Minneapolis, MN, United States
Last spring my class wanted to build birdhouses to place on our school’s campus. Our school, Breck, is a PreK through 12th grade independent school located in Golden Valley, Minnesota. Golden Valley is a first-ring suburb of Minneapolis. Our school sits on 50 acres, which contain an experimental native prairie, wetlands, non-native grassy areas, ponds, small woods, and other areas of native plants. All third grade classes participate in FeederWatch each winter and other grades utilize our school grounds for science projects as well. Juniors do a research study of the Red-winged Blackbirds on our campus and a multi-grade group called The Breck Birders go birding there every Friday morning all summer long. They collect data about the birds they see and add it to eBird. Each year this group completes a science inquiry project based on the questions generated by their work during the summer and presents it at the U of MN in the winter.
Our class thought that if we could add birdhouses to various areas of our campus, it would benefit both the birds and the students at Breck. We thought students might be able to observe more species as they would be drawn to our campus if it offered everything they need – food, shelter, space, cover. The birdhouses might provide more cover, especially for nesting birds in the spring. It would be good for birds because they could easily find everything they need for survival. It would be a win-win.
Our class was full of ideas, but we could not actually build the birdhouses without some help. Mrs. Virginia Amundson is a seventh grade teacher at Breck whose husband is a master carpenter. She and I talked. She had always wanted to build birdhouses, too! We decided to work together. Mrs. Amundson and her husband brought in all the materials, tools, and even plans. Mr. Amundson was on hand to assist. We had parent volunteers, too. Her seventh graders and my third graders worked together and built eight birdhouses. We built houses for bluebirds, Wood Ducks, Purple Martins, Northern Cardinals, and American Robins. We gave them to the Building Superintendent to mount around our school. Three weeks later, just before school let out for the summer, my students and I walked down to a remote pond on our campus to check out one of our nest boxes. We saw a female wood duck sitting in it. That made us feel great! Out hard work had actually paid off, at least for that for that Wood Duck!