May 3rd – A Good Day For Teaching

Mia with her first banded bird - an American Goldfinch.

Mia with her first banded bird – an American Goldfinch.


In my experience, Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD) in children, is increasing at an alarming rate. Over the past couple of years we have been seeing a wide range of students, from Kindergarten up to university level, and I am absolutely flabbergasted by what they don’t know. Most students (of any age) do not know the most common birds. I remember holding a Black-capped Chickadee up to a class of 2nd and 3rd year Mac Biodiversity students and NONE of them could identify it as a chickadee. Just yesterday I displayed a male Red-winged Blackbird to a class of grade 7’s and the only attempt at identifying it was “Blue jay?” (although Mocking Jay has been making the rounds). My favourite though was the time I held up a brilliant male Baltimore Oriole and asked if anyone knew what it was. No one did but one girl (grade 8’s these were) I could see was working on it. Finally she said: “Is it a Blue Jay?” Now I’m not sure about the thought process that thinks a stunning black and orange bird might be a blue one….but there you have it. And don’t be fooled: this is common! And while some look interested in learning more, I would say that, on the whole, the majority aren’t all that interested beyond the immediate sensation of perhaps holding a bird and releasing it.
Mia's second species - a Song Sparrow.

Mia’s second species – a Song Sparrow.


So it was a pleasant surprise indeed today to have a student show up that knew a good number of birds and was also keen to learn more about them. Maybe it was genetic as her grandmother seemed almost as keen. And it was a great day for it as they were the only visitors and we had a steady but not overwhelming flow of good birds to learn on (22 banded; 19 retraps). So Mia was able to actually band 4 species.
Mia with a third banded species - Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

Mia with a third banded species – Ruby-crowned Kinglet.


From a birding perspective though it was pretty slow. Still not many migrants encountered. Firsts for the year were Yellow Warbler and Yellow-throated Vireo. And the Wood Thrush that showed up yesterday was joined by another. By the way, the Yellow Warbler was sporting a band – one of ours I suspect; back early to set up a territory in the river flats.
Grandmother Sharon with a lovely male American Goldfinch.

Grandmother Sharon with a lovely male American Goldfinch.


Banded 22:
4 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
2 Chipping Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow
1 Swamp Sparrow
5 White-throated Sparrows
5 Red-winged Blackbirds
1 Brown-headed Cowbird
7 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 41 spp.

Rick

1 thought on “May 3rd – A Good Day For Teaching

  1. That’s quite a depressing observation, but sadly, similar to what I come across with young people. The result of the teaching of science and nature being almost non existent in the Ontario elementary school system in recent decades.

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