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Outdoor Alternatives

Animals in Nature

Instead of bringing animals into the classroom, why not observe animals in their native environment? There are many ways to interact with animals and nature in ways that encourage students to grow in appreciation for animals.

You can join in one of the following organized nature programs, or just make one up for your own class.

Christmas Bird Count (December 14 to January 5)

From beginning birder to seasoned ornithologist, all are welcome to participate on any Christmas Bird Count (CBC). Participants must do their counting within a designated 15-mile CBC circle on the given count day. The Audubon Society sponsors this international bird count every year at this time, and is now into its second century. Last year there were 36 locations in Alberta represented. Observers 18 and under count for free, so this could be a good project to assign for the holiday break.

Great Backyard Bird Count (February 15 to 18)

The Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual 4-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are. Participants tally the number of individual birds of each species they see during their count period. They enter these numbers on the GBBC website.

As the count progresses, anyone with Internet access can explore what is being reported from their own towns or from anywhere in the world. Participants may also send in photographs of the birds they see for the GBBC photo contest. A selection of images is posted in the online photo gallery.

SEEDS Canadian Bird Challenge (April to June)

This activity is easy, fun and educational. Started in 1991, the Bird Challenge has been designed to involve teachers, students and parents in an enjoyable springtime event to better their understanding of their area’s bird species, habitats, and migration.

In April, May and June, your class or your entire school can participate in this exciting event in bird conservation and protection through a 48-hour bird count.

International Migratory Bird Day (April to May)

International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) celebrates and brings attention to one of the most important and spectacular events in the Americas – bird migration. Bird Day is celebrated in Canada, the United States, Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. Environment for the Americas (EFTA) develops many educational and promotional materials related to each year’s theme.

IMBD officially takes place on the second Saturday in May in Canada and the U.S., and in October in Mexico and more southern locations. Since this date doesn’t work well for all bird events and bird festival organizers, or for the migratory birds themselves, any day can be bird day. Now, IMBD is celebrated almost year-round.