This week I was privileged enough to volunteer at Billingsville Elementary School in the inner city of Charlotte, NC. I taught the grade schoolers about the birds that came to their feeders that were set up by their teacher. We also talked about the 3 basics to identifying birds: size, shape, and plumage coloration. Most of the students were very interested. They were able to identify many of the feeder birds and had located a hornet's nest in a crabapple tree in the courtyard. One of the students explained to the class the birdlife of his home country Guatemala, mentioning the Resplendent Quetzal, featured on the national flag, and the Horned Guan, a near-endemic often sought after by birders in Guatemala:
I was impressed with all the students. Thanks to volunteers and teachers, they were learning to observe and enjoy birds, and set out feeders at home and look for birds as alternatives to watching TV and playing digital games. I believe this shows that anyone can be interested in birding, and be a successful observer. Activities such as birding allow these troubled youth to divert their thoughts from domestic issues including violence, hunger, etc. and focus on other hobbies.
If you have any opportunities to volunteer at schools in the urban core, please take advantage. These kids need an opportunity to discover new activities and broaden their horizons.
Also, stay tuned for the first field trip announcement!