Weeks before the event, the Texas Junior Naturalists began to study the focal species using the Celebrate Urban Birds materials sent to us as well as the online resources. The children also walked to each observation site to “practice” observing birds before the event. The Junior Naturalists at the event were in each group so that they could help other children to learn about the birds (bird identification, habitat, etc.)
Each room was decorated with the Celebrate Urban Birds Posters along with a “laundry line” with photos and short facts about each of our focus birds. At each station, participants were encouraged to take some time to study the photographs and information about the birds. Each person registered as they came in: signed release forms, received posters from the Celebrate Urban Bird Kits and got a recyclable bag to put their things in.
One group of children who arrived early helped to plant native plants and create a native plant garden. They were also able to attend all the other stations.
Then the first children to arrive went to the Station 1: Bird BINGO. We adjusted the Bird BINGO game so that it had all of the focal species on the cards. This required a bit of work covering up certain birds on each card and replacing them with a picture of the focal species. It was an effective way for the children to learn the names of the birds and what they looked like. The children loved playing and the prizes for winning were plant seeds, bug jars, and things to promote being outdoors.
The next group that arrived went to Station 2: Bird ART. Here each child studied the birds on the “laundry line” and chose their favorite. Then they created that bird with model magic. The children did a really great job paying attention to the details on the birds. These were made into pins that they could share and teach others about their favorite bird.
Those coming in a little later started off at Station 3: Bird Bungalows and Feeders. At this station children made simple bird feeders they could take home and hang in their yards. We also gave the children a small bag of bird seed. The children colored bird feeders that the Jr. Naturalists put together. Bird houses were given to families who attended. Each participant (who arrived on time) was able to spend a half hour at each station. Then the children were given fresh fruit as a snack.
After snack time, which everyone enjoyed, the children learned about what we called the “Bird Bash Birds.” They also learned about becoming citizen scientists through their observations and recording their findings. Everyone (young and old alike) was excited about this opportunity to help the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. They were also happy that the lab would like to know information about the birds in our colonia.
Groups walked to their observation sites to look for birds and returned with their tally sheets. One larger group stayed at Proyecto Juan Diego to learn about and plant native plants. The children and families enjoyed doing this together. Upon returning from their observation stations the children wrote on postcards and the volunteers recorded the group’s findings.
A participant shared her thoughts with us:
“Este programa me encantó. Fui voluntario junto con mi esposo y mi hija de 9 años. Ahora queremos tener und nido para que los pajaritos vengan a nuestra casa y admirarlos. Ahora vamos al parque y vigilamos las aves y las conocemos por nombre. Hemos plantado plantas en casa y mi hija las cuida y les pone agua…”
“I loved this program. I volunteered together with my husband and my nine-year old daughter. Now we want to have a nestbox so that birds come to our house and we can admire them. Since learning the birds by name we go to the park and watch them all the time. We’ve planted plants at home and my daughter takes care of them and waters them…”