• Murray Grove Birding Club

    The Murray Grove Birding Club of Lacey Township, NJ was started in September 2013 as an after-school program led by George Morgan, whose wonderful work we have shared previously. They have been doing some great things this year with Celebrate Urban Birds. They advertised their program in two elementary schools in the district, Lanoka Harbor School and Cedar Creek Elementary, as an after school program. The program attracted 26 students from both schools. They met for 1.5 hours every month for the entire school year.

    photo © Courtesy of George Morgan

    For the duration of the program, the participants studied almost all of the birds on the program list. During some of the sessions they would study the bird of the month using Golden Guides to Birding that were donated to them, coloring pictures of the bird, and filling in pertinent questions about the bird. They also did population counts outside for 10-15 minutes. The sessions also included an activity of the day related to the day’s session.

    photo © Courtesy of George Morgan
    Some of the activities the participants engaged in were making a Mourning Dove nest and Bird beak Café in which they used ordinary utensils to test which were more effective in picking up seeds. They also made different kinds of bird feeders, including pine cones with peanut butter and feeders made with pipe cleaners. The participants also recycled milk cartons and made some more bird feeders out of those. Other activities included storytelling and poetry about birds, painting watercolors of birds, etc.
    photo © Courtesy of George Morgan

    Some of the most important activities the group did, however, were those outdoors. Outdoor activities are great because they give people the chance to interact directly with nature. The participants of this great program were able to plant some sunflowers and care for them as well as practice their observation skills using binoculars that were donated by a generous benefactor.The kids also played bird Olympics, where they imitated bird movements and sounds.
    photo © Courtesy of George Morgan

    the program was a complete success and all the people involved had lots of fun. Some of the participants’ parents also attended the program and received completion certificates as well. The end of the program was celebrated with a picnic and a Celebrate Urban Birds cake! All of the students loved the program and look forward to participating again next year.

  • Nationwide Boy Scout Celebrate Urban Birds Project

    Ben Gormley is a young Eagle Scout in Indiana with a dedication to conservation and community involvement. A recipient of the William T. Hornaday Badge for distinguished service in natural resource conservation, Ben helped start the first monofilament fishing line recycling program in Indiana, directed a project to remove invasive honeysuckle from a large local park, and led a series of Leave No Trace activities with the local community, to say nothing of the other accomplishments indicated by his 137 out of 137 available Merit Badges!

    Now, Ben is striving for a distinguished Hornaday Medal with his latest worthy enterprise: get a Boy Scouts of America (BSA) troop in every state in the country to participate in a bird count. His hope is that this nationwide project will increase scouts’ awareness of their local avifauna, and we think this is a great way to bring the BSA together to learn how to maintain bird-friendly habitat in their neighborhoods!

    So far, Ben has worked with his fellow Scouts to construct and place ten nestboxes in public park areas in their community and nearby.

    Here’s a shout-out to the Troops that have signed themselves up to celebrate birds so far:

    • Alaska Troop 229
    • Connecticut Troop 175
    • Delaware Troop 24
    • Georgia Troop 522
    • Idaho Troop 201
    • Illinois Troop 96
    • Indiana Troop 202
    • Iowa Troop 182
    • Michigan Troop 755
    • Montana Troop 1911
    • Nebraska Troop 25
    • New Mexico Troop 166
    • Oklahoma Troop 168
    • Oregon Troop 1
    • South Dakota Troop 131
    • Texas Troop 365
    • Vermont Troop 611
    • Wisconsin Troop 62
    • Wyoming Troop 221

    Keep coming back to this page to watch the list grow and get updates on when the big Boy Scouts bird count will happen!

  • Careers and Conservation Workshop – 2013

    Thanks to funding from the Kaytee Avian Foundation and CALS Funding, on October 24th and 25th we had a fantastic time hosting twenty-two youth (and their nine chaperones) from across the northeastern United States for our Careers and Conservation Workshop here at Sapsucker Woods. Youth had been encouraged to apply and educators could also nominate their students for a spot in the workshop, and everyone was excited to participate in a diverse and interactive series of events and presentations throughout the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

    Participants met David Bonter (Assistant Director of Citizen Science) and his two undergraduate students Evan Barrientos and Johnathan Hruska outside the Lab at a group of feeders that had a mist-net set up between them so that everyone could see the process of bird-banding from start to finish in Bonter’s presentation, “What is Bird-banding and Why Does It Matter?” One of the chaperones wrote to us that “I loved watching the students release the birds after banding, and walking in the woods. These are experiences that the students have never had the opportunity to have.” In the slideshow below by Marta del Campo you can see how engaged the students were in seeing and experiencing a bird in the hand:

    Some of the other presentations by Lab faculty included Amanda Rodewald (Director of Conservation Science) on “Making a Difference Through Conservation Science,” Mya Thompson (eLearning Specialist) on “Ever Heard of Dino Fuzz? All About Feathers,” and Eduardo Iñigo Elias (Coordinator of the Neotropical Initiative) on “Conservation in the Neotropics and the Significance of Local Community Engagement.” On one of the evenings participants went on a night walk through the Sapsucker Woods Sanctuary trails with Karen and Marta (CUBs Coordinators). Walking through the woods in near-darkness and keeping completely silent for most of the way, youth were able to experience the sound and feel of a beautiful forest in a way many people never do. Two participants were especially struck by the activity: “My favorite part of the entire workshop was taking a walk through the woods because it gave me an experience I’ve never had before and forced me to get over my fears,” wrote one; another affirmed that, “My favorite part has to be when we did the night walk. I felt my senses adapting during the night and something about it, I just admire.”

    Workshop participants spent some more time outdoors and followed Kevin McGowan (Instructor of the Lab’s Home Study Course in Bird Biology) for a walk around the same Sapsucker trails by day to look for birds and learn a bit about their behavior. Despite the chilly morning, the youth made great use of equipment like scopes and binoculars to see local species up close in their habitat. Echoing the previous chaperone’s statement, another schoolteacher wrote that “My students come from the inner city and they have very limited experience being in an open green space. I think that having this experience made them more aware of their environment.” Check out the photos by Diane Tessaglia-Hymes of the bird walk led by Dr. McGowan:

    The Bartels Science Illustration Intern, Benlin Alexander, ran a drawing activity called “Deepening Observation Through the Arts” where he showed participants how to use the act of sketching to help notice specific things about birds as well as how to draw birds in the first place. Youth and chaperones alike were captivated as Benlin’s pencil whirred over his sketchbook and left behind a magnificent American Goldfinch drawing! Then the students tried their own hand at some artwork and had some equally impressive results. In the images below by Marta del Campo, you can see this art activity in addition to a couple shots of the participants taking a tour of Cornell, where they learned about the admissions process from Talyse LaDora Hampton (Assistant Director of Admissions/Multicultural Recruitment) and then got to experience some Cornell Dining–yum!

    Participants learned about cutting-edge technological research and data collection methods from Macaulay Library audio archivist Martha Fischer and assistant curator Matthew Medler, as well as from Ashik Rahaman, a research analyst at the Bioacoustics Research Program. Several participants were particularly intrigued by the unfamiliar equipment used to record bird sounds; one later wrote that, “My favorite part of the workshop was the sound equipment. I love music and sound in general so it was very exciting.”

    Kevin Ripka (Interactive Web Designer) gave an interactive talk on the power of visualization in understanding and communicating data, which tied in with research associate Caren Cooper’s presentation “Citizen Science: Connecting Communities to the Sciences and Conservation.” To provide a local context for the Lab’s relationship with Cornell University, current students Maritza Medina (sophomore, School of Industrial Labor Relations) and Seth Inman (senior, College of Arts & Sciences) spoke about their experiences as undergraduates and daily life at Cornell. Photos by Marta del Campo:

    Participants toured the Cornell Museum of Vertebrates, always a crowd favorite, with Kim Bostwick and were able to see the dozens of specimens of not only birds, but also fish, reptiles, and amphibians — with maybe a couple mammals thrown in. Youth and their chaperones became familiar with some of the preservation techniques used to keep specimens in good conditions as educational resources and saw the effects that years of storage can have on different types of feathers and their coloration. The specimens also provide insight as to evolutionary biology and the relative anatomy of different species. One participant declared this part of the workshop a personal favorite, writing that “I liked the dead things in jars”; another wrote that “I’ve been inspired to apply to Cornell and do actual research work.” Here are some photos of Kim and participants by Marta (apart from the first photo, which is by Diane Tessaglia-Hymes):

    Overall, we felt this year’s Careers and Conservation Workshop was a great success! Faculty and staff were happy to share their thoughts with a young captive audience, chaperones were thrilled to have their students experience things they’d never had the opportunity to explore before, and the workshop participants themselves were the main beneficiaries of the vast and diverse array of knowledge related to careers in science and conservation that the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has to offer! We look forward to continuing this type of project in the coming years and hope you or someone you know can join us.

  • Youth Summit at Cornell Lab 2013

    With support from Smith Lever and collaboration with the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk, Nosotros Radio Inc., and the Syracuse YMCA, we held another wonderful Youth Workshop here at the Lab of Ornithology on August 26th and 27th, 2013. After working on projects for a whole year, Celebrate Urban Birds (CUBs) partners and youth had the opportunity to share their experiences and thoughts, excitedly explore the Lab and Cornell campus, and participate in a series of presentations by engaging staff members. These participants, all high school students apart from their chaperones, came from Syracuse and Long Island.

    photo © Claire Smith
    We’ve highlighted the two groups before. The students from Syracuse are part of the organization called LACE (Latino Students, Advancement, Commitment, and Excellence), and the Long Island participants call themselves The Thicklets. They traveled with their chaperones to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to share the projects focused on habitat improvement, birds, and community service that they developed in their own neighborhoods. All lectures and tours were translated on the spot into Spanish because a few of the Latino students came to the U.S. only recently and are still working on attaining English fluency.

    Throughout the workshop, the youth and their chaperones were able to engage in well over a dozen activities that included:

    • Presenting their respective projects to each other
    • Interacting with scientists who work on or with cutting edge research and technology
    • Learning about the power of community-based citizen science
    • Getting an in-depth look at the Lab’s Macaulay Library and meeting its archivists, recordists, and researchers
    • Touring the Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates housed within the Lab
    • Learning about habitat improvement
    • Participating in a morning of bird banding
    • Learning about communications, social media, and public relations in the sciences
    • Interacting with Cornell undergraduate students
    • Exploring the outdoor trails of Sapsucker Woods around the Lab
    • Touring the Lab and its diverse departments
    • Appreciating the artwork of past visiting artists at the Lab
    • Touring the Cornell campus
    • Dining on the renowned Cornell meal plan

    photo © Claire Smith

    Last year, youth from LACE and The Thicklets had their first meeting at The Lab. It was a fantastic chance for them to share their often vastly different backgrounds in citizen science and habitat improvement in Syracuse and Long Island, while also coming together over common themes in their experience. Some of this year’s participants had met before, but several were new and had fresh insights about their current projects and plans. For example, this year The Thicklets have continued working on habitat improvement in their community, but with some surprise complications, like a fire that affected their targeted wildlife restoration area. However, these setbacks haven’t stopped them, and they have great plans for the upcoming work season’s activities at their site, such as organizing a race to attract more members of their community to the area and enjoy the outdoors, continuing their regular garbage removal from the site, updating their blog, improving the greening quality for birds in their targeted area, and much more.

    photo © Claire Smith
    LACE, on the other hand, has focused this year on informing its local Syracuse community about birds, as well as vegetation that helps improve habitat for those birds, rather than creating such habitat directly. As part of their education outreach, they developed a beautiful brochure! They selected four focal bird species from CUBs, and also four plants that can help common birds in cities. They did extensive research, selected what they wanted to say to their community, found good images, and learned to use unfamiliar programs in the Microsoft Office Suite to create an educational and bilingual Brochure LACE 2013:

    They personally distributed the brochure (with the help of some of their friends) amongst families, youth, seniors, and other participants at a local Latino festival in Syracuse. LACE did an incredible job for their community, and was proud of it.

    We have high expectations that next year the two youth groups will continue participating with us in this collaborative program, and meet at the Lab again next summer to share experiences and come up with new ways to improve communities and bird habitat in their neighborhoods. In addition we’d like to include more groups from the state of New York. We are certain that LACE and The Thicklets inspire many more young people to follow in their footsteps!

    photo © Marta del Campo

  • The Spanish Action League Theater Youth Group

    The goal of this Syracuse, NY theater project is to keep youth developing their abilities and interests through the arts, and especially in their native language. Each year, the theater youth group chooses works in Spanish literature that can stimulate learning and engagement for children and encourage them to continue their studies through university or college.

    photo © Marilu Lopez Fretts
    This year, one of the chosen works for the central New York audiences was from a collection of short stories called The Golden Age (La Edad de Oro) by José Martí, the famous Cuban hero and poet from the late nineteenth century. The story, “The Two Nightingales” (“Los Dos Ruiseñores”), has been incorporated into a mission to help the children learn about urban birds, as well as how to help and protect them. The project was co-produced by The Spanish Action League Theater Youth Group (La Joven Guardia del Teatro Latino), Punto de Contacto/Point of Contact, Inc., and the Syracuse Community Folk Art Center. The theater group is a program within the Spanish Action League of Onondaga County, Inc. (La LIGA), and Punto de Contacto is an arts organization that works with Syracuse University to promote diversity and the exchange of ideas though the arts.

    photo © Marta del Campo
    Over the summer, the theater group participated in workshops where youth, parents, and volunteers learned not only about literature and theater, but also how to care for the environment. In some fun and educational activities offered as part of El Punto Art Studio workshops at La Casita Cultural Center, for example, they learned about acting, set design, makeup, photography, and of course about birds, too! This workshop was set up by Punto de Contacto/Point of Contact, Inc., and the final scenery for the play was made by youth participants here.
    These are some photos by Marilú López Fretts at El Punto Art Studio during the selection of play parts and workshop activities:

    photo © Marilú López Fretts
    The play follows a Chinese legend about an emperor living in a fine porcelain palace who becomes involved with a nightingale from the nearby forest as well as a toy nightingale in his regal abode, and the story emphasizes “the importance of love, valuing and respecting nature, and thinking and living in freedom,” as the program summarized it. After the show, some of the youth actors talked about the CUBs kits available after the performance, encouraging community members to participate in data collection or bird-friendly planting. Sound effects of wildlife, such as–you guessed it–nightingales, but also a cow and some frogs, were provided by the Macaulay Library here at the Lab.

    Creative Director José Miguel Hernandez, who adapted the play from Martí’s story and wrote the music for the show, shared his feelings about actors and the arts with us before the performance:

    “Art is the force that moves the Latino Theater Youth Troupe and the world. It will be integrated in our costumes, make-up, lights, photography, songs, choreography, scenery — in short, it is found in everything we use to interpret characters and roles as a fundamental part of creative and exploratory theater. This is what defines our work with the actors. Our future is in these children and their art, as well as in the hands of the society that will support them in achieving their dreams.”

    What a magical combination: developing a wonderful play, inspiring one’s community to learn about urban birds, and studying how to help and protect the birds in one’s neighborhood!

  • Akitoi Learning Center

    The Akitoi Learning Center in South El Monte, CA is a preschool that emphasizes the development of communication skills, how to solve problems and make decisions, and self-help and -esteem. We sent them some CUBs kits earlier this year, and they used them in their lessons on the rainforest and Earth Day, and also involved the students, their families, and school staff in the addition of birdseed feeders, water bowls, and hummingbird feeders around the school grounds, which everyone enjoyed.

    Last week, we were happily surprised to receive a packet of art pieces created by Akitoi preschoolers (with captions by their teacher, Melissa Schwartz) as a thank you for our kits and help, and since we appreciated their effort to get their wonderful art to us, we wanted to share their work with you, too!

  • Leaders for the World, Inc.

    Leaders for the World, Inc.
    A few months ago in Puerto Rico, Leaders for the World, Inc. organized the second Urban Birds of the Cantera Peninsula Celebration, working with a CUBs mini-grant and twelve- to eighteen-year-olds who are part of the Proyecto Eco-Cantera Jóvenes Pro Conservación, or the Pro-conservation Eco-Cantera Youth Project. The Eco-Cantera project, which is one of Leaders for the World’s educational initiatives, seeks to encourage youth consciousness of nature in the Cantera Peninsula as well as their leadership in future environmental conservation efforts. Through activities and workshops, Eco-Cantera participants learn how to identify and study wildlife in their community, and become more appreciative of the value of both their natural and cultural surroundings. The program also stimulates creativity and development of new ideas, projects, and activities that can motivate the education and stewardship of participants’ peers and neighbors.

    The Urban Birds of the Cantera Peninsula Celebration focused on educational activities that taught about identification, appreciation, and protection of birds in urban habitats, and emphasized the sense that both birds and humans belong to the same environmental community. This year, three activities were developed: Observing and Identifying Our Urban Birds, Growing Plants for Our Urban Birds, and Create Your Favorite Urban Bird. Follow the Eco-Cantera youth through their projects below!

    Observing and Identifying Our Urban Birds

    Biologist Ángel Soldevilla volunteers to present about identification and bird-watching techniques
    photo © Leaders for the World, Inc.

    photo © Leaders for the World, Inc.
    Leaders for the World was grateful for the assistance they received from Fernando Silva, Founder and Director of the Institute of Sciences for the Conservation of Puerto Rico, Eliezer Nieves, Special Assistant to the Secretary of Puerto Rico’s Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, and Ángel Soldevila, a biologist. These professionals volunteered their time to show participants about birds and wildlife in the Cantera Peninsula, and served as guides and teachers during bird observations and data collection. These observations took place in three separate locations in the community: the coast of Los Corozos Lagoon, the Community Center Plaza/Las Margaritas neighborhood, and El Mirador, the point of highest elevation in the area.

    photo © Leaders for the World, Inc.
    In each of these distinct ecosystems youth were able to spot different bird species and identify them with the help of their chaperones and a copy of ‘Birds of Puerto Rico Through Photographs’ by Mark W. Oberle. Armed with cameras, binoculars, and good old pen-and-paper, participants completed their 10-minute observations and were satisfied with a job well done. Although the only CUBs focal species seen were the Rock Pigeon and House Sparrow, they compiled lists that included seventeen other native species, like the wonderful Green-throated Carib, the robin-like Red-legged Thrush, and the piratical Magnificent Frigatebird. The Greater Antillean Grackle was the most frequently seen species, with 29 individuals spotted around the Community Center Plaza alone!

    Growing Plants for Our Urban Birds

    photo © Leaders for the World, Inc.

    For this activity, Eco-Cantera participants walked to the community garden in the Bravos de Boston neighborhood, where volunteers Ana Del Valle and Sonia Ramos taught them about the history of the garden’s establishment and the need to save public urban spaces for the enjoyment of community members. They also showed participants how to plant and care for seeds, while Mr. Nieves gave a brief talk on the importance of trees to birds’ life cycles. Seeds provided by CUBs were planted, and when they grow large enough they’ll be transplanted into areas around the community for the neighborhood’s enjoyment.

    Create Your Favorite Urban Bird

    photo © Leaders for the World, Inc.

    photo © Leaders for the World, Inc.
    We all know that using the arts as a teaching tool greatly enriches the learning experience and allows for the application of knowledge in a more fun way. In this final activity, participants were taught about the importance of looking closely and examining significant and distinguishing features of birds. Species seen during the observation activity were largely the inspiration for artwork. Eco-Cantera facilitators Enid Martínez and Debbie Boneta reviewed the distinctive characteristics of common local birds (each participant got a photo of a different bird) and went through the various materials that could be used for artwork.

     

    photo © Leaders for the World, Inc.
    With many types of paper and organic or recycled material, as well as coloring media from watercolors to varnishing spray-paint, the youth created fantastic artwork that will be displayed at a future Eco-Cantera event. In the photo on the right, Eco-Cantera participant Desirée shows her mixed-media representation of a Red-legged Thrush, while on the left we have Deimary working on a collage of a Purple Gallinule.

    Conclusion

    At the end of the Urban Birds of the Cantera Peninsula Celebration, all participants expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to learn so much about the nature around them. Yarisel Lozano and Debbie Boneta, part of the Leaders for the World, Inc. team, wrote us to share their experiences with the event, and said that, “Through the process of species identification, these youth don’t only recognize or encounter birds hidden in urban structures, but discover themselves by walking through their hometown and stopping to look around in the unique space. By seeing life in the trees and the lagoon, in the buildings, homes, and streets, they are coming in contact with a perspective of their community that otherwise would never have been revealed to them.”

  • Friends of Forsythe

     

    For the past several years, leaders of the Friends of Forsythe urban bird environmental education program George Morgan and Les Murray have been working with students at Pleasantville, NJ public schools at Leeds Ave and Washington Ave through after-school projects. Friends of Forsythe is a non-profit organization devoted to supporting the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey through a variety of education, conservation, and community involvement programs.

    Once a month, George and Les, affectionately known as ‘the bird people’, would visit both schools and go on observation walks with students, recording what CUBs focal species they saw and teaching the kids about the ‘Bird of the Month’. Using the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s coloring book, students explored the features of common birds in their area, and they also learned about important habitat needs for urban birds. As you can see from photos of the bird-watchers and some of the letters that students from the Pleasantville schools sent to ‘the bird people’, participants in the after-school program really enjoyed learning about birds, and especially using binoculars!

  • Cuyamaca Outdoor School

    photo © Cuyamaca Outdoor School
    The Cuyamaca Outdoor School is having their annual Open House September 28 this year. Cuyamaca Outdoor School is San Diego County Office of Education’s 6th grade camp program serving Southern California (approximately 12,000 students every year) in Descanso, CA. The event is free for future campers, their families, alumni, principals, teachers, community members, and media to learn about and experience a little bit about camping.

    photo © Cuyamaca Outdoor School
    A new part of the curriculum this year is some public participation in scientific research projects, like the monitoring of coast live oak phenophases — or stages in their life cycle — working with the National Phenology Network, and tracking animal presence in the neighborhood to learn about relationships with native plant restoration and fire recovery. Other new projects include Celebrate Urban Birds data collection and the Great World Wide Star Count, and the usual activities involve campus tours, meeting with the camp nurse, live raptor presentations, swimming, rock climbing, hiking, creating crafts, eating food, and listening to a live local band. In recent years, attendance has grown to over 500 people!

    photo © Cuyamaca Outdoor School
    Angela Kemsley, Outdoor Education Program Specialist at the Cuyamaca Outdoor School, wrote us that, “We offer ‘camperships’ and fundraising opportunities to schools to allow everyone to participate regardless of background or financial situation. Many of the students we serve have never been on a hike before. Many have never even been to a city park before! We teach them how they can connect to nature even in an urban setting.” This year, Kemsley says, “We would like to focus on having students participate in projects that are specific to our site, as well as projects that they can participate in once they get home.”

  • Children’s Museum of Brownsville

    Tuesday, June 18th, children in a summer enrichment program by the Children’s Museum of Brownsville, Texas, had lots of fun participating in a day of citizen science around Dean Porter Park, near the museum. Equipped with the Celebrate Urban Birds species sheets and Texas Parks & Wildlife checklists, the kids spotted lots of birds, like Laughing Gulls, Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, Double-crested Cormorants, and, a rare sight in the US given the species’ quite small range in south Texas, Great Kiskadees.

    photo © News Center 23
    Jennifer Williams, Education Director at the Children’s Museum of Brownsville, told us, “My students were so excited about this project and they had a wonderful time today. In fact, they have asked me to find more Citizen Science Projects that they can participate in!” The Brownsville Herald ran a story on the event, focusing on eight-year-old Irene de La Fuente, one of the participants in the Brite Minds Summer Enrichment Program, who dreams of becoming a ‘superstar birder’ and is proud of the wealth of species in the Rio Grande Valley that birders from all over the place come to find.

    photo © News Center 23
    You can watch the participants at work through the coverage of the event by News Center 23 of the Rio Grande Valley. A day like this seems to match the Children’s Museum’s motto, “Introducing children to a world of learning through discovery and imagination,” quite perfectly! We hope the children participating in the Museum’s summer program get to experience more events like this one.

  • Marshall Leadership Academy

    Earlier this year, the Marshall Leadership Academy in Grand Prairie, Texas, had a math, science, and reading night organized for families of students and the community to learn about birds. Using the Celebrate Urban Birds packets to teach about identifying birds and encourage participation in observing birds out in the open, dozens of families enjoyed learning about local birds from the posters.

    photo © Brenda Townsend

  • Celebrate Urban Birds Kingsport

    Friday May 24, 2013 at 11:00 AM from DKA Office W. Main Street, Kingsport TN

    The Celebrate Urban Birds Kingsport event will be a one hour guided walk covering 6 city blocks and will highlight multiple locations where birds are celebrated through art. Active urban bird watching will be led by Rack Cross, Kingsport Birding Trail Project Manager & Development Services Coordinator for the City Of Kingsport. Bonnie Macdonald, Director of the City of Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts will provide commentary on the art. The walk will start at the Downtown Kingsport Association building at 140 W Main Street in Kingsport. This event is free and open to the public, but there is a limited number of spaces, RSVP should be made to Chasity Carter at dkafront@DowntownKingsport.org or call (423) 246-6550.

    For more information contact Rack Cross at RackCross@KingsportTN.gov or call (423) 229-9492.

    This Celebrate Urban Birds event is brought to you by The Downtown Kingsport Association, The City of Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts, the, The Kingsport Birding Trail, and Cornell Ornithology Lab.

    Celebrate Urban Birds is a citizen science project from Cornell Lab of Ornithology, focused on a better understanding of the value of green spaces for birds. This project connects people of all ages and backgrounds to birds and the natural world through the arts and fun neighborhood activities.

    LOCAL ORGANIZERS:


    Suzanne Barrett Justis, Artist
    Chasity Carter, Marketing and Communications Manager Downtown Kingsport Association
    Rack Cross, Kingsport Birding Trail Project Manager & Development Services Coordinator
    City of Kingsport
    Bonnie Macdonald, Director, Office of Cultural Arts City of Kingsport
    Sherri Mosley, Executive Director, Downtown Kingsport Association
    William Stephanos, Program Administrator, Office of Cultural Arts City of Kingsport

    In conjunction with this Celebrate Urban Birds event, the City of Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts is announcing a special sponsorship opportunity. A bronze sculpture named Birdwatchers by Gregory Johnson has been on display downtown for the last year as part of the annual juried exhibition Sculpture Walk. The annual Sculpture Walk exhibition gets changed every year. Over the past 6 years the city has been fortunate to keep 8 works of art for the permanent public art collection. The Office of Cultural Arts and many community members have had their eye on Birdwatchers all year but the time for it to leave us has come. We have been given special permission by the artist to hang on to it for a few extra months in hope of raising enough money to include it in our permanent public art collection. It is now residing outside of the city planning building on Market Street. So far $9,000 has been raised to buy this sculpture, and another $9,000 is needed. For more information on sponsorship of this or other public works of art, contact the City of Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts at (423) 392-8414 or email WilliamStephanos@KingsportTN.gov.

  • Youth Workshop: Careers, Conservation & Nature

    The Celebrate Urban Birds project held another Youth Summit here at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology on April 25 and April 26, 2013. The Lab hosted 21 youth from Brooklyn and from Syracuse NY. Youth got a chance to:

    • learn about careers in conservation science
    • interact with scientists
    • learn about higher education
    • get an inside look at cutting edge research and technology
    • explore Lab programs
    • tour the Lab of Ornithology
    • experience Cornell

    Thursday focused on exploring Cornell. Youth visited the Johnson Museum of Art, listened to a talk about the admissions process in the Latino Studies department, and got an official campus tour. They also got to experience Cornell dining!

    On Friday participants did some early morning bird banding, explored the Museum of Vertebrates, looked for nests in Sapsucker Woods, and learned about our Bioacoustics Research Program .

    Youth also got to interact with scientists and learn about cutting-edge research and technology. They learned about the power of community-based citizen science, web design and data visualization, got an in-depth look at Macaulay Library and met archivists, recordists, and researchers. The workshop ended with an overview of the Lab’s conservation science initiatives in the neotropics.

  • National Institute of Astrophysics, Optics, and Electronics, Mexico

    In Santa Cruz Texmalaquilla, a town at the base of the country’s highest peak in the state of Puebla, Mexico, a Celebrate Birds Month recently took place at the elementary school during this May and June with the support of CUBs and the Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica, Óptica y Electrónica of Mexico. Twenty-four students in the school’s EcoClub participated in a series of activities designed to teach about birds and how to live more sustainably over three weeks.

    photo © Nicole Gilbert
    Over the course of Celebrate Birds Month, students learned about the parts of a bird by labeling a bird, filling in the bird-coloring pages of in a book of local birds, and creating birds from paper plates. Excited students learned how to identify birds, use binoculars, and use a bird guide as the group went out on the school grounds to find local birds and complete a 10-minute bird count. They were so excited to be able to identify the local House Sparrows on their own from their guidebooks and record the data on their sheets, while learning about the benefits and joys of citizen science, and hopefully better appreciating the natural resources in their surrounding environment.

    photo © Nicole Gilbert
    Always loving a snack, participants learned about how different birds have different beaks to eat different things. Students were given bird cards at random and as the group spoke out loud about the different foods in the front of the class, the students with cards had to see if they had the proper bird and beak for this type of food. Once the right bird was identified with the food item, the food was passed out to all of the hungry students.

    photo © Nicole Gilbert
    The last few sessions were about birds and their habitats. In order to create a bird-friendly habitat, students created feeders from painted plastic bottles and planted bird-attracting plants in the school’s flower garden.

    photo © Nicole Gilbert
    On top of the EcoClub activities, each student prepared a bird mobile to present to their class about a local bird, and the entire school (240 students) participated in a bird art contest. Contestants had to draw a Mexican bird, and 3 winners in every grade (1-6) received a cloth drawstring backpack, the CUBs packet of bird posters and seeds, and colored pencils. The 1st prize winners in every class also received a bird feeder and seeds.

    photo © Nicole Gilbert
    photo © Nicole Gilbert
    Nicole Gilbert, one of the event planners, told us that, “Having a day with amazing resources, information, and activities showing them the amazing bird life around them would be and mean a lot to the children and families of this town. I and Mexico’s National Institute of Astrophysics, Optics, and Electronics really want to open the eyes of the residence to the beauty around them.” Once the events were completed, she reported that “The kids in the EcoClub were so excited throughout all of the activities and are asking when we are going to go birding again!”

  • The Shack Neighborhood House

    The Shack Neighborhood House provides an inclusive, fun and safe environment for learning and recreation in Pursglove, WV. The group is always looking for new and creative ways to engage their participants, and bird-watching is a new experience for most of their members and staff, so they combined the arts, gardening and local bird-watching into one fun-filled event that turned out to be a great way to begin the spring season!

    Another of their goals is to encourage young people in the community to appreciate and interact with their outdoor environment in a new way, and The Shack Neighborhood House partnered with the Audubon Society and local Master Gardening program to help do this on the 20th of April, 2013, in an Earth Day celebration.

    photo © The Shack Neighborhood House
    The Shack’s elementary age after-school program was responsible for growing starter plants, and additional plants, bird feeders and bird baths which were set up before the event. The Junior Volunteers (middle-school and high school age) were responsible for learning and eventually presenting the 16 focal birds and birds indigenous to the area. They created posters and signage to display in the garden. The goal was for young people to take ownership of the program and be the primary educators during the event.

    In The Shack’s playground and garden area, all 120 program participants (families and young people), community members, local leaders, and partnering agencies ended up celebrating being outside and learning more about the nature and creatures around them. During two bird observation sessions, families and kids learned how to watch and identify birds they had seen through the help of CUBs materials and a local Audubon Society expert. The Shack also invited a member of the local wildlife rehabilitation force to bring a live falcon for the kids, which was a great teaching tool!

    photo © The Shack Neighborhood House
    Other attractions at the event were various booths with fun and educational activities for kids, including a game where they sorted recyclable materials, a composting game, seedling- and flower-planting, and healthy snacks. Two scientists from West Virginia University came to showcase examples of exotic bugs (and not only dead specimens!) and different stages of rock formation. Also, local artist Eddie Spaghetti hosted a booth with a great collection of crafts material for kids to create bird-themed art to take home.

    Jenna Lohnes, one of the event organizers, wrote us:
    “I was delighted by how interested our young people were to do the bird observation. Even toddlers as young as 2 and 3 were really excited to try and find birds and quietly waited for them.” She also mentioned that the week after the event, The Shack had a guest speaker come talk about career choices at the after-school program. Jenna writes that, “He asked our kids what they wanted to do when they group up expecting the typical ‘athlete, doctor, fireman’ answers (the speaker was a former WVU football player) and was surprised when several of our elementary aged kids who attended the Earth Day celebration quickly answered: ‘entomologist’ and ‘ornithologist’.” We couldn’t ask for a more inspiring response to the amazing work by The Shack Neighborhood House! To learn more about the group, check out their website!

  • The Branch Brook School

    The Branch Brook School in Newark, NJ is two blocks away from the historic Branch Brook Park, which is part of the oldest park system in the US and home to several thousand cherry trees. The Branch Brook School uses the Park to go on birdwatching hikes; for field days, soccer festivals, and Cherry Blossom Runs; and to paint and make scientific observations of nature. Early this summer, the Branch Brook School had a 4th grade bird tally and celebration at the Park, hoping to attract up to 300 participants: students, parents, and community members, including local artists (e.g. the Playwrights Theater, Newark Museum and Greater Newark Conservancy artists), musicians (e.g. Newark Symphony Orchestra), and politicians (e.g. Essex County Executive Joseph DiVicenzo and New Jersey Senator Theresa Ruiz).

    photo © Meghan Barry
    In the past the Branch Brook School has found their bird migration study to be one of the most important initiatives at the school, since urban communities don’t always get a chance to experience nature as much as others, and this study helped give the school community exposure to learning about birds. The 4th grade class took a bird migration hike in the fall will take another one in the spring, collaborating with the New Jersey Audubon Society (Jennifer Dowd from the Essex County Audobon Society spoke at the event) and using the Cornell Lab of Ornithology online resources to make comparisons between the two seasons.

    photo © Meghan Barry
    On May 29th, 4th grade students spent the majority of the day working in teams to identify as many species as they can throughout the northern end of Branch Brook Park. The students observed birds using methods from New Jersey Audubon’s World Series of Birding and the Celebrate Urban Birds framework, and received participation certificates and awards from a New Jersey Audubon Educator. The following day the whole school participated in planting stations at the Park and 4th graders taught their younger peers how to conduct ten-minute bird surveys. Two of the 4th graders also spoke to the public about their experience birdwatching.

    photo © Meghan Barry
    All the data collected will be entered onto the Celebrate Urban Birds website as well as utilized by the 4th grade students in their math/technology lessons following the celebration days. Students will be encouraged to make graphs and posters to share the data with the entire school.

    photo © Meghan Barry
    Joseph Cullen, Principal at Branch Brook School, wrote us that, “Giving urban kids a chance to shine will inspire them to do great things in the future, especially for their community. For our multiple disabled students, it gives them an outlet to experience and feel nature. When the Olmstead Firm designed Branch Brook Park in 1895 (they also designed Central Park in New York City) I think they had events like this in mind. Having our youth enjoy the park and teach the world about Newark’s native birds is an event that will be a tremendous success. Newark, New Jersey is in the news all the time, but sometimes it is for negative reasons. At Branch Brook School we would like to celebrate with our school community a project that can bring people together, to enjoy nature and learn about science through bird watching.”

    Below is a slideshow with more pictures of the event, and you can read a local newspaper’s coverage here.

  • George Junior Republic Union Free School District

    The teachers, teaching assistants, and students over at George Junior Republic UFSD in Freeville, NY pursued a project that integrated habitat creation, wildlife observation, and artistic inspiration on the school grounds in the fall of 2013.

    Before the program began, project leader Dawn Marie George shared the Agency’s motivations for the enterprise with us:

    “Traditionally, my students are successful with hands-on, experiential learning opportunities. Very often, the pride students feel from having successful learning outcomes with these experiences spills over into their academic subjects, where otherwise reluctant and resistant readers and writers make genuine efforts to read and write about what they’ve just learned — especially when they can turn around and teach it to someone else. I have no doubt that with a project like this, students will seek to bring their social workers, parents/guardians, family members, staff and even teachers and other students to the bird watching garden, and eagerly educate them about all aspects of the project. We hope it will have a true ripple effect!”

    During the school year, the students learned about the CUBS focal species and how to identify and observe them, and in the spring when the school year ended, there was an open house where the students shared their knowledge with the guests and explained that Phase 2 of the project would begin in September, outlined below.

    Typically, students at GJR UFSD don’t have rural backgrounds and are therefore especially curious about the natural environment around them in Freeville, becoming more engaged in active learning with the outdoors than they tend to exhibit in a classroom setting.

    The students built different bird-feeding stations that offered various types of bird feed, using wooden stakes they painted with pot-trays on top that were put in the newly-planted bird garden. This garden, filled with bird-friendly bushes and plants, was strategically positioned across from the classroom’s large south-facing window. Given the easy visibility, the students set up an observation station complete with binoculars, Celebrate Urban Birds data collection sheets, and field guides.

    The different feeders offered avian guests peanuts (in the shell), whole corn, a commercial “fruit and nut” mix, black oil sunflower seeds, millet, and a commercial “wild bird” mix. Students also made their own suet from beef tallow, peanut butter and bird seed, and observed which bird species frequented each type of seed the most and hypothesized as to why they had strong preferences for any specific seed types.

    Working in pairs, students have been observing these feeders for 10-minute periods several times a week, identifying and counting the species visiting the garden with the help of Peterson and Audubon field guides in addition to the CUBs focal species material.

    To learn more about the William George Agency’s history, click here; the George Junior Republic Union Free School District’s website can be reached here.

  • Opportunities Unlimited for the Blind/Birding by Ear

    On April 6, from 10AM-4PM, join the Michigan Birdbrains in Dearborn, MI, to celebrate the wonderful array of bird species in southeastern Michigan! The Birdbrains are a group of youth and young adults who are blind or visually impaired and who have learned to identify and enjoy Michigan birds by sound rather than by sight.

    All are welcome to join in the fun! If you are blind or visually impaired, this is a special treat, as the focus will be on what birds sound like, and not on what they look like. This event, which will be held at the University of Michigan Environmental Interpretive Center (EIC), 4901 Evergreen in Dearborn, Michigan, is sponsored by CUBs, the University of Michigan at Dearborn, and Opportunities Unlimited for the Blind.

    Image from CBS news report courtesy of University of Michigan-Dearborn
    photo © CBS News
    Beginning at 10 AM participants will learn how to listen to and identify songs and calls of focus bird species, and then will travel the trails in the natural area surrounding the EIC and listen for birds which can be recognized by ear. After lunch participants will investigate how and why birds do what they do with activities like building their own nest out of natural and arts and crafts materials; planting a birdfeeder; gaining an understanding of auditory communication; learning about bird body parts like feathers, beaks and skulls and how their attributes affect the life history of each species in their environment. Finally, participants will become acquainted with bird banding to understand the migratory habits and health of local bird species–especially those of Michigan’s state bird, the American Robin.

    By 4 PM, each participant will have lots of fun items to take home, and all will have a greater awareness of the lives of birds which inhabit our cities and enhance our lives with beautiful music. With educating and enabling blind and visually impaired youth to identify urban birds, the Birding by Ear group is opening the world to them in an area they previously may have thought reserved for the sighted. The Field Services Director of Opportunities Unlimited for the Blind, Donna Posont, told us, “By teaching them techniques for identifying urban birds much is accomplished, in addition to promoting an awareness of the natural environment. Confidence is gained by the youth in having skills of bird identification and also improved mobility skills from traveling trails in search of birds.”

    So join the Birding by Ear group and Michigan Birdbrains for a great day of fun, listening and learning, and plan to arrive by 9:30 to register. If you can only come in the afternoon, you may register at 12:30. To reserve your spot, or for more information, please contact Donna Posont at 313-220-8140 or DPosont@umd.umich.edu.

    Update: New media about this event is available!

    CBS ran a story on the Birdbrains, and you can watch the report below:

    They also ran an evening news piece that focused more on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Macaulay Library’s contributions to the group, available here.

    Donna was also interviewed by Michigan Public Radio! You can listen to the radio interview by clicking on the photo below.

  • Sunshine Arts

    Robert Bohne, a volunteer artist, instructs Sunshine Arts students on the basics of working with watercolor.
    photo © Sunshine Arts
    The Sunshine Arts group is dedicated to promoting community and empowering children with creative outlets by teaching arts, music, dance, and nature skills. This year, Sunshine Arts intends to continue their tradition of outdoor appreciation and raise interest in a garden project, in which they plan to grow produce with their community and provide a safe habitat for local bird populations in Upper Darby, PA.

    Sunshine Arts student Daaz displaying the art he created with the help of volunteer instructor Robert Bohne.
    photo © Sunshine Arts
    In order to demonstrate the importance of urban wildlife to the students and emphasize their role as stewards in maintaining it, some time in June the Sunshine Arts group will give an educational workshop on local wildlife with an arts-related exercise and a trip around the neighborhood, both of which will particularly instruct participants on various local birds and how to best observe and identify them. Then, students will learn about important urban flora by planting bird-friendly plants, clearing weeds, and creating better habitat for local wildlife in the Sunshine Arts garden.

    Participants will also make a mobile based on the information they have gathered on the species they observed in the area, incorporating information like habitat, diet, and the calls and movements of the birds. These mobiles will be put on display at Sunshine Arts as part of the event, and will serve as a reminder to students of the value of their neighborhood wildlife.

    The entire event will be filmed by resident artist and filmmaker Kat Lehmer, who will create a short documentary feature that will later be shown on the Sunshine Arts website, and who has just created a wonderful update on what’s going on at Sunshine Arts in the video above. The students themselves will also begin work on a humorous bird-themed video as part of their film class following the event.

  • Camp Winnebago


    Camp Winnebago, which has been serving the needs of the developmentally disabled for over thirty years, is setting up a project this year in which campers and staff will celebrate birds in various ways as an expansion of their current nature program.

    photo © Camp Winnebago
    The campers will set up a garden to attract birds, which will include bird-feeders and bird-houses they’ll have built as arts and crafts projects, and which will give participants a chance to experience the thrill of planting and nurturing something while they watch it grow.

    The garden and the natural area surrounding Winnebago Creek, as well as the nearby town of Caledonia, will serve as great locations for campers to participate in bird observations, training on identification of Celebrate Urban Birds focal species beforehand so they can conduct surveys several times over the spring, summer, and fall.

    photo © Camp Winnebago
    The Camp’s summer theme this year is “Vacationing Around the World,” where campers pretend to visit ten countries over the course of the summer. This is a great way to look at the different birds that are native to countries other than the US, and campers will be coloring pictures, making bird mobiles, and painting a mural with the various bird species.

    “Being in the outdoors and enjoying nature is a universal activity that everyone can enjoy together with little adaptation,” Camp Director Barbara Cage wrote us. “We seek out the kind of activities that naturally provide opportunities for everyone to participate on an equal basis, and are excited about this easily inclusive opportunity since it is a valuable Camp program that every camper can enjoy.”

    photo © Camp Winnebago

  • Groundwork Lawrence

    Groundwork Lawrence has been serving its community in Lawrence, MA for more than ten years, with a mission to bring about the sustained regeneration, improvement, and management of the physical environment in Lawrence by developing community-based partnerships that promote environmental and social wellbeing. The group is beginning to extend the scope of its work toward more direct ecological improvements and education in the city, and one of the ways they plan to carry this out is through a Celebrate Urban Birds event in the beginning of May, hoping to involve the entire community in a project at Manchester Street Park and the community garden.

    Manchester Street Park is a rehabilitated brownfield (formerly industrial) site which was once a trash-to-energy incinerator and rail-yard, and it is located at the junction of the Spicket River Greenway and Manchester Lawrence Branch Rail Trail, making it a perfect site for environmental improvement.

    photo © Groundwork Lawrence

    Groundwork Lawrence’s goal is to provide a first-hand educational experience on the importance of native plants, food webs, and plant/pollinator interactions, so they planned to improve local bird and wildlife habitat in Manchester Street Park, incorporate local artists in the creation of a bird- and pollination-themed mural on the Park’s community garden shed, and educate the people of Lawrence on the basics of urban bird ecology.

    photo © Groundwork Lawrence
    One of the group leaders, Ben Padilla, explained to us recently that all these elements of the project are advancing quite well so far, writing, “Over the past few months we have done a number of urban birds related educational and outreach events throughout the city, culminating in a week of urban birds specific programming at our YMCA summer camp which ended with the older groups of kids doing our citizen science point count survey on the last day of the week.”

    Ben continued, “The most diverse, and what I think was the most fun aspect of our Celebrate Urban Birds project were the educational components. We held a number of different events throughout Lawrence from urban birding hikes among the abandoned mill buildings and presentations at the public library, to a number of events with kids in classrooms, clubs, and camps. In July the 11-13 year olds at our YMCA Urban Adventures summer camp spent an entire week celebrating the urban birds of Lawrence. They learned how to use binoculars, how to identify birds, and even collected real scientific data on populations of urban birds at Manchester Street Park.”

    photo © Groundwork Lawrence
    Through all the activities, they removed aggressively invasive vegetation (non-native or noxious plant species such as tree-of-heaven, black locust and Asian bittersweet) from an area about 700 feet long and 15 feet wide and with the help of New Balance, the Groundwork Lawrence Green Team, and the Spicket River Crew, they planted it with roughly 1,800 native bird- and pollinator-friendly plant species (cone flowers, sunflowers, winterberry, and Virginia creeper), which can all provide food and habitat to local birds. Groundwork Lawrence received 1,600 native wildflower seedlings from the New England Wildflower Society, and volunteers from Pfizer Pharmaceutical planted another 200+ shrubs, trees, and wildflowers.

    As part of the habitat improvements and the arts, and with the help of Lawrence Youth Build (an organization dedicated to revitalizing low-income communities through youth members) the group reconstructed the community garden shed with a green roof. The shed was painted by Alex Brian, cofounder and art director of the non-profit Elevated Thought Foundation, with a mural that displays the beauty of urban nature emerging an industrial city. Kids from Lawrence’s Boys and Girls Club were able to go out with Alex and got the chance to learn about some of the basics of mural composition and design; they even learned to write their names with spray cans!

    photo © Groundwork Lawrence

    During the educational components of the project, participants have been introduced to the life history and identification of the Celebrate Urban Birds focal species, and learned to view the urban environment as an ecosystem utilized by many species of birds, mammals, insects, and plants. They have applied what they have learned by engaging in the habitat improvement and citizen science data collection project at Manchester Street Park!

    In closing, Ben told us that his vision “was not only to transform habitat for urban wildlife, or to beautify a park with an incredible mural, but most importantly to educate the people of Lawrence, especially its youth, on the rich diversity of birds that can be found in the city, and the importance of the little green spaces that support them.” And it sounds like all these goals were definitely met–thanks, Ben, and Groundwork Lawrence!

    photo © Groundwork Lawrence

  • Friends of Haffen Park

    Event Update

    Next Tuesday, on March 26th, the group will be at Haffen Park after having put out some bird feeders on Monday in each area to see which birds are back for spring. So far only House Sparrows and American Robins have been around, so maybe it is still too cold!

    Friends of Haffen Park

    For the past twelve years, the Friends of Haffen Park in Bronx, NY have worked diligently with the Bronx Park Department on gardening and community events in the Park. More recently, they have been interested in birdwatching and teaching the Park community about local birds, especially trying to increase their awareness and sense of stewardship for the birds that nest and live in the Park year-round.

    In the past, the group has used professional bird guides and donated binoculars to invite community members to come learn about the birds that enjoy the seeds, tall trees, and grubs found throughout the Park. The children who participated last year have been asking when they can do it again, so plans are in the making for another event to take place!

    photo © Friends of Haffen Park
    The Friends of Haffen Park have welcomed Jim Lane, an environmentalist bird guide in the community, to assist them in selecting the best time of the day for bird observation and give them tips on bird identification. Participants will be spread throughout the area for a simultaneous, Park-wide ten-minute bird count.

    Earlier this year, the group started a butterfly garden that was fairly successful, and they feel that planting more flowers and low bushy areas in the Park will help attract even more birds by providing them with more safe areas and food, especially during the winter, when it can be difficult for the local birds to find nourishment.

    photo © Friends of Haffen Park
    Another local group, the Unity Neighborhood Center, runs an after-school program in the Park five days a week. The Friends of Haffen Park plan to work with the UNC’s art teacher to encourage community members to start painting and drawing pictures of birds in their natural habitat and then do an outdoor exhibit at a future event. They’ve found that many of the children and youth members already like to draw and particularly enjoy drawing live animals, such as birds and squirrels, so we expect this upcoming event will be a success!

  • WSKG and Carlisle Community Center

    On February 11th the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and WSKG Public Broadcasting held a community workshop with youth from the Carlisle Community Center in Binghamton, NY to prepare them to become citizen scientists. The youth will be participating in the 2013 Great Backyard Bird Count. The training consisted of learning about common local birds and outdoor observations. Youth also participated in a wonderful art activity to deepen observation.

  • WSKG and Southside Community Center

    On February 6th the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and WSKG Public Broadcasting held a community workshop with youth from the Southside Community Center in Elmira NY to prepare them to become citizen scientists. The youth will be participating in the 2013 Great Backyard Bird Count. The training consisted of learning about common local birds and outdoor observations. Youth also participated in a wonderful art activity to deepen observation.

  • Wild Connections

    Wild Connections and their partner Toledo GROWs are having a Seed Swap on February 23rd, where they hope to inspire fellow gardeners to become citizen scientists, and share know-how through workshops and activities. Click the download below to open their flyer!

    Resource Download:

    Download

    Update Feb. 25th:

    The Wild Connections/Toledo GROWS (Gardens Revitalize Our World) Seed Swap this weekend was a great success, with over a thousand participants! That’s about two hundred more than last year, which was the eighth annual Seed Swap, sponsored by the Toledo Botanical Garden.

    The Wild Connections crew were able to give out practically all their Celebrate Urban Birds material (see the picture below), and also received interesting information from several Seed Swap attendees, who said that they’d had Eastern Bluebirds at their bird-feeders in the last week. So if you live in the Toledo area, keep an eye out for these cheery, two-weeks-early visitors! To read more about the Seed Swap, see the Toledo Blade’s coverage here.

  • Birding as Families from Child’s Perspective, by Ivan Richardson

    Tom Richardson, Ivan’s father, reports:

    “Four years ago, I was looking for something fun that I could do together with my five year old son. I heard about the St. George Winter Bird Festival. We signed up for one of the field trips. The field guide did such a great job helping us identify the birds we saw and pointing out interesting facts about them. My son Ivan became fascinated with this new world of birds. When he went to the library with his Mom he came home with a bag full of books on birds. He would spend hours studying them. Week after week to the library he continued to select books on birds to read. This fascination with birds was now beginning to become a passion. As parents we wanted to encourage his interest and we looked for resources to help us. The following year he joined the Red Cliffs Audubon Society in St. George, UT as their youngest member. He would attend many of their meetings and fieldtrips. Being surrounded by those who shared the same passion and had more knowledge and experience to share with Ivan kindled that fire even more. Last year we took an Ornithology course together at Dixie State College. He was real excited to be in the class with college students at the age of 8. I was curious at how he would respond to being in such an environment. He loved sitting in the front row answering the teachers questions. After one exam, the teacher announced that only one person had aced the entire test. Ivan had not only beaten his Dad, but the rest of the class. He was thrilled and it motivated him even more to learn more about birds and what he could do to help them. Last May, Ivan was invited to speak at the Great Salt Lake Bird Festival in Farmington, UT. The presentation went really well! I think the highlight of the weekend was when he got to meet the keynote speaker of the festival, Greg Miller, on whose experiences the film “The Big Year” was loosely based. They became friends on one of the fieldtrips together and Greg came and attended Ivan’s presentation later that day!

    Ivan decided he wanted to do his own UTAH BIG YEAR in 2012 and finished with 213 different species. This year Ivan was invited to speak at the St. George Winter Bird Festival (Ivan is 9 yrs. old now). What a delight to contribute to the festival where it all started 4 yrs. ago. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology once again provided their assistance by providing their “Celebrate Urban Birds” educational packets for him to distribute at his presentation. The presentation went really well. Ivan hopes that by sharing his love for birds, he might be a good influence on others like the field guide was with him on that first field trip and open up a whole new world that many may not realize is right around them.”

    We’re glad that Ivan was able to share his enthusiasm and expertise on birds! If you want to learn more about the St. George Bird Festival, you can visit their website; here is a video of Ivan’s presentation:

  • Austin Nature & Science Center

    The Austin Nature & Science Center is holding a Celebrate Urban Birds event on Saturday, February 16th.

    Click the link below to download their poster for the event!

    Resource Download:

    Download
  • Native Bird Connections

    The folks over at Native Bird Connections feel privileged to share their educational endeavors with wild birds as humans’ partners. Their birds are the victims of permanent physical or psychological damage rendering them unable to survive in the wild. They will be bringing around four non-releasable wild live raptors to the San Francisco Bay Flyway on Saturday, February 9th, and Sunday, the 10th.

    There will be a 1-hour presentation (check the SF Bay Flyway website for exact times) on the ecology, conservation, and personal story of the raptors being shown, as well as details on how the public can help these raptors and other birds in their area. Native Bird Connections will also have a booth for the public to come and ask questions and to view a live wild raptor up close on both days. For additional information, visit Native Bird Connection’s website or Facebook page.

    Update 2/12/13: The San Francisco Bay Flyway was a great success! As many as 4,000 participants might have attended throughout the weekend, and Native Bird Connections was able to share experiences with an American Kestrel, Eurasian Eagle Owl, and Barn Owl, among others! Check out the photos below, and visit the San Francisco Chronicle article about the Flyway.