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Where shall I build my nest?

Clubs for Children

by Juliet Hawkins

Bird BingoChildren are often noisy - and my three are no different. They also love wildlife - including birds. To harness their enthusiasm and ensure that they learn something while they run about and make a noise outside, we decided to get them involved in an active wildlife club in which the children could meet others, have fun - and learn. With an environmentally friendly farm on our own doorstep, we started up our own Suffolk Wildlife Trust Watch group - and within two years of starting we now have 67 members aged 5-13 years old.

Our Watch group meets once a month to do fun things linked to learning about, and helping, wildlife. This month's tempting activity is 'Mating calls and babies - where shall I build my nest?' and through games and role-play will involve finding a mate, planning and building a 'nest' in a suitable site. A recent event was 'Staying alive - birds in winter' in which we made different types of bird feeders, wrote to each other in bird foot-print codes and played a running about game finding 'winter survival cards' (food, shelter, warmth and friends) and avoided the predators.

'Bird bonkers' in a local nature reserve, home-made 'Bird bingo' and 'Bird memory game', 'Kestrel capers' and 'Clues from poos' are all events that have helped children of all ages to really understand, identify and enjoy birds. My children are still noisy. However, there is no doubt that by starting them off young and happily in pursuit of birds, they soon quiet down when they spot a ghostly barn owl quarter over the meadow, see the kestrel hover, or discover a partridge sitting on eggs at the field edge.

For more information on membership of Wildlife Watch, and a local group, see the Wildlife Trust's website

Top right
- Home-made bird bingo helps children identify birds from lots of different angles. Simply cut out lots of bird pictures from bird food brochures and old magazines and paste them onto cards. (Photo: R Guyver)
Bottom left - Cracking bird foot-print codes to work out secret messages - a fun way to learn bird foot-prints! (Photo: R Guyver)

(Juliet Hawkins is a farm conservation consultant involved in conservation projects on her family-owned farm.)

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