Students at Strawberry Vale School have found that environmental concerns are all linked. (photo / submitted)

Environmental awareness takes wing at Strawberry Vale

Saanich students intent on bringing bluebirds back to park adjacent to school

Sometimes, all it seems to take to generate environmental awareness and concern is a walk in the woods.

At least that’s the way that Strawberry Vale elementary school teacher Kiersten Brookes tells it.

“Our project began in September with daily walks with another class to increase our fitness, our support for one another and to be aware of what is going on in our own neighbourhood,” said Brookes.

“It was about that time that, after looking at the birds in the area and doing some investigation we became aware of the extirpation of the native western bluebird to our area and heard about the rejuvenation of the population in Duncan B.C. We wondered if we could entice the western bluebirds to our local area again.”

Brookes explained that the students learned that one of the causes of the bluebird disappearance were sparrows. It seems that sparrows, an invasive species introduced to North America in the 19th century, tend to bully the native birds out of the area by taking over the nesting sites.

Intent upon bringing the bluebirds back, the students embarked on a project to construct 150 wooden bluebird houses for the park area adjacent to the school as well as for use in their own yards and the school grounds. They also committed to monitoring the bird houses to ensure that pesky sparrows didn’t move into the new nesting sites. When they discovered that vandalism of the houses became a problem, they moved into the education of the neighbourhood about the reasons for the bird houses and how important it was that the entire community help to protect the houses from destruction.

“After that, the blue bird house initiative got them to thinking about what bluebirds eat, and they discovered that some of the foods that bluebirds eat become unavailable when invasive plant species take over an area. That led us to an initiative where we started tackling some of the invasive plants in the Garry oak woodland surrounding the school,” said Brookes.

Several invasive species removals ensued and once, during the course of removing English ivy from an area, the classes even found a large black Hawthorne tree that had been so engulfed by the invasive plants that no one knew it was even there.

“It was a huge sense of accomplishment for the children to discover and rescue this amazing tree. We let it breathe again,” recalled Brookes.

The children’s environmental awareness has expanded throughout the school year and they have engaged in activities that range from the construction of bat houses (apparently bats are stressed due to lack of habitat as well), the placement of mason bee houses, raising meal-worms to attract the bluebirds and more.

“The students also decided that they needed to try to help bring the lizards, snakes, insects and plants that we are missing from our Garry oak habitat back. We need to try to rejuvenate this area to ensure species are not ousted from the competition in the neighbourhood surrounding them,” said Brooke.

“This has been a journey of discovery for the children. It’s also given them a sense of what childhood used to be like, having contact with nature … before we started spending so much of our lives looking at screens.”

Brooke took the opportunity to explain one final initiative in which the children took part.

“We changed the words to the old Beatles song ‘Blackbird’. Our version is ‘Bluebird’. The children figured that bluebirds are songbirds so maybe singing the song would attract them to our area,” said Brooke with a chuckle.

“It can’t hurt to try.”

 

The students at Strawberry Vale elementary school are intent on welcoming bluebirds back to the Garry oak eco-system. (Black Press photo)

Just Posted

Sooke municipal staff enters budget prep mode

All a matter of priorities, says mayor

Sooke mayor travels to Cambodia to empower women in politics

The trip is part of a Global Affairs Canada initiative

Overworked and understaffed: More than 300 vacancies in Vancouver Island nursing

Tentative deal with province includes ‘working short premium’ to encourage hiring

CRD committee proposes ending livestock payouts to farmers

The bylaw has existed since the creation of the CRD’s animal control service in 1979

Sooke approves new toilets for popular park

Whiffin Spit loos will have to wait

B.C. opioid crisis to get same world-renowned treatment approach as HIV/AIDS

A program that focuses on treatment as prevention will roll out Jan. 17

Olympian snowboarder Max Parrot diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Each year in Canada, approximately 900 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

‘Prince of Pot’ Marc Emery accused of sexual assault, harassment

Emery denied the allegations, but a Toronto woman says she is not the only one speaking out

Vancouver Island photographer makes National Geographic’s 2018 elite

Rare double honour for Marston from the 36 best Your Shots out of nearly 19,000 photos

Ex-Liberal candidate in Burnaby, B.C., says volunteer wrote controversial post

Karen Wang dropped out following online post singling out NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s ethnicity

Asteroids are smacking Earth twice as often as before

The team counted 29 craters that were no older than 290 million years

Canada’s arrest of Huawei exec an act of ‘backstabbing,’ Chinese ambassador says

China has called Canada’s arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou ‘politically motivated’

RCMP’s use of force in arrest of Island man not excessive, judge rules

Campbell River man high on cocaine led high speed chase through city’s downtown

LETTERS: Cyclist feels safe on the road

I am writing to thank the many drivers I have encountered riding… Continue reading

Most Read