Borah High School

"There are many benefits for our school participating in the Bird by Bird Program!  The equipment and seed provided by this program allows students to learn about birds by actually observing them directly through the classroom windows.  Thus far, biology students have been able to study bird interactions, changes in populations over time such as wintering birds versus year around residents, and food preferences.  Some students have also learned how to build and where to place bird nesting boxes, were able to go on field trips to study birds, and plan school gardens to represent the four Idaho ecosystems.  Being able to observe and identify live birds engages students in learning more than learning from a text. 

Students have learned a tremendous amount by participating in this program. They appear to develop an appreciation for the outdoors and organisms that live there by being able to observe the birds at the feeders. Other more specific things students have learned include:

  1. Squirrels are creative thinkers when it comes to figuring out how to get to the bird seed.  They even come to the classroom window to let us know that they are out of bird seed!
  2. More ringed-neck doves visit the feeders in the fall than any other species.
  3. Doves only feed at the ground feeders while finches will feed at both the hanging and ground feeders. 
  4. Birds feed at different times of the day.  We do not see the same number and type of birds all day long.  There appears to be a morning feeding time and late afternoon.
  5. The ground food needs to be replenished more often than the others, probably because of our resident squirrel population.
  6. The increase of juniper trees in the Owyhee Mountains has negatively affected sage grouse habitat and sage grouse populations.

Most of students have enjoyed observing birds and identifying them the three years we have been involved in this program. Students who participated in last year’s sage grouse field trip had a great time especially when they were able to watch the male sage grouse on the leks and use the radiotelemetry equipment to locate a bird transmitter.

Biology students are looking forward to the third quarter student projects this year where they will have more opportunity to do hands-on projects instead of writing science lab reports! Some of the students will have the opportunity to build bird nesting boxes for the school grounds with BEST students at our school and place them around the school campus to determine what organisms use them in the spring for nesting. Some students may take on the project of presenting the Flying High activities to one of Borah’s elementary feeder schools.  Most students are also looking forward to more bird identification at school, the possibility of taking biking field trips to Kathryn Albertson Park and MK Nature center to observer different types of birds not found at school, and designing and building gardens representing the four Idaho Ecosystems (aquatic, sagebrush steppe, grassland, and forest) to see what new bird species may be attracted to school."

 

What's New

So Far this Fall

November 13, 2015 - 4:54pm -- Kris Stone

The cooper's hawk has made several visits to the feeders this fall.  We saw her (or him) run one dove into the window before feeding on it.

We were able to purchase two game cameras with a grant.  We now have one camera set on the hanging feeders and one on the ground feeders.  We have been taking pictures most of the fall.  The problem has been that we were getting 3000 pictures every 5-6 days.  We now have the cameras set to take a picture every 5 minutes so we can analyze the pictures to see what birds are using the feeders and when.  Biology students will analyze the data during thrid quarter to determine when we are most likely to see birds at the feeders by species.  We will post what we found out!

Students will begin out intensive bird work second semester.  The game cameras have given us the opportunity to collect data while we are doing other things and analyze the data second semester.

If anyone has any ideas on other questions we can answer using the camera data, please let us know!

Borah High School Students Visit the River IBO Site

October 9, 2015 - 4:36pm -- Kris Stone

On September 23, 2015, 32 Borah students and three teachers visited the River IBO site for bird banding.  Heid and her crew  caught 75 birds that day.  The studens had a great time and throroughly engaged with the birds and the science being done at this site!  Thanks to all that made this field trip possible!

April 3, 2014 Point Census Data

April 5, 2015 - 7:35pm -- Kris Stone

Friday, April 3, 2014, was our first offical day of our point census counts. We identified the following birds (19 different species) by sight, sound, or both:  California Gulls, House Finches, House Sparrows, Black-Capped Chickadee, American Robins, Ring-billed Gulls, Red-winged Blackbirds, California Quail, Dark-eyed Juncos, American Kestrels, Mourning Doves, Mallards, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Red-breated Nuthatches, Barn Swallow, American Goldfinches, Brewer's Blackbird, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and Black-billed Magpies.  Our next census will be Friday, April 10, 2015!

Spring is here!

March 31, 2015 - 2:50pm -- Kris Stone

Here is Boah's post for March!  We continue to have the usual visitors at the feeders such as mourning doves, house finches, American goldfinch, and squrriels!  Some new observations we have made include watching the male American goldfinch transform into his breeding plumage; seeing and identifying a Say's Phoebe near the feeders in the tops of the trees and shrubs, singing up a storm; and a pair of mallards and Canada geese at the feeders.

Since the middle of January biology students have been presenting information on the common birds found at Borah as identified from last years bird census counts (36 species).  We are finishing presentations this week.  Studenst have been taking quizzes over the birds visually and vocally about every two weeks.  The week before springbreak, 21 students were able to correctly identify 33 different species visually, and 4 were able to identify 33 speices by their calls!  

This Friday two biology classes will start the Bird Census Project.  Students will identify birds they see and/or hear at 20 different census points for five mintues.  This data will be typed into excel file.  Towards the end of May, students will access the data collected by all students this spring as well as last spring to create a scientific poster.  The posters will be shared as a part of the final exam at the end of the year.  The data will also be uploaded to e-bird and possibly this website.

My students are not really interested in the birds coming to the feeders right outside the classroom windows.  However, what I have found this year and last year, is once we start learning to identify birds for the cenus project, students start sharing stories of birds they hear and see whether at school or at home.   One student told me that she saw an Osprey in east Boise over the weekend and had to explain to her friend's father how she knew it was an osprey.  Another student reported that he saw several Americal Kestrels over springbreak.  A third student sent me pictures of mallard in her front yard.  Students are starting to listen and look birds around them without me asking them to do so!  This is why I love this program so much!

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What we've seen this school year

Observations

Species Count Disposition Date and Time Link

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)
26 Feeder 10/10/2014 - 5:00pm Details

Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)
3 Feeder 10/10/2014 - 9:00am Details

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)
8 Feeder 10/10/2014 - 9:00am Details

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)
11 Ground 10/08/2014 - 10:00am Details

Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)
10 Feeder 10/07/2014 - 9:30am Details

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)
1 Feeder 10/07/2014 - 9:30am Details

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)
20 Feeder 10/06/2014 - 5:30pm Details

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)
2 Ground 10/02/2014 - 10:00am Details

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)
14 Feeder 09/28/2014 - 11:15am Details

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)
3 Ground 09/25/2014 - 10:45am Details

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Chris Jones & Steve DeMers, Grade 11
Boise, Idaho USA

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