Bird Conservation Through Education TM

October 1, 2015 

In This Issue
Bird by Bird Program
Birding Where the People Are
San Fran CA Fall Challenge
Billions To None Lessons
Education in Action
Thanks to our BEN Bulletin sponsors:

The Bird Education Network (BEN) was created following the February 2007 National Gathering, hosted by the Council for Environmental Education (CEE). BEN is a CEE initiative that seeks to connect and support a community of bird education professionals.


Over 4,000 individuals representing 300 organizations receive communications and engage in professional dialogue through the BEN-run Bird Education Listserv. 


A BEN Committee has been established to provide advice and guidance for this important initiative, to advance "bird conservation through education."

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Contact Sarah Livesay ( for more information.

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Birds, Kids and a Great Program in Idaho Schools
"Bird by Bird" Program
 by Deniz Aygen

How do we interest kids in the outdoors, teach them creatively, and impart a love of nature? And how do we encourage observational skills,improve attention spans, and encourage social interaction in youth? We teach them about birds!
Birding has many life-long benefits, which if learned at an early age, can instill respect for our natural resources that ultimately leads to a strong
 sense of place, stewardship of habitats, and dedication to wildlife heritage. Studying birds is also a great way for youth to learn how to observe, focus attention, and develop the intellectual curiosity needed for healthy physical, mental, and emotional development.

"Bird by Bird" is an Idaho-based program that teaches youth from preschool through high school about birds and their habitats. This program provides the opportunity for students to learn in outdoor environments about biology, ecology, and the complex interrelationships between wildlife, habitats, and humans. It has operated in Boise Valley schools for over seven years. Sponsored by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (Watchable Wildlife Program), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Wild Birds Unlimited- Boise, Land Trust of the Treasure Valley, Intermountain Bird Observatory - Boise State University, Golden Eagle Audubon Society, Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Studio M, this group of committed partners have developed a unique and very successful school birding program in Idaho.

Schools must apply for admission to the program, and usually, one classroom per school participates. Admission to the program is dependent upon funding, principal approval, and teacher innovation. Schools must commit to the full school year (September through June). Schools are provided bird-feeding equipment, optics, seed, and a great collection of bird books and field guides. Wild Birds Unlimited of Boise, the program's business partner, provides vital equipment at a significant discount as their contribution to engaging our community's youth in birding. Participating schools are also given native plants to enhance bird habitat on school grounds, which double as outdoor classrooms. The primary citizen scientists and caretakers of the birds are the students, who feed and water the birds, monitor bird behavior and document data by submitting their observations online on the Bird by Bird website. 
Partners fund and operate the entire program at no cost to the schools. Partners provide facilitation and all the needed equipment. Partners also help schools with field trip transportation, bird and nature walks, live bird visits, and other educational activities.

"Bird by Bird" facilitators are supplied by program sponsors. These facilitators have training in migratory bird and raptor biology, wildlife management, recreation, ecology, botany, education, business, and public affairs. These professionals bring real-life work experience to assist teachers and students. The facilitators work with teachers to develop appropriate curriculum and commit to monthly classroom visits for lesson presentations, in-class activities, field trip/birding/nature walks, live bird demonstrations, equipment training and special projects such as nest-box building, point-transect data collection, garden planting, and art projects. 
This program has demonstrated seven solid years of growth and stability. We have grown from four to 17 classrooms in Idaho, and in 2014 added a school in Portland, Oregon with assistance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Portland Audubon Society. We estimate that over 4,500 students have passed through "Bird by Bird" since its inception. Due to the commitment of partners, schools and parents, yearly participation is renewed with enthusiasm because of positive benefits to our youth, who will grow into the next generation of conservation leaders, wildlife stewards, and outdoor enthusiasts. 

Bird by Bird opens many students' eyes to the wonder of birds, which hopefully is a life-long lesson.
For more information, visit the Bird by BIrd website or contact Deniz Aygen.

Barriers in Bird Education Series;
Birding Where the People Are...
by Dave Magpiong

In our last installment, we discussed ways to start building basic awareness of birds.  Once their curiosity is piqued, people will start asking you questions about "their" backyard robins or asking you to identify a mystery bird. Reflecting their enthusiasm will encourage further exploration, likely leading from the backyard to the neighborhood and beyond. 
One of the great things about birding is that birds are virtually everywhere. Residents of suburbs, rural areas, and inner cities can equally enjoy searching for and watching birds. Given this fact, it makes sense to bring our birding walks to where the people reside. Besides, the birds are already there.  
Of course, we are not advocating the alienation your hard-core bird club members by totally ditching "hot spots." Rather, by adding a monthly urban or suburban park to our bird  walk roster, we can multiply, perhaps exponentially over time, the number of new people who will participate in these walks. With experienced birders leading the way, the newer participants will be able to witness, first hand, the diversity of birds that share THEIR living spaces.  A key point here is that urban landscapes can hold lots of great birds too.

The Los Angeles Audubon Society recently served up great model to "bring birding to the people" when they held their inaugural Bird LA Day last May. They hosted free walks, bird-sketching workshops, and other birding activities at two dozen different locations throughout Los Angeles county. Such a grandiose one-day event may be daunting prospect but the premise of this event is important. A sustained city-based campaign such as can be utilized as an important tool for urban bird outreach.  If we want more people to get involved with birding, we must to conduct more birding activities where greater numbers of people live.
One of the most important aspects of birding in these urban and suburban neighborhoods are all the teachable moments. From native landscaping to window strikes to outdoor cats to habitat degradation, almost every trip will provide valuable openings to go beyond "ooh, what a pretty bird" and get down to the serious business of promoting conservation of those birds.

San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory Annual California Fall Challenge
by Kristin Butler
The San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory is holding its annual California Fall Challenge (CFC) to raise money for programs that conserve birds and their habitats through science and outreach. The month of birding walks and contests goes from Sept. 12-Oct. 11. Here's how to get involved:
GUIDED TRIPS: SFBBO is offering 12 guided trips at locations around the Bay Area which include coastal and shorebirds, raptors, bird banding, bat banding, bird photography, geocaching for families, bird bingo, and more!

BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY CONTEST: Compete in the Click Off and share your best photos of birds that live in or migrate through California. Categories include "Birds and Their Habitats," "Birds and Humans," "Bird Behavior," and "Bird Portraits."

FUNDRAISING CONTEST: Compete for great prizes-like a North American birding tour with Wildside Nature Tours and an Andes Birding Tour in Ecuador with Tropical Birding-by raising money for bird conservation.
BIRD-A-THON TEAM: Start a team and compete for the Mewaldt Cup by counting the most species during your California birding Big Day.

OWL BRACELETS: ArtHouseUnited has designed a special bracelet for the 2015 CFC and will donate 50% of the proceeds from sales of the bracelets to SFBBO.

T-SHIRTS: Everyone who donates or registers for the CFC at $50 or greater is eligible to receive the 2015 CFC T-Shirt, which features the Western Burrowing Owl.
To participate in the 2015 California Fall Challenge, visit the SFBBO website or contact the outreach department.

From Billions to None
by Steve Ladd

The educational DVD of From Billions to None is now available for classroom and group use. The DVD includes the full chaptered film, Special Features, and a new 47- page Study Guide for middle and high school classes, correlated to curriculum standards.

The film presents the cautionary tale of the rapid extinction of America's once most abundant bird -- the passenger pigeon --  and explores its compelling lessons for today.
For more information, to view the trailer, or download the free study guide visit the  Video Project Website.

Education in Action
Photo Credit: Larry Ridenhour / BLM


The "Bird by Bird" effort in the Boise Valley of Idaho has over seven years of experience engaging local schools. In this photo, we see a girl restocking a tube feeder at her school's feeding station. Wild Birds Unlimited of Boise, the program's business partner, provides vital equipment at a significant discount  -  such as bird  feeders, seed for the entire school year, field guides, binoculars and cleaning supplies - as their contribution to engaging the community's youth in birding. 

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