Mini-grant Highlight: Santa Cruz Texmalaquilla
In the Mexican town of Santa Cruz Texmalaquilla, a community of around 1,000 inhabitants at an elevation of about 10,000 feet (~3100m) above sea level, the local elementary school enjoyed a Celebrate Birds Month through portions of May and June this year. Twenty-four members of the EcoClub participated in a series of activities designed to teach about birds and how to live more sustainably, and the roughly two-hundred students in the school all joined in for a bird art contest. Contestants had to draw a Mexican bird, and three winners in every grade (1-6) received a cloth drawstring backpack, the CUBs packet of bird posters and seeds, and colored pencils. The 1st prize winners in every class also received a bird feeder and seeds.
Over the course of Celebrate Birds Month, students learned about the parts of a bird by labeling a bird, filling in the bird-coloring pages of in a book of local birds, and creating birds from paper plates. Excited students learned how to identify birds, use binoculars, and use a bird guide as the group went out on the school grounds to find local birds and complete a 10-minute bird count. Nicole Gilbert, one of the event planners (who also provided us with these photos), told us that, “Having a day with amazing resources, information, and activities showing them the amazing bird life around them would be and mean a lot to the children and families of this town. I and Mexico’s National Institute of Astrophysics, Optics, and Electronics really want to open the eyes of the residence to the beauty around them.” Once the events were completed, she reported that “The kids in the EcoClub were so excited throughout all of the activities and are asking when we are going to go birding again!”
Activities also included creating bird feeders from plastic bottles, planting bird-friendly plants, and matching cards displaying different types of bird beaks with appropriate food items. Students were excited to be able to identify birds like local House Sparrows on their own from their guidebooks and record the data on their sheets, while learning about the benefits and joys of citizen science, and hopefully better appreciating the natural resources in their surrounding environment.