Know your birds

The Nature Conservation Foundation has introduced a series of flash cards and a pocket guide on Indian bird species to get children interested in birding

Updated - November 16, 2015 08:31 pm IST

Published - November 16, 2015 05:11 pm IST - Bangalore

The book gives us a peek into the world of our feathered friends

The book gives us a peek into the world of our feathered friends

Can you identify the White throated Kingfisher or the Greater Coucal, or the Indian Robin for that matter? It’s time to start learning about India’s abundant bird species with your children through “What’s That Bird?”, a set of flashcards on birds of India, featuring about 40 common species.

Made for kids, the postcard-size, laminated cards are designed for rough use. They have a photo of the bird on one side and some information on the other, with pictorial representations and less text. The cards also come with a set of trivia questions, which form a game. Information includes where the bird is found, what its call sounds like, its behaviour, followed by a “fun facts” section.

The flashcards are only one of several projects at Early Bird, a learning programme on birds and nature designed and developed by the Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF), a non-profit trust that works in research and conservation of India’s natural heritage, and in education and public engagement. “Our motivation is to encourage and facilitate a deeper connection with nature, through birds”, says Garima Bhatia, project manager of Early Bird. They are targeting the six to 14 age group.

Initial funding for material development was provided by Wipro Applying Thought in Schools. “Urban children nowadays have access to a variety of fascinating information about wildlife, thanks to TV and the internet.

However much of this is focused on non-Indian species, and many children can identify a hummingbird but not a sunbird”, said Bhatia. “We wanted the child to get excited about Indian birds, and decided that a flashcards approach would work best, with high quality photographs combined with interesting information presented as a trivia game.” While it is important to facilitate a bond between a child and the nature around him/her, children are surrounded by distractions these days, feels Bhatia. “To compete for a child’s attention requires the production of equally attractive materials about nature,” she adds.

Early Bird also offers a foldable handy pocket guide to about 135 birds in the Western Ghats, and is putting together an “Early Bird Kit”, which will contain interactive lessons and tutorials with detailed manuals for educators and instructors.

The sessions will involve both indoor and outdoor activities, using the flashcards and pocket guide. The Kit will also include posters for classroom display, and electronic resources like videos and presentations about bird behaviour, which will be freely downloadable from the Early Bird website.

“While birdwatching and bird photography as popular hobbies have grown rapidly in the last decade, relatively little material exists for young children to learn about and get excited by birdwatching.”

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