I love engaging the next generation of birdwatchers, and I recently had the opportunity to lead a third grade class at Indian Creek Elementary (a science and technology magnet school in Lawrence, Indiana) during their Birdathon competition. The kids were amazed at how many different types of birds we saw and heard during our hike. Their zest and excitement can be quite contagious, and this bird hike is always my favorite hike of the year.
During our hike there was one little girl who wanted me to see a bird she’d noticed fly up from the ground and perch in a tree. She was one of about 25 other kids vying for my attention…but she “really, really” wanted me to see the bird she was seeing, so she actually tugged on my vest to get my attention. I was glad she did, because her persistence allowed me to see the bird she saw, and that bird ends up being the Bird of the Month.
This month’s featured bird is the Swainson’s Thrush.
The Swainson’s Thrush belongs to a family of birds known as Brown Thrushes. They are fairly common during spring migration, but they typically pass through our area quickly, quietly and usually unnoticed by most folks because they tend to stay out of sight.
I wish they didn’t pass though so quietly, because they’re known, most notably, for their lovely song. These secretive birds sing a flutelike, upwardly spiraling melody.
I asked the kids when we returned to the classroom, “What is your favorite bird?” Many said “Eagles!”, “Hawks!”, “Red-birds!”, and “Blue-birds!” The little girl I mentioned earlier? She said to the class, “My favorite bird is the Swainson’s Thrush.” I think she’ll always remember the Swainson’s Thrush, and I think she’ll be a next generation birdwatcher!