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

Crash snarls traffic on Trans Canada at Tillicum

Southbound traffic on the Trans Canada Highway is at a crawl as… Continue reading

Marijuana to be legal in Canada Oct. 17: Trudeau

Prime Minister made the announcement during question period in the House of Commons

Saanich to study ‘mega mansions’ on farm land

District staff will study the siting of homes on agricultural lots

Rebirth of downtown cultural festival coming to Victoria in July

Folktoria aims to pick up where Folkfest left off

Plans rejigged for new Crystal Pool and Wellness Centre

Visitors to open house see plans for fitness facility, main pool with movable floor

VIDEO: Victoria immigrant centre’s refugee housing lands in Oak Bay

Partnership project officially announced for World Refugee Day

FIFA World Cup weekly roundup

Host nation Russia remains unbeaten in Group A, tied with Uruguay

POLL: Do you have a family doctor?

“I don’t have a family doctor,” is an all too familiar phrase… Continue reading

Scams separating Saanich residents from their money

Saanich Police warn residents of constantly evolving scams

Trudeau says he can’t imagine Trump damaging U.S. by imposing auto tariffs

New tariffs on Canadian autos entering the U.S. would amount to a self-inflicted wound on the U.S. economy

B.C. inmate gets 2 years in prison for assault on guard

Union rep said inmate sucker punched correctional officer, continued assault after officer fell

Temperature records broken across B.C., again

The first heat wave of the season went out with a bang across the province

Canada’s first national accessibility law tabled in Ottawa

The introduction of the Accessible Canada Act marked a key step towards greater inclusion

Police chief calls for mass casualty plan in Saskatchewan after Broncos crash

Former Saskatoon police chief Clive Weighill said the office was tasked with creating such a plan 13 years ago but none exists

Most Read