December 20, 2019
The FeederWatch count site set-up at Columbine High School
This season’s BirdSpotter contest is celebrating teachers and students who love birds. Congratulations to our first winner for this season, Michelle Gallagher, and her students at Columbine High School in Littleton, CO!
Over the summer, Michelle was researching activities focused on birds to bring into her Zoology class, when she stumbled upon Project FeederWatch. It was a perfect fit! She says:
I have used Project FeederWatch to help students learn about local birds and how to be involved in citizen science. I have also had students read the article about 1 in 4 birds lost in the past 50 years [read more] to show students how important projects, like Project FeederWatch, are to learn about species declines and migration patterns.
Her class’s count site is is full of action. The set-up includes large and small tube feeders, suet, a large hopper feeder and a bird bath placed beneath the canopy of two large cottonwood trees. Michelle notes that there are a few low bushes nearby for birds to use as cover. The suet, black-oil sunflower seeds, nyjer, and no-mess seed blend the class provides have been successful in attracting lots of species. The students routinely see Northern Flickers, Dark Eyed Juncos, Bushtits, Black-capped Chickadees, American Crows, House Sparrows, House Finches, and even a Cooper’s Hawk!
When we asked if Michelle had any tips for other teachers on how to get their students excited about birds, she had had great advice:
Have a bird expert come in as a guest speaker to show students the basics about birding. Also have the bird expert show students the different bird species and places all over the world where birders travel. This gets them interested in birding! Project FeederWatch has allowed me to explore other citizen science platforms, such as Zooniverse, and get my students interested and involved in other projects all over the world.
Thanks to Michelle, her class, and to all of the schools who have entered our contest so far! The entry form is still open – if you are an educator who is participating in FeederWatch this year, enter here for your chance to win! Over the course of the BirdSpotter contest, we will randomly select two more 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. Visit our BirdSpotter homepage for more information.