February 14, 2020
|Blue Jay by Tonya Luna|
This season’s BirdSpotter contest is celebrating teachers and students who love birds. Congratulations to our third and final winner for this season, Tonya Luna, and her students at North Street Elementary School in Geneva, NY!
Tonya started bird watching when her daughter was in 3rd grade. Now, both share a love of birds, and are celebrating their 6th year participating in FeederWatch from their home. Her daughter is even studying to become an ornithologist! Tonya saw this enthusiasm and realized how easily it could be cultivated in her 5th grade classroom through Project FeederWatch. This is their second year participating as a class. Tonya goes on:
Birds have become our overall classroom theme from our welcome letter, to bird-themed name tags for their lockers, to door decorations. We include mini-lessons about birds every chance we get, whether through reading about John James Audubon, comparing and writing about different feathers and birds, or the role of birds in our ecosystems. Birds have become so central in our room that the students share their observations with anyone who visits. They can see a bird, quietly tally it on the board and return to their work. Our observation window includes Common Feeder Bird posters and individual bird tally boards. We tally and record our bird sightings everyday for the entire school year!
Tonya’s students come from a diverse range of economic backgrounds, and she says some had no background knowledge or experience with their local birds. Now, through FeederWatch, she’s happy to report that they have been able to see and identify 15 different species of birds! She explains:
They were first amazed with the Blue Jays, who put on many displays for them. Then came the bright goldfinches. Some students really like the cardinals, whereas others love to see the woodpeckers. One or two have even been fond of the Brown-headed Cowbirds. Imagine that! They have also been able to watch and observe a Red-tailed Hawk that hangs out in the evergreens.
When we asked if Tonya had any tips for other teachers on how to get their students excited about birds, her advice was to just dive in. She suggests putting up a feeder and showing them how to observe the birds. Helping guide students to be aware of the birds around them, and giving them opportunities to share what they see and learn can be a big help. She adds: With time and consistency, the awe takes over and [the students] will be teaching you.
Thanks to Tonya, her class, and to all of the schools who have entered our contest this year! The entry form is now closed. Tonya and other Feederwatch in the Classroom winners received goodies from the Cornell Lab and a gift card from our sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited. Visit our BirdSpotter homepage for more information
There’s still time to sign up for the 2019-2020 FeederWatch season. Join between February 1 and April 3, 2020 to get the rest of this season plus the 2020-2021 season for one price!