Answering the Call

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Did you know that by monitoring and observing the birds in your playground you can discover all sorts of amazing things about your environment?

Through monitoring local birdlife via the Birds in Backyards website students are able to collect data, analyse and interpret their observations and use the evidence collected to make management recommendations or educate and engage their local community about environmental issues.

Answering the Call

Our schools program ‘Listening to our birds and...Answering the Call’ is a whole school approach to sustainability, K – 6 Environmental Education Resource. Answering the Call uses a range of tools on the Birds in Backyards website to support student learning.

“Children who experience high levels of contact with nature are reported to have higher levels of self-worth and higher cognitive function”. Beyond Blue 2010

Kids of today are facing complex and challenging problems at a global scale including climate change, population growth and species extinction. They need a new skill set to be able to resolve and manage these often overwhelming challenges. The Australian National Curriculum will provide a framework for students and teachers to build programs around a suite of learning areas (see Figure below).

Figure of Sustainability Curriculum Framework Organisers –

Using birds as a focus can be a positive, enjoyable and tangible way of addressing these challenges. For example its easy to put out some water in a bird bath, plant habitat and collect data about birds within school grounds and these highly visible actions can be so empowering to many students, not to mention a great way for them to develop a passion for birdwatching.

One Principal in the program said “Ive taught sustainability for many years but it had no context, to use birds as the context makes absolute sense”. 

“I love using the outdoor classroom” – Teacher participating in the program.

About the Program – Information for Teachers

The Answering the Call program is a multi-faceted, learner-driven program. It includes a curriculum resource, teacher training, school excursions and in-school support (volunteers as mentors). The curriculum resource is a K-6 whole school approach and has the following key components to help students build the skills needed to tackle challenging issues such as climate change. It is supported with easy, achievable actions to empower the students to take action in response to their learning.

The key components of the program are illustrated in Figure 1. Beginning the program is easy. The first thing to do is to get outside and start monitoring birds in and around your school.  Students collect data and enter it via the Birds in Backyards Schoolyard Survey. Teachers and students receive training in bird identification, monitoring and features of the website (Guidelines for Creating Bird Habitat in Schools).

To help school communities interpret their observations students receive in-school support through our ‘Volunteers as Mentors” training. Local community members and bird watchers are trained to assist schools in spotting, understanding and creating habitat for local birdlife. Many schools choose to investigate bird behaviour and how that influences land-management rather than just species composition.

Thirdly students and teachers are provided with resources including Birds as Indicators Case Studies and Moral Dilemmas about birds and people. Schools are encouraged to support students to build a connection with the natural environment and to identify a ‘Special Place’ within or adjacent to their school. These emotional connections and reflective opportunities are complemented by classroom activities such as a ‘School Parliament’ where students learn how to participate in decision making within the community.

To register your interest or to participate in the program please contact the Birds in Backyards Program Manager - Holly Parsons: [email protected]

*We rely on the generous support of donors, sponsors, partners and grants to be able to deliver our education programs and resources around Australia. If you would like to support schools to engage in our programs please contact Birds Australia's Fundraising Manager, Paul Evans: [email protected] - (03) 9347 0757 ext 238.

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