved just as much was being able to care for animals. I remember the first time I touched the snake, I was like, “Wow.” I thought they were slimy but they're actually pretty smooth and, and shiny. I remember the first time I held a bird, I was so surprised by how lightweight they were. My first time interacting with animals and my first time talking to groups of people about how much I loved animals were my two favorite parts of the job.
Speaker: Corina, and what should I do if I find a bird that is hurt?
Speaker: Wildlife rehabilitator. If you see a bird that's hurt, you want to either put on some gloves or maybe find a cloth or a t-shirt and pick it up and put it in a dark box. Not a big box, but a small box that it can fit in and then call your local wildlife rehabilitator. You'll just google “wildlife rehabilitator near me” and contact them right away.
Speaker: What's the coolest fact about birds?
Speaker: The coolest fact about birds to me actually comes from vultures. Vultures are usually birds that people look at in, are like, “Oh, gross.” They have bald heads and they're patchy looking. Vultures are incredible. Vultures eat dead bodies of animals, kind of gross, but their bodies are actually really well built for that. If you've ever had a tummy ache and you've had to throw up, you know that burns. There's that stomach acid burns our throats, our own stomach acid.
Vultures have stomach acid that is so strong, it's anywhere up to a 100 times stronger than ours. It can dissolve bone. They can eat solid objects and it gets dissolved in their stomachs. They can eat diseases or pathogens, little microbes like rabies. They could eat cholera, which causes all kinds of horrible diseases in people and they never get sick.
If we didn't have vultures, we would be in a bad way. We would have disease in our water, in our soil, but they're making sure that our ecosystems are healthy. The next time you see a vulture, you don't even have to think that they're pretty, but just thank the vulture.
Speaker: Thank you Mr. Vulture, even though you're gross.
Speaker: Wow. Corina, thank you so much for sharing with us. Corina, what is one thing we can all do to help protect wildlife?
Speaker: No matter where you live across the United States or even in the world, when birds are moving and flying during migration, most of them are flying at nighttime. Unfortunately, lights that are on during the night can be very distracting and can disrupt their migration and even cause them to do things like run into windows, which is not good.
If you have outdoor lights like garage lights or any sort of lights that are outside, turn those off. You could even take it a step further and encourage your schools to turn off lights at night or your work places to turn off lights at night. We call that the lights out promise, the lights out pledge. We want people to take that pledge to help birds migrate every night because over any given city, for example, here in Washington DC, one night, we had 30 million birds flying over the city in one night. If you can, do your part and turn the lights off.
Speaker: We'll do our part, right kids?
Speaker: We hope you enjoyed this episode of the Growin’ Up Podcast. Even if you never plan to be a scientist, learning how to protect the wildlife in your area is lifesaving. Do you know of any animals that live in the wild where you live? Tune in next time when we meet a real baker.
Speaker: To live a full interactive learning adventure, check out our Lingokids app with tons of games and activities for endless fun.
Speaker: [music] It's so fun to learn what you can be. Growin’ up, growin’ up. Come and join us, come everyone so we can learn while having lots of fun because it's so fun to learn what you can be. Yes. It's so fun to learn what you can be. Growin’ up, growin’ up, growin’ up.
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