Melbourne Birds in Schools End of Year Round Up

Congratulations to the wonderful schools, volunteers, and supporters that participated in the first Birds in Schools (BIS) program in Melbourne last year! With the commitment of 18 dedicated teachers and the support of their nine schools, BIS reached a total of 500 students in 22 groups from Grades 1 to 10. This is a huge achievement for all teachers, students, volunteers and supporters involved, and of course, for our urban birds!   
Our participating schools were: Coburg Primary School, Spotswood Primary School, Oak Park Primary School, Wyndham Christian College, Wooranna Park Primary School, Cornish College, Preston South Primary School, The Grange P-12 College and, Collingwood College. A big thank you to teachers: Tamara Camilleri, Tracey Kelly, John Hughes, James Mathews, Barbara Ward, Sam Millar, Niki Photopoulos, Teagan Snowling and Hannah Young, for their incredible efforts organising BIS at their schools! Every teacher involved was truly inspiring; fostering enthusiasm for learning about birds in their students; and, putting in an enormous amount of work to make BIS a success.
During the program, students learnt that while some birds are flourishing in urban areas, others are facing challenges due to the removal of important features that they require in their habitats, such as access to water sources, or old trees with hollows for nesting. They learnt that other species are struggling because of the lack of the important understory layer of vegetation, including shrubs, grasses and flowering plants that provide food and shelter, particularly for smaller native bird species. To address these concerns, following their lessons, each school participated in an action, carrying out the work of their action plan.
School actions included planting:
  • Locally native plant species from grasses and small flowering plants to attract insects and insect eating native bird species
  • Shrubs to increase habitat and provide shelter and nesting opportunities for small native bird species
  • Native trees to provide food sources and future nesting sites.
Students planted approximately 600 locally native plant species. Schools also built and installed nesting boxes for a range of species that rely on hollows for raising their young; provided bird baths to increase the availability of water for drinking and bathing; and, implemented student-to-student education about birds and habitat.
Thank you to our amazing skilled BirdLife volunteers, Bill Ramsay, Sally Heeps, Jacinta Humphrey, Cody McCormack and Melissa Brown! The contribution of our volunteers to BIS, as in all BirdLife work, is invaluable. These volunteers gave their time to support the program through sharing their expertise and assisting with the delivery of the school lessons; teaching students bird identification strategies; and, survey techniques during these focused lessons. Volunteers also assisted students in their planting efforts on the action days; installed nest boxes at school sites; and, attended the end of program excursions.
Local city councils were valuable supporters of BIS, offering expertise, in-kind support and donations of materials. School action days were successful due to the expertise and assistance from Moreland City Council’s Natural Resource Management Officer Vince Andreana, Hobsons Bay City Council’s Senior Conservation Ranger Andrew Webster, Wyndham City Council’s Environment Officer Rebecca Bond, and City of Greater Dandenong’s Environmental Engagement Officer Kirstine Oh, and Bushland Maintenance Officer Carmel Darcy. Moreland City Council provided a meeting space for the professional development session for teachers and volunteers, as well as donating plants, plant guards and stakes, and the use of tools for school action days. Wyndham City Council assisted to engage interested schools, and Hobsons Bay City Council and City of Greater Dandenong donated plants, plant guards and stakes, and provided tools for school action days.
We are also immensely thankful to Parks Victoria, for providing incredibly generous in-kind support by giving participating schools the opportunity to visit and participate in the schools program at Serendip Sanctuary. These events were held as an end of BIS celebration and chance for students to practice their bird identification skills. Parks Victoria Education Officer, Vanessa Wiggenraad and Community Engagement Officer, Ebonee Cook ran seven excursions for us to Serendip Sanctuary. Vanessa and Ebonee took students on the Wildlife Walk at the Sanctuary, and BirdLife facilitated bird watching and ponding activities for students to discover water invertebrates that many birds rely on for food. One school participated in a fun excursion to La Trobe Wildlife Sanctuary for a bird watching tour.
BIS is an education resource designed and delivered by BirdLife Australia in partnership with participating teachers and their schools. It is curriculum-aligned and engages teachers and students in the scientific process, through learning to and participating in identification and surveys of the birds and habitat of their school grounds. The ultimate objective of BIS is for teachers and students to develop and implement an action plan related to improving school biodiversity.
For more information email or visit our webpage.
Photo: Alexandra Johnson
 and   @birdsinbackyards
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