Parkview Elementary School third-graders gather for a photo with Plymouth Mayor Don Pohlman, Parkview teacher Heather Thompson, and Parkview Bird Club advisor John Roehre during an International Migratory Bird Day ceremony May 31. Photo by Angie Paape
Posted June 11, 2018
Students in Heather Thompson’s third-grade class at Parkview Elementary School spotted 35 different bird species on, over and from school grounds this spring.
The Parkview Bird Club met on Tuesdays from late April to late May with adviser John Roehre, a custodian at Parkview and an avid birder who shares his hobby with the students.
The students walked the perimeter of the grounds, which has 12 acres and a great mix of habitats, from neighboring houses with wooded lots and bird feeders to a corner nature center. They heard the scream of a red-tailed hawk and the bugle call of a sandhill crane.
“This is an interesting thing that not a lot of kids get the opportunity to do,” one student said. “It’s getting outside and really getting into nature a little more.”
Initially, students always are most taken with common birds such as English sparrows and bluejays, but as the weeks go by Mr. Roehre says he's always impressed by how much they learn.
For his part, Mr. Roehre was excited to see an Eastern Meadowlark and a Yellow Warbler. Even though April was the coldest in Wisconsin history, the sunny days with temperatures in the 60s and 70s were good for birding.
Students said they enjoy having “time to spend with your friends and discover cool birds.” Another liked “seeing many different kinds of birds, hearing the beautiful songs, seeing the beautiful different colors. Birds and nature make me happy.”
Shelly Taylor, Parkview library media specialist, found an excellent bird guide app from The Cornell Lab called Merlin onto iPad Touches, so that students could look up what they just saw or heard in the field. Students also visited the Mesmerizing Migration Map website, which uses colored dots to mark the migration of 118 species of birds from South America through North America.
Each year a club member receives a Wisconsin Bird Guide book; this year’s recipient was Malaya Seifert. Each student in the class also receives a Bird Club summary.
The club also hosted a ceremony May 31 for the annual reading of an International Migratory Bird Resolution by Plymouth Mayor Don Pohlman, part of the city’s designation as a Bird City USA. Angie Paape from the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce also was present.
Mr. Roehre hopes the club will leave the students appreciating the diversity of bird life available in the city and on such a relatively small parcel of land.
“The third grade is a wonderful group to bird with,” he said. “They pay attention and want to know what they are hearing and seeing. I like that they are tuned into nature. Hopefully, the club will inspire them to be careful with our fragile planet, knowing such a variety of life depends on them.”
• Mesmerizing Migration Map website