Blue Ridge Discovery Center's Natural Heritage Program brings bird feeders and citizen science to Grayson County Public Schools for the month of November.
All fifth-grade classes in the GCPS system built bird feeders for their respective schools. Students were shown flash cards of potential bird species that might visit feeders in our area. This exercise gave them familiarity with our local winter (and some year-round) birds. The importance of proper seed choices and nutrient needs were also discussed.
Following this, students worked in groups to construct three different types of feeders that birds would be attracted to. The first was a platform feeder. This could be mounted on a post or hung from a tree or hook. The second was a suet feeder that would hold a cake of suet mixed with fruit and nuts. And lastly, a sock feeder that held thistle seeds. The students were instructed on proper placement of these feeders to both attract birds and provide them with safety and security.
At the completion of feeder building, we discussed how the students could participate in citizen science by signing up on the eBird website and recording data there. Each class can go online after observing their feeder for designated amounts of time and document the species and numbers of birds seen. This enhances the data collection process in a hands-on fashion that is both fun and informative.