NATURE QUEST ACTIVITY
Birds are our most visible wild friends and no matter where you are, you’re sure to have brilliant birds to watch. From the ever-present Pied Crow and noisy Arrow-marked Babbler to majestic Eagles, you will find birds everywhere.
Find a comfy spot or take a slow, quiet walk and look around you – on the ground, in the trees, up to the sky. See what you can spot.
Have a brilliant birdwatch, show us how you got on and take another bold step towards completing your Nature Quest!
Did you know feathers are made of something called keratin – the same stuff as your fingernails!
Spotting birds is quite easy and all you really need is a sharp pair of eyes. However, if you’d like to take a closer look at the birds you will need:
- Bird ID guide e.g. Enjoy the Birds of Zimbabwe Booklet , Roberts’ Waterbirds of Zimbabwe Booklet,
Bird ID Applications e.g Apps for sale (Roberts’ Bird Application and Sasol Birds of Southern Africa) free apps (Merlin Bird ID by Cornell Lab)
- BirdLasser app
- Pen and a bird checklist to record birds seen and heard (click here to get a checklist)
- Elephant ears (see below!)
STEP BY STEP GUIDE
Head out into your school grounds or local green space (you’ll find different birds in different places but no matter where you go, please make sure you have permission to be there and that the spot you choose is safe).
Be still and be quiet – as exciting as it is to watch a White-browed Robin-chat bouncing around looking for ants and moths, you’ll get a better look if you’re really quiet! Look all around you, on the ground, in the trees and in the sky. Another good way to spot birds is with your ears! Yes, hearing where birds are and beginning to recognise their different calls and songs is a brilliant way to hone your birdwatching skills. Try elephant ears: cup your hands around your ears and turn your head like a satellite dish – you’ll be amazed how focussed and super-charged your hearing will become!
If you’d like to take a closer look, binoculars are a good idea but if you’re new to them you’ll need to be patient as they take some practice. However, once you begin to get the hang of them, they’re a great way to see a bird’s colouring and shape and help you identify what you’re looking at.
Sites in Harare where you could do this activity:
- Mukuvisi Woodlands
- Haka Park
- Monavale Vlei
- Lake Chivero
Sites in Bulawayo:
- Hillside dams
Sites in Mutare:
- Cecil Kop
There will be suitable areas wherever you are; ask your teacher for suggestions.
Find a Flock
You will need:
Sets of cards with the following bird names and pictures. You can use as many sets as you need to ensure each child has a card:
Blacksmith Lapwing – ‘klink klink klink’
Pied Crow – ‘kraah khrrr kraah khrrr’
Blue Waxbill – ‘sweep-sweep’
Cape Turtle Dove –‘Work harder, work harder, work harder’
Grey Go-away-bird – ‘go-away g’away’
Crested Barbet ‘tr-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r’
Dark-capped Bulbul – ‘quick-chop-toquick’
1. Show the cards illustrating and naming the chosen species and describe their songs or play a recording of them. Get the children to imitate these sounds.
2. Then give each of the children a card. They must keep the name a secret, but have to find the other children with the same cards by imitating the bird song or call loudly.
3. While ‘singing’ or ‘calling’, the children can move around until the various flocks come together.
Why not see what birds you can spot in your garden at home? Write down what the call sounds like and use an ID guide to try and identify it. You’ll get better with practice! As a school, as a small group friends or as an individual start noting down the birds you are seeing, take part in the Garden Bird Survey and record the different species of birds that you are seeing. Record the birds on BirdLasser or on a bird checklist and send the lists to Birdlife Zimbabwe.