Some people think of crows as a nuisance, but the children at La Casita learned that these smart, quirky birds are good neighbors!
2017 mini-grant winner La Casita Cultural Center, located in Syracuse, NY, conducted a wonderful “Crow Family” project over the course of a few weeks in May! Over twenty people worked together to plan and manage the activities, which consisted of visual and language arts as well as citizen science. La Casita decided to focus on the American Crow, a species that is quite common in their neighborhood and city, to inspire their activities and artwork.
The children read Little Crow to the Rescue, a storybook by Victor Villaseñor, to familiarize themselves with the longstanding relationship between crows and humans. After reading, participants acted out scenes from the story and were even inspired to improvise their own! Then, local artist Juan Cruz came to collaborate on a mask-making arts and crafts activity where everyone created and decorated their own crow masks. The next art project incorporated a mural that is permanently on display in the center. Children used the Celebrate Urban Birds silhouettes to draw and color their own birds, and placed them on trees and in the sky of the mural scene.
A “Crow Family” art installation was in the entrance to the gallery, which was filled with beautiful potted plants. The crow masks hung from the ceiling on wires, as though they were flying over the container garden. During the annual Young Art exhibition, there were over 200 visitors. Attendees of the show loved the exhibit so much, they all wanted to take photos wearing the masks! The bird drawings made such a nice addition to the mural that La Casita decided to keep them up for future visitors to see.
In addition to creating artwork to raise awareness about urban birds, the children at La Casita participated in citizen science research! They spent rainy days at the center watching, listening to, and discussing crow videos and audio recordings from Cornell’s Macaulay Library archive. Once the weather cleared up, they went on three observation sessions to a nearby green space. During one session, the children noted that there weren’t any crows, which sparked a conversation about environmental and landscape changes!
Lastly, the group sowed sunflower seeds outside La Casita to develop their own little green space. They painted bilingual signs to identify the space as “La Casita Garden Celebrates Urban Birds / Jardín La Casita Celebrando las Aves Urbanas.” They also placed a bird feeder in the garden for any lucky visiting birds.
All in all, the project was a huge success! Many families said now they watch for birds all over the neighborhood as a regular activity. We are so happy that La Casita found so much support from their community and neighborhood. Congratulations!