School programs wrapping up for the season
June is a month of transition at the Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory for both the birds and our staff. Spring migration has tapered off as the last of our migrant birds have arrived in the boreal forest, settled into their territories, and found mates for the summer. By the middle of the month, we can expect to see many birds either sitting on eggs in the nest or busily feeding freshly-hatched chicks in the forest. With the wrap up of the Spring Migration Monitoring program, our staff have started up the MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) program which is a continent-wide program aimed at studying breeding songbird populations in an effort to conserve their numbers and habitats. Our banders are also busy in the field conducting breeding bird surveys as part of a research project for Vanderwell Contractors Ltd.
The month of June is also a transition period for our education staff as well as they wrap up their school fieldtrips for the season soon and start thinking about new summer programs at the Boreal Centre for Bird Conservation. In typical springs, the bird observatory is a flurry of activity as we welcome hundreds of students to take part in banding lab tours and field trip programs. Since the pandemic has prevented students from visiting the bird observatory again this year, we decided to bring the banding lab to them instead! Students had the chance to be bird scientists as our educators brought a variety of artefacts, fun games, and bird banding materials to CJ Schurter School and set up outdoor stations in the schoolyard. We managed to see 100 students over two days and we had a blast talking all about our boreal birds! Actually being able to deliver in-person programming this spring has been a real treat for our educators. Our partner organization, the Lesser Slave Forest Education Society, also managed to deliver several adapted hands-on programs this spring as well. Instead of having students visit the boreal forest, we brought the forest to their school yard in the form of plants samples, animal artefacts, games, activities, and even real-live marsh monsters!
The pandemic has forced us to be creative and adapt many of our existing programs while creating new ways to engage students in nature programming throughout our region. We are proud of the different ways we have reached students and adults over the past few months, including webinars, scavenger hunts, videos, poster contests, and social media campaigns. We will continue to develop new and innovative activities, so stay tuned for some fun summer program
by Laura Brandon, Boreal Educator