Today I did a “career day” at a local elementary school, where I taught four different 2nd grade classes about my “career” in birding.
It was quite entertaining to tell a group of young children all about birds. The interactive bits were the best!
As I showed them a photo of a Ferruginous Hawk, I said, “What do you think this bird eats?” At least one person in all four classes said, “WORMS!” The thought of a two foot tall hawk spending all its energy on catching worms just makes me chuckle.
The photo I showed of a Yellow Warbler got an “awwww! Cute!” from every single class. I think that a Yellow Warbler is the epitome of cute, American bird. I think that anything small and yellow is bound to be a crowd pleaser.
In showing a photo of a male and female Western Bluebird, I got the comment “That one looks old.” Since Western Bluebirds are sexually dimorphic, with the females being much more drab than the males, I had a feeling that the young person thought that the grayish female was older. I asked him to clarify after he made his statement. “The one on the left has gray feathers! It must be older than the blue one.” After that, it was pretty entertaining to explain to the class that the male had blue feathers because he was more of a showoff than the more plain female.
I showed every class 5 birds (to keep it simple for 2nd graders): Sandhill Crane, Wood Duck, Yellow Warbler, Ferruginous Hawk, and Western Bluebird. I wanted to show them birds that stand out, that they could potentially see here in Utah. I asked every class what their favorite bird was. Despite the fact that everyone verbally reacted to the cuteness of the Yellow Warbler and Western Bluebird, every class picked the Ferruginous Hawk as their favorite bird!
It was a great experience to introduce children to birding. Some had paid attention to birds in their environment, and to some it seemed like it was a brand-new concept. I feel that it is important to teach young children to appreciate nature; if you instill a love for nature at a young age, it can last a lifetime.
I had a blast, and I hope all the second graders at Columbia Elementary enjoyed their morning just as much as I did.