Children’s education programme finds inventive solutions to protect birds
Anyone who’s ever doubted the point of children’s nature education only has to look at Spring Alive. This year, we haven’t just helped to run fun activities – we’ve helped our community to restore habitats and share innovative new ideas to make the world safer for nature and people.
Spring Alive is a project organised by BirdLife International and sponsored in 2019 by HeidelbergCement, which aims to inspire and educate children across Africa and Eurasia about the wonders of nature and bird migration.
Bright colours. Friendly cartoon birds. Children’s drawings in crayons and poster paint. Fun facts, top tips, school trips. At first sight, you might be forgiven for thinking that Spring Alive, BirdLife’s children’s education programme, is nothing but a fun art and craft activity to entertain children on weekends and holidays. But looking back on our achievements as Spring Alive 2019 draws to a close, it’s clear that children have the power to make real change across the world.
Picture the scene: children are busy drawing brightly-coloured shapes of birds, cutting them out, and sticking them all over their school. You can’t get more arty than that, right? But even these colourful stickers have a practical function – preventing birds from colliding with windows. This year’s theme, ‘how can I make my windows bird-safe?’, sparked a movement that raised awareness and prevented hundreds, if not thousands, of bird fatalities across continents.
And then there’s our online community, which this year has proved that social media isn’t just for sharing cute cat videos or ranting about politics. This Autumn, our fun Facebook competition, “My Safe Windows”, invited the Spring Alive community to share some important and innovative tips on how to prevent birds from colliding with windows in their home. One of the best ideas was ‘bird strings’: a simple, effective and completely reversible alternative to stickers, perfect for people who can’t or don’t want to stick things to their window. [See instructions below].
Another competition winner showed that you can use something as simple and cost-effective as sticky dots from stationary shops to make your windows bird-safe.
And that’s just one of the ways Spring Alive has helped birds this migratory season. On October the 12th, Pupils from Noura School in Mauritania celebrated World migratory Bird Day by actively fighting plastic pollution. Together with Nature Mauritanie (BirdLife Partner), they took a trip to Nouakchott coast and urban wetlands, where they studied the local seabirds and then proceeded to clean up the entire beach – filling more than a dozen sacks with discarded plastic. In 2013, Mauritania banned single-use plastic bags to protect the country's wildlife and livestock, so practical education projects like these are an excellent way to make sure this legislation has a lasting impact.
In Albania, another city park clean-up yielded scores of sacks, and similar ventures made parks and beaches safer for nature and people across Europe and Africa.
It’s clear to see that initiatives as simple as competitions and activities have made a real difference. But even if children’s activities have no greater purpose than just having fun, they still teach children about the wonder and beauty of nature and inspire young minds with a passion that lasts a lifetime. And, as anyone who’s ever had to answer the persistent questions of an inquisitive child knows, this enthusiasm is hard to get rid of once it’s begun.
How to use ‘Bird Strings’:
Buy some rope or cord.
Cut one cord to the width of the window (horizontal), and the others to the length (vertical).
Make a loop at the top of each of the vertical cords (for example, by tying or gluing).
Thread the vertical cords onto the horizontal cord and secure the horizontal cord across your windows.
Adjust the vertical cords until they are spaced no more than ten centimetres apart.
How to use sticky dots:
Sticky dots are available from almost any stationary shop. Stick them to your windows in rows, no more than five centimetres apart. Bright colours are best, as they are more noticeable to birds.
Find out more at springalive.net