December 8, 2017
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 first FeederWatch in the Classroom winner, Phoebe Griffith and her students at the Mead School in Stamford, Connecticut! Phoebe learned about FeederWatch through the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website. FeederWatch has been a part of her bird curriculum for years.
Each fall, Phoebe’s third and fourth grade students learn about birds and migration. Part of the unit involves students observing the feeders and recording their sightings throughout the day. Many students become so invested in counting for FeederWatch that even when the official bird unit ends, Phoebe wrote, “Many of the students are fascinated and keep watching birds! They certainly pay attention to my feeders the rest of the year!”
Part of what helps the students connect with birds is that Phoebe, a lifelong birder, loves watching birds. She shared, “It helps to be passionate about a topic if you’re going to be teaching it. The kids see how much you love it and they gain a different perspective on it.”
Phoebe’s classroom overlooks a great feeder area (pictured above). She and her students maintain several different types of feeders—even one just for squirrels—and a birdbath. The adjacent herb garden and nearby trees enhance their site.
Her students are fortunate to see a diversity of birds. Phoebe noted, “We have a lot of House Sparrows (though not as many this year as in the past), Tufted Titmice, Black-capped Chickadees, Downy Woodpeckers, an occasional Hairy Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Dark-eyed Juncos (late fall thru end of season), Blue Jays, American Crows, American Goldfinches, House Finches, usually White-throated Sparrows (though I haven’t seen them yet this season), Mourning Doves, and a few Northern Cardinals.”