Making a Difference for Birds
According to the 2016 State of the Birds Report, 37% of North American bird species are of high conservation concern and at risk of extinction without significant conservation action. Confronted with this alarming statistic, one possible reaction is to stick our heads in the sand and moan. Another is to ask, “What can we, as individuals and as educators, do to help?”
One approach is to empower youth with skills, knowledge, and tools to make a difference. Creating a positive change, even on a very local level, is vital for bird survival globally.
Together we can equip our students with the confidence and ability to take positive action, each in their own way, giving them a vital sense of hope in the midst of our rapidly changing world. Many great resources are available to help with this quest.
For middle school and younger students, our Habitat Connections curriculum provides activities that encourage students to think critically about local conservation issues, and to collaboratively develop projects to help birds in their own community. Examples include tree planting, shoreline cleanup, building bird boxes, and raising awareness through community education campaigns (see BirdSleuth’s Action Map for inspiration). Engaging in local environmental stewardship efforts such as these helps students see themselves as part of a larger force working to ensure healthy ecosystems now and into the future. Rather than scaring them with the problems birds face, such actions provide them with skills, hope, and realization of the positive roles they can play to make the world a better place.
For older grade levels, our award-winning Birds Without Borders book (available in our store) provides a series of investigations in which middle and high school students analyze and interpret spatial and quantitative data related to bird species diversity and conservation needs. They examine trends, make predictions, create management plans, and present and defend their results. The first and last investigations are available as free downloads. The final lesson engages students in designing a conservation plan focusing on a selected species or habitat based on Partners in Flight’s Saving Our Shared Birds report.
Everyone has a role to play in bird conservation. Each of us, at any age, can make a difference through actions we take in our everyday lives. Purchasing bird-friendly coffee, keeping cats indoors, planting native species, and entering bird data into eBird or another citizen science program are a few of the options. Collectively, we can help to ensure a future that continues to be enriched with diverse and abundant populations of birds.