Wrapping up 2015 Bird Sleuth program at Grayson County High School

We had two working classes: Becky Absher’s ecology and Deb Greif’s/Kathy Davis' math analysis. Working with both classes from March through April, Blue Ridge Discovery Center focused on acquainting the students with local birds, their habitats and behavior. Starting in early March, we divided up our instruction time between in-class studies and outdoor walks behind the school. Through Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology curriculum, called Bird Sleuth, we watched a series of videos dedicated to the skills of bird id and natural history. Outside, along Stinky Creek, we set up a few bird feeders to draw in common feeder birds, giving us the opportunity to put our new-found skills to test.

When the weather turned to warmer days, we initiated a series of field trips to offer the kids a chance to observe birds in different habitats while giving them ideas for developing their hypotheses, a crucial component of this program. We began at the Grayson County Recreation Park, moving on to the Matthews State Forest and Don Philen’s farm in Baywood. Our last field trips were held at the Cox’s Chapel Low Water Bridge.

As questions morphed into hypotheses, the students created a series of observable phenomena as presented:

  • There are more small birds than large birds (small and large defined by the study groups)
  • There are more birds found in a coniferous forest than a hardwood forest
  • The dimorphism displayed by birds of the same species is mostly explained by sex

On May 21, Greif and Kathy Davis held a presentation ceremony for their class, (while Absher’s class had previously conducted an internal review). What follows is a series of photos from the ceremony, in celebration of the student’s hard work. BRDC is appropriately grateful for the chance to work inside the public schools with such support at Absher, Greif and Davis have offered. We are also grateful to the kids who, regardless of their inherent interest in birds, go away with an experience that they will never forget.

And to top off the ceremony, as she did last year, Deb Greif made a bird cake!

And to top off the ceremony, as she did last year, Deb Greif made a bird cake!