"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:
- 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!
- More ringed-neck doves visit the feeders in the fall than any other species.
- Doves only feed at the ground feeders while finches will feed at both the hanging and ground feeders.
- 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.
- The ground food needs to be replenished more often than the others, probably because of our resident squirrel population.
- 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."