In the fall of 2016 when we met with principal Steven Maldonado, we were delighted with his request to expand the Kids Birding Program! He wanted include not only the Gifted and Talented students but also the Young Scholars. This would bring our program to a total of 16 students and it would include students from all grades 1st through 8th. More than doubling the program from last year!
Then THANKS to Dow Chemical Company we had the funds to support the requested expansion! With funding received through the Seadrift Operations 2016 Dow Gives Community Grants Program which helps local nonprofit groups implement projects that will improve the quality of life for nearby residents, we were able to purchase the additional binoculars we needed for each student as well as a high powered spotting scope, tripod and travel projector. We are VERY GRATEFUL to Dow Chemical Company for selecting SABP and the Austwell-Tivoli Kids Birding Program as one of the recipients of this generous grant! Thank you for having faith in us and believing in our program! It is our aim to better the lives of our local community through promoting the skills learned through birding and instilling a love of our local environment.
The first field trip of the 2016-2017 school year was to Corpus Christi Hazel Bazemore Park for the annual migration of hawks. While we were past the peak of migration where literally thousands of hawks & other migrating species funnel through this region, students did get to see board-wing hawks, pelicans and vultures soaring high in the sky on their migratory path. This amazing spectacle is not easily viewed because the birds fly at high altitudes on their way to their wintering grounds in Central and South America. Hawk Watch International staff and volunteers provided a detailed lesson on the migration phenomenon and the scientific methods used annually to record and study the migrating birds. Other birds were viewed within the park including a Cooper’s Hawk, hummingbirds, waterfowl and shorebirds. Students departed with a sense of wonder and amazement and the desire to come back at peak migration next year.
Classes Provide Birding & Life Skills
During our program’s monthly birding classes at Austwell-Tivoli ISD, the students are not only taught how to identify birds but how to be a better birder & person. We stress collaboration and team work over competition. It’s not about being the first to get the answer. We ask students to described their observations, calling out the bird’s habitat, field marks, size, shape and behavior so the entire team can identify the bird accurately. As gifted and talented students they have a competitive edge. The birding program stresses the life skills of interpersonal relations and communication. Activities such as “Be the Flock” where a group of students demonstration bird flock behavior, provide opportunities for interaction and group decision making. Through the reflective process of drawing, as in our “Draw a Charlie Harper bird” activity, students learn the intricacies of a particular bird as well as providing an opportunity to express their creativity. Incorporating humor and silliness take the edge off the seriousness of their academics and hopefully instill an impression that birding is fun, so we incorporate a birding joke and or cartoon with each class. Birding is a hobby that can last a lifetime and it requires keen observation skills. The rewards are
November 2016 Field Trip: Victoria – Texas Zoo close encounter with native birds, Birding Riverside Park, and Museum of the Coastal Bend Flights of Fancy.
January 2017 Field Trip: Welder Wildlife Foundation
March 2017 Field Trip: Rockport Adventures, Whooping Crane Tour aboard the Skimmer
April 2017 Field Trip & GREAT TEXAS BIRDING CLASSIC: Clive Runnells Family Mad Island Marsh Preserve with the Smithsonian Migratory Birding Center bird banders.