The Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School is in its second year of operation serving inner city youth in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The school used their Pennington Adopt-a-School Mini-grant to organize raptor birding trips and an observation event on the school’s rooftop with the goal of exposing students to the natural world.
Philadelphia is home to plenty of raptor species that commonly nest on prominent buildings and landmarks, and going out to watch these birds helps the students see that even in heavily urbanized areas, beautiful feathered predators can survive and live comfortably.
Project leader Robert Fest is the faculty sponsor of the school’s “Student Adventure Squad” and planned an event in which students partnered up with bird identification lists and a pair of binoculars and collected scientific data that the students will be able to use to create their own science projects.
The observation event, which was a small opening ceremony for the project, was open to students, faculty, staff, and family members on the school’s safe roof. The school’s roof provides a 360-degree of the surrounding area, where participants were able to see treetops, cityscapes, and the steeples of local churches, all great and varied bird habitats. Participants observed for ten minutes and recorded the birds they saw; they also helped out any adults in bird identification and proper data collection methods.
The high school’s art club designed flyers and posters advertising the Celebrate Urban Birds Event on the rooftop, as well as informative posters to display around the school stressing the importance of Philadelphia’s bird population and providing information on ways that the local community can help local bird species thrive in an urban environment.