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Fourth- and fifth-graders in Minneapolis enjoy birdwatching — and BirdWatching magazine!

Burroughs Birding Club leader Amy Simso Dean with fourth-grade birders in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Burroughs Birding Club leader Amy Simso Dean with fourth-grade birders in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

We recently learned about a very special club — the Burroughs Birding Club, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. What makes it special? Its members are all fourth- and fifth-graders!

Since we’re always on the lookout for opportunities to partner with clubs, and since we especially like to encourage young birders, we were happy to furnish copies of the magazine and our 16-page Backyard Answer Guide, which contains answers to common questions about attracting and feeding hummingbirds, orioles, and other birds.

Backyard Answer Guide_165x257And we were even happier to receive the photos you see above and below, along with the following message, provided by local birder and club supporter Julie Brophy:

“This is awesome!” was the overwhelming response heard when students in the Burroughs Birding Club (BBC) in Minneapolis received their complimentary copies of BirdWatching magazine and the Backyard Answer Guide! The club members have been soaring with enthusiasm ever since, inspired by the content.

This after-school urban birding club at Burroughs Community School was fledged in spring 2015 by Amy Simso Dean, a longtime birder, volunteer at the Raptor Center, and parent of two kids in the club. It began as a six-week spring program meeting once per week, with 13 enthusiastic fifth-graders and one fourth-grader. This fall, with assistance from local birders Julie Brophy and Amber Burnette, the BBC spread it wings and grew to 26 kids and two weekly meetings, with more meetings already planned for winter.

Thanks to Burroughs Elementary, Minnesota River Valley Audubon Club, Eagle Optics, and a local Realtor, each BBC birder is supplied with binoculars, checklists, a field guide, and a notebook. And Simso Dean makes sure her flocks are having fun and “kicking tail” as they learn, with activities ranging from bird-ID competitions and owl-pellet dissections to build-a-bird art projects and Bird Bingo. It’s a bit of sidewalk science, citizen science, and fowl play all wrapped into one.

At a time when some city kids lack easy access to outdoor spaces, and others are spending more screen time than ever on smartphones and tablets, the Burroughs Birders are making important new connections. For them, it’s certainly about seeing birds, but it’s also about something more — they’re curious about what makes birds tick, and how the birds are doing. And each week, the more they look, the more they listen, the more they learn about how nature works.

As Simso Dean remarked, “We may not be able to change the world, but maybe we can inspire a few kids who can then change the world.” — Julie Brophy, Minneapolis

Fifth-grade members of the Burroughs Birding Club, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Fifth-grade members of the Burroughs Birding Club, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Thanks for writing, Julie! And thanks for the wonderful photos! — Chuck Hagner, Editor

15 resources for young birders.

Five reasons why birding is a cure-all for kids.

Tips for sparking an interest in birds among youngsters.

Read about the book “How to Raise a Wild Child,” by Scott D. Sampson.

How a walk in a burned forest turned a nine-year-old into a birder.

 

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