January 5, 2018
This season’s BirdSpotter contest is celebrating teachers and students who love birds. Throughout the contest, we will randomly select three teachers who use FeederWatch as a way to engage students with hands-on science. Winners receive goodies from the Cornell Lab and a gift card from our sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited.
Congratulations to our second winner, Seth Almekinder and his fifth grade class at Naples Elementary School in Naples, New York! Seth learned about Project FeederWatch as part of a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) teacher institute hosted by the Reinstein Woods Environmental Education Center.
Seth’s classes are filled with fun outdoor education activities and place-based learning, so adding FeederWatch was a natural fit. Seth shared, “Project FeederWatch is a great integrated and ongoing activity that allows multiple levels of engagement for students of differing abilities and interests. I like the citizen science aspect and having kids learn more about their local environment.”
To familiarize students with feeder birds, Seth teaches field marks and bird identification. Students select a bird to research and become an expert on. Their bird unit also incorporates migration. “We do activities from the Flying Wild program,” Seth wrote. “We did a migration simulation game last year and set it up at school for other classes and at a local climate change event.”
A window feeder allows students to get up close with birds, while another set of feeders occupy the courtyard. Raised beds, bushes, and trees provide places for birds to perch and seek shelter. Students spend time both in the classroom and out in the courtyard (pictured above) observing birds. Students get excited to be outside doing “real science.” The most common feeder visitors include Blue Jays, Tufted Titmice, House Sparrows, and European Starlings.