It may be the beginning of springtime in New England, but our favorite winter birds can still be found by students in New Haven, CT. For first graders at Conte West Hills Magnet School, urban winter birds have been the focus of winter lessons and a welcomed opportunity to get outdoors and spruce up their schoolyard habitat.
Throughout the winter, students have worked with refuge staff from Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge to learn about migratory birds and began identifying local species that can be found near their school. The students are now able to differentiate between which birds spend time in Connecticut year round versus which ones migrate in search of food and warmer climate.
The student’s favorite local species to identify included the cardinal, blue jay, and goldfinch because of their bright colors, but many also enjoyed learning about the Baltimore oriole and osprey that spend their summers in Connecticut. An “Aha!” moment for students was when they learned that birds are the only organisms with feathers, which they discovered through a fun adaptation guessing game.
While winter took its toll on the schoolyard habitat at Conte West Hills, students kept the birds and squirrels happy by creating seed ornaments to provide food throughout the season. Everyone worked together in small teams to help one another create fun shapes while also learning the importance of wildlife habitat for animals that need it to survive through the winter.
Next steps for these first graders will be a field trip to the local park where they hope to spot tufted titmice, white-breasted nuthatches, and woodpeckers! Additionally, students will be planting native plants at their school and creating more feeders for birds in the spring.