Schools for birds: enhancing bird biodiversity in schools by engaging children in wildlife enhancement and monitoring

  • White, Rachel (PI)
  • Scott, Dawn, (CoI)
  • Eberstein, Katie, Sussex Wildlife Trust, (CoI)

Project Details

Description

“Bird Buddies” was a UK-based environmental education project designed for urban primary school children aged 7–10. 
The main goals of the project were to provide children with opportunities to experience nature first-hand, learn about and value local biodiversity, undertake wildlife monitoring, and show how they can make positive changes to their environment and attract wildlife. Birds are an ideal wildlife group to study in this capacity as they are easily seen, identified and can respond quickly to resource enhancement. 
For each participating class, the project comprised of a six-week bird-feeding and monitoring initiative within their school grounds. 
Firstly, a project introduction and engagement workshop was run per class, which included interactive hands-on activities focusing on bird identification and ecology. 
Secondly, two weeks of surveying without bird feeding was conducted followed by four weeks of surveying with bird feeding. All necessary bird feeding and surveying equipment were provided for the participating schools. A total of 220 children from eight primary schools in Brighton & Hove participated in the “Bird Buddies” project.

Key findings

Via pre- and post-project questionnaires, we found evidence for enhanced awareness of local biodiversity, alongside significant gains in both bird identification knowledge and attitudes, which were greatest for children with little prior exposure to nature.

Many children expressed a keenness to continue improving the environmental value of their school grounds and to apply elements of the project at home. Student project evaluation scores were consistently positive. Mirroring this, participating teachers endorsed the project as a positive learning experience for their students.

One year after the project, several schools were continuing to feed and watch birds. Collectively, the findings from this study highlight the multiple benefits that can be derived from engagement with a relatively short outdoor environmental activity. We therefore believe that such interventions, if repeated locally/longer term, could enhance children’s experience with nature in urban settings with combined positive environmental impact.
Short titleBird Buddies
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date14/03/1630/06/16

Funding

  • Sussex Ornithological Society