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.
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.
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.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.
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.
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!”