January 18, 2019
The Citizen Science Club at Fredonia Elementary School
This season’s BirdSpotter contest is celebrating teachers and students who love birds. Congratulations to Jill Putnam, our second winner, and her 4th grade Citizen Science Club students at Fredonia Elementary School in Fredonia, NY!
Jill was interested in finding a project for the Citizen Science Club that could be done during normal school hours. She was researching different citizen science projects when she came across Project FeederWatch and thought it would be a perfect fit. She says the club began by watching the Cornell Lab’s Bird Cams. They observed these live video feeds, learned about what each bird eats and which feeders attract each species best, and then used this information to build their own feeder site.
For a STEM project, the Citizen Science Club made some feeders out of recycled milk jugs. Then, they hung these in conjunction with homemade suet and tube feeders filled with nyjer seed from trees just outside of their classroom: a small redbud and several young birch trees. The students use flash cards, binoculars, and our Merlin Bird ID app to help them continue to learn and identify the birds that come to their feeders. So far, they’ve attracted Blue Jays, Dark-eyed Juncos, and Black-capped Chickadees, but Jill says that the Blue Jays are a favorite. She goes on:
I think kids are naturally curious about wildlife. Just seeing a bird at a feeder they made makes them feel like they did something special. I also let them bring in cameras to photograph them. We are keeping a list of all the birds we see in our community, and not just at our feeders… I want my students to have a memorable experience. We are hoping to add things to our school gardens to attract and help birds.
Thanks to all of the schools who have entered so far! Over the course of the BirdSpotter contest, we 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. We are still taking entries: Submit an entry form for a chance to be our final winner for this season, which will be announced February 15th, 2019.