Nearly 1,000  youngsters across Norfolk and Haldimand Counties will become junior citizen scientists this winter by joining Project FeederWatch, a Birds Canada research program to help study winter bird populations.

Thanks to extra funding from Nature Canada, the Long Point Biosphere Reserve (LPBR) is distributing FeederWatch kits to 50 elementary school classes in the Grand Erie District School Board. 

“Nature Canada has been supporting our efforts to connect young people with the natural environment through school groups tours for the past four years,” says Cynthia Brink, the LPBR’s Naturehood Outdoor Educator. “COVID-19 restrictions prevented tours last year so we’re grateful for this additional funding to get young people involved in Project FeederWatch.”

The kit includes a window feeder, bird seed, a bird identification poster and other supporting materials and a one-year membership with Birds Canada.  The LPBR was able to supplement the kits with a Junior Nature Journal from Nature Canada for recording observations and a sketch journal provided free of charge by the Bateman Foundation’s Sketch Across Canada project.

Working with their classroom teachers, students will learn to record and sketch their observations in the journal provided. In addition to recording the species of birds that visit the feeder and backyard, the students will make notes on the weather, season, behaviour, colour and songs of the different bird species.   This information will contribute to Birds Canada’s winter bird research.

The students may also try to sketch the birds they observe using drawing lessons provided on the Bateman Foundation’s website. https://batemanfoundation.org/digital-resources/

Karen Hammond of the Doerksen Country Store in Port Rowan was able to get a discount that allowed the LPBR to purchase and distribute 27 more bird feeders to youngsters in the Grand Erie Virtual Academy as well as another 58 for students of the Lloyd S. King Elementary School on the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation whose school remains closed due to COVID 19 protocols.

“Watching and learning about the birds visiting their backyards can provide a meaningful connection to nature especially now with the extra screen time young people are having to do with their school work at home,” says Brink. “ Birds connect our world, for some this generates natural curiosity to discover more about the natural world around them”.

Birds Canada organizes several similar programs such as the Schoolyard Bird Blitz, the Christmas Bird County for Kings and the Great Backyard Bird Count.  For more information on these programs, visit www.birdscanada.org.

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Naturehood is a program of the Long Point Biosphere Reserves funded by Nature Canada. The LPBR promotes research, monitoring, community outreach and education, partnerships, and proje

cts that support the goals of biodiversity, conservation, and sustainable communities in Norfolk County. We exchange information and work collaboratively with the Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association, as well as other biosphere reserves in Canada and around the world.

For more information, please contact Cynthia Brink at education@longpointbiosphere.com or (226) 567-0465

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