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Middle school science for wildlife

Posted by Kara T, Preston Middle School at May 25, 2013 11:30 PM |

I am Kara, a student at Preston Middle School in Fort Collins, Colorado. Last year, Mrs. Schmer selected her eighth period science class to install a guzzler (watering hole) in order to provide wildlife species with more water resources. This class later built bird boxes in order to provide cover for a variety of bird species. A pair of kestrels indeed found this as a source of cover. Kestrels actually do not build their own nests they usually find rock crevices or other natural formations to nest in, so bird boxes are a wonderful opportunity for kestrels. As we have worked on these projects we have noticed that the wildlife species we see on camera at our guzzlers and in our bird box all look healthy. You see full muscles, which shows that the individual animal is not starving and consuming regular amounts of water, this in itself shows we are making a difference in their habitat.

Middle school science for wildlife

Preston Middle School students work hard in the wilds of the Sylvan Dale Ranch to improve wildlife habitat and record the animals that visit the area.

I am Kara, a student at Preston Middle School in Fort Collins, Colorado. Each year Mrs. Schmer, a science teacher, selects one of her classes to partner with Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch, located in Loveland, Colorado. Each science class works with Mrs. Schmer, Mr. Neils, and the telementor program to improve the wildlife habitat around the ranch. There are several groups working on different projects to provide more resources, including water and cover, for numerous wildlife species.

Here's to the next generation of budding young scientists working for wildlife! Read about monitoring done here in Washington State by Conservation Northwest's Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project.

Last year, Mrs. Schmer selected her eighth period science class. Her eighth period science class installed a guzzler (watering hole) in order to provide wildlife species with more water resources. This class later built bird boxes in order to provide cover for a variety of bird species. A pair of kestrels indeed found this as a source of cover. Kestrels actually do not build their own nests they usually find rock crevices or other natural formations to nest in, so bird boxes are a wonderful opportunity for kestrels.

This year, Mrs. Schmer selected her seventh period science class, which I am a part of, and we are currently continuing to improve wildlife habitat. On December 1st, a group of sixth graders from my class installed yet another guzzler a few miles up Sulzer Gulch located near Sylvan Dale Ranch.

Coyotes visit the guzzler, installed by students, in Sulzer Gulch
Coyotes visit the guzzler, installed by students, in Sulzer Gulch

At both guzzlers combined, we have captured all kinds of camera footage that show fascinating and rarely seen wildlife species using the resources our seventh period class has provided. Just some of these species include mountain lions, bears, coyotes, bobcats, cottontail rabbits, red tailed hawk, robins, elk, deer, and turkey. The location of the two guzzlers is away from human activity, which allows these species to feel a bit more protected near the guzzlers.

We have also continued the idea of building and installing bird boxes up at Sylvan Dale, in order to provide more cover for bird species. These bird boxes are located near open plains, which provide hunting opportunities for several different bird species. In our current bird box we have a live webcam that allows us to see what is going on in the bird box whenever we wish.

So far we have had a male and female kestrel visit our box as well as a northern flicker and quite a few starlings. Although we do not want the starlings to visit our bird box because they have an instinct to take over a nest and lay their own eggs so that they do not have to care for their own young. In the second bird box our science class has built, we have seen photos of a screech owl using the bird box as temporary cover.

Students in my science class have also built some of our very own cameras so we can catch wildlife species in action. Recently, we have seen a robin in mid-flight on one of the cameras we built at the guzzler.

As we have worked on these projects we have noticed that the wildlife species we see on camera at our guzzlers and in our bird box all look healthy. You see full muscles, which shows that the individual animal is not starving and consuming regular amounts of water, this in itself shows we are making a difference in their habitat.

You also can see that there has been increased habitation in the area around Sylvan Dale by the average number of species that walk or fly past our cameras. In the science classes to come, we hope to continue providing more resources and cover to the wildlife habitat, to improve the lifestyle of the species affected.

I must acknowledge all of the teamwork and effort that has gone into making these ideas a reality, and the special bond our class has formed because of it.

See all the Preston Middle School videos on Vimeo       OffThePavement Vimeo

 

 

Slippery Rock Wildlife Traffic - February, 2013 from Preston Middle School on Vimeo

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