Big Schools Birdwatch (20th Jan – 14th Feb)
If your family is into nature, then you’re sure to want the kids growing up knowing about nature and respecting all forms of life, both animal and plant. Chances are that you’re interested in your garden and encourage the kids to take a keen interest in what’s growing, how it grows and how to take care of a garden. In the UK one of the greatest joys that comes from our gardens are the winged visitors that we entertain. Many of us keen gardeners attract birds to our gardens by feeding them, not just for the benefits they bring the garden, but for the sheer enjoyment we get from watching their antics as they flit around feeding.
Feeding the birds is a great way of teaching young children respect for their environment and the creatures who live alongside us. It’s pretty easy to attract a wide variety of birds even if your garden is quite small (or, indeed, if you just have a balcony or some window boxes). If you don’t already feed the birds on a regular basis, now is a great time to start – these feathery friends are always on the lookout for food, never more so than in the harsh winter months when nourishment may be in short supply. One of the best places to get information on the birds that visit the UK and how to encourage and help them is the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).
The RSPB regularly stages activities for kids and this year’s offering is the Big Schools’ Birdwatch which runs from 20th January to 14th February, 2014. This is an organised Birdwatch that can be carried out at school or by visiting a local outdoor space. Every school and group that submits their results gets a free certificate and a minibeast poster as a thank you for joining in with the event.
The Big Schools’ Birdwatch is totally flexible and works across a wide range of ages and abilities. It can be run in a simple manner or used as the centrepiece of cross-curricular studies, as project work or as part of a plan to improve the school grounds. There are plenty of resources available from RSPB and the Birdwatch can be adapted to suit extracurricular activity groups like Cubs and Brownies. Taking part in the Birdwatch couldn’t be easier – there are just 3 steps to the process:
1 – PREPARE
Start to feed the birds and they’ll soon become regular visitors to your bird table. The kids can prepare bird cakes or make feeders from recycled bottles (a great way of encouraging the kids to be environmentally conscious).
2 – TAKE PART
You need to start as early in the morning as possible and each child should be given a counting chart to record the birds that visit and how many different species of birds they are able to spot. There are some great links on the RSPB website with free to download resources like counting charts, bird food recipes, posters and activities.
3 – SUBMIT THE RESULTS
You can submit your results online on the RSPB website – the submission form is designed to be used as a data handling class activity via an interactive whiteboard. You can choose the types of graphs and charts to use and your data can be explored and interpreted with a series of questions to answer. Once all the national data has been counted, you’ll receive the results of the Birdwatch with a certificate for taking part.
Taking part in wildlife watching events like this is a brilliant way of teaching your child about the environment and the creatures it supports. We’re in danger of losing some of our small garden birds here in the UK and the only way to prevent that is to get a whole new generation passionate about birds so that they can be protected in the future.