NatureHood Partner spotlight: Nature Saskatchewan
NatureHood is a national program of Nature Canada, with a goal of connecting people of all ages to nature in their neighbourhoods – aka their NatureHoods! Through strong partnerships with our grassroots naturalist clubs and organizations across Canada, NatureHood promotes nature awareness and exposes a new generation of nature lovers.
Nature Saskatchewan recently worked with three schools in Regina to give students in five classes the opportunity to participate in the FeederWatch program. FeederWatch is a program that encourages young people to set up bird feeders and periodically check on how many birds show up to their feeder and what species those birds are. The flexible nature of the program allows participants to choose two consecutive days to check the feeders (and on the same days each week). It’s a program that not only helps track the winter bird populations across the continent but also encourages students to learn more about the birds living in their area.
[caption id="attachment_23984" align="alignright" width="300"] A Downy Woodpecker at a feeder[/caption]
Nature Saskatchewan representatives went to the three participating schools and gave the students a short presentation on what kinds of birds they might see. Throughout the program, students might catch glimpses of finches, magpies, blue jays, or even a partridge in a pear tree. After the presentation, students were provided with materials to make and decorate their own bird feeders. Nature Saskatchewan will also be supplying them with enough seed to get through the winter. Students then set up their feeders under trees or near windows; prime spots for feeders that either protect their visiting birds from the cold when they come to feed or allow the kids to keep an eye on the feeders without always having to go out in the cold themselves.
Participating students will check their feeders for visitors during either their recesses or after school programs depending on the school. Their observation period started between November 12th and November 19th depending on the school, and will likely continue until mid-April. This gives students a chance to see a large variety of birds from the hardy ones that stick around for the Canadian winters to the migratory birds who will have begun to return by April. Additionally, teachers of participating classrooms were put in contact with FeederWatch Canada as well as teachers at other participating schools. This will allow teachers and students alike to share exciting bird sightings and ideas about the program.
When the FeederWatch program in these schools comes to an end, students will be left with their own lists of observed birds as well as shared data from other schools and other FeederWatch participants from across the continent. After the observations are over and the feeders are taken down, the kids will know a little bit more about the feathered friends that hang around their schools and homes, and maybe some of them will be inspired to set up their own feeders at home to continue watching for birds through the spring and summer.