A daycare centre's Birds in Backyards project

To: 'COG Discussion List' <>
Subject: A daycare centre's Birds in Backyards project
From: Lia Battisson <>
Date: Thu, 24 Aug 2017 00:16:34 +0000

Get them while they’re young, good strategy. 


I held a stall for COG at the Scouts’ National Science Week event at Camp Cottermouth on Saturday and Sunday and met some kids who were very knowledgeable about birds.  Heartening to see that the some of the  younger generation are keen.  Hopefully they will join COG so that it will remain a vibrant organisation when we all fall off the perch!



From: David McDonald (personal) [
Sent: Thursday, 24 August 2017 9:35 AM
To: CanberraBirds <>
Subject: [canberrabirds] A daycare centre's Birds in Backyards project


Hi, a friend has her toddler in a Canberra daycare centre. The kids in his room are aged from six months to two years. Here is a recent report on their Birds in Backyards experiment.

This seems a wonderful intervention, I love the idea of getting the kids involved in citizen science from a very early age, and through it developing an appreciation of nature - especially birds.

FYI - David

-------- Forwarded Message --------

The daycare centre wrote:

Due to our extended interest in birds, the Earth Room has signed up for the 'Bird's in Backyards' program! We are taking part in easy experiments to collect data about the birds and their predators that visit our garden, and will be sending this data off to the program. This will be added to the database on birds living in suburban areas.


Our first experiment took place over a few days - to find out about what might be having an impact on the population of small birds in our area, the children assisted in building small nests out of coconut fiber and cotton wool, glued around a tennis ball. The children preferred to paste glue onto the balls more than they liked sticking on the fibers!  


While we were waiting for the nests to dry, we made various sized eggs from white clay. Julia rolled the eggs and Lachlan and Thomas squashed them again!  


On Friday, our nests and eggs were ready to go! As instructed by the Birds in Backyards program, we placed one nest of eggs in a bushy shrub low to the ground, and another on a high tree branch. We waved goodbye to our nests, and waited to see what might come and try to take the eggs from the nests. The program lets us know what markings on the eggs mean in terms of predators. 

The children helped to choose spaces in the garden for the nests, and happily waved goodbye to them when prompted by an educator. 


Creating our nests around balls, using glue, coconut fiber, feathers string, and fluff.




This project has allowed all of our children to not only deepen their understanding of nests - the process of  building our own, before placing them in suitable locations in the garden, involves the children in the experience of birds and other animals around them, and can help them to have a greater sense of empathy for others - but this long term project builds on our sense of community and helps to focus attention spans and memories. 

Our involvement in 'Birds in Backyards' links our children and families to the wider community - we are contributing to a state wide database that aims to improve conservation of the birds our children love so much! 

Making our own nests has allowed so many oppurtunities for learning - children have been able to build on their fine motor skills as we paste, stick and roll clay, exploration of the natural and processed materials that we see birds use when building their own nests - this can lead to hypothesising, experimenting and investigating - and allows for agency and independence, as children are allowed to come and go from the activities, and choose where they think the nests should go! 

Follow up

- Checking our nests next week to see what has come of our eggs! 

- Participating in more Birds in Backyards projects.

- We noticed all the children were very engaged in painting the glue onto the balls. A good way to follow up on this is to allow the children to paint other objects, like sticks or bricks, in our yard.

- Engaging with more natural and processed sensory materials.

- We would love families to participate in this easy project at home, to broaden the scope of the database across the Canberra region and to provide continuity for the children- the instruction sheet can be found below!



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