The kits contain materials such as books, examples of bird food, and objects that demonstrate the uses of bird beaks. The kits also contain stuffed bird toys that emit songs when pressed (complete with information sheets about each bird) and a binder full of educational material. Finally, there is a packet with student worksheets about birds.
Conservation Starters developed a plan to create and disseminate an urban education tool kit. We received a grant from the National Environmental Education Foundation to develop it. It will be used in Chicago schools to educate elementary school age, urban youth about birds. We chose birds because they are readily viewable in city ecosystems. Birds are the one bit of nature city children frequently see, and birds resonate with younger children.
Birds are everywhere in the city, whether near a park or not. They are an important part of a city eco-system. For example, Peregrine falcons were becoming extinct in the early 1970’s when the pesticide, DDT, was still in use, which weakened their eggs. They now are making a resurgence in cities because there is plenty of food in the form of pigeons and sparrows. They help keep those populations in check. With cleaner air, birds are more plentiful. Birds eat bugs, helping to control insect numbers. There is so much to learn about nature from learning about birds.