Bird Ringing in Schools

Showing birds to children
Our RSPB local group are keen to inspire children about the natural world. 

Our pilot ‘schools project’ has pulled together a number of exciting and interactive topics and ideas for children that can easily be used by other local groups. It’s a great way to get lots of our volunteers involved.

  • We  installed nest box cameras in our four pilot schools.  We used some of crowd funding from our Wild Isles, ‘Brilliant Bird Boxes’ project to buy them. Blue Tits are already on camera, nest building.
  • Children have been excited to discover what Barn Owls eat by dissecting pellets in groups. Our volunteers work with groups helping to identify the bones and talking more widely about how we can help Owls.

BTO licensed bird ringers have been instrumental in our most recent topic. Our in-school ringing demonstration has enabled children to get up close and personal looking at birds in the hand.

Last week we had a great time ringing birds coming to the feeders at Broadheath Primary School Worcester. It was a chilly start to the day; but that didn’t dampen the children’s enthusiasm in fact they were fascinated!  

The children came out in groups year by year between 9 and 11.30. Each class was shown the different sizes of rings for different birds and how the rings are fitted. The children asked lots of questions about why we ring birds, how long they live and did it hurt the birds? We are very careful handling them and it doesn’t! It was fantastic for children to be so close to birds.

The children and teachers had kept the extra bird feeders topped up for a couple of weeks before the demonstration to encourage more birds; this worked a treat! We were mindful of peanut allergies which are an important consideration in schools. Sunflower hearts, mixtures of small seeds and peanut free fat blocks were used. 

We caught a great variety of birds; Greenfinches, Goldfinches, Dunnocks, Blackbirds, a House Sparrow, a Robin, Long-tailed Tits, Blue and Great Tits. The greatest excitement of all was a female Great Spotted Woodpecker.  She was a beauty and word soon got round the school with staff nipping out to see her. 

Some of the children were able to hold and release the ringed birds. Great Spotted Woodpeckers are a bit feisty but class teacher Mrs Jones did a great job holding and releasing it. Enjoy the video and listen to the children’s excitement as it flies off.

There will be lots of ways bird ringing can be included in the Curriculum and in the future I’m sure we will.  For now it’s more than enough just sharing the joy of seeing birds close up.

Many RSPB local groups will include licensed bird ringers. If yours doesn’t contact the BTO for the names of some local ringers. I’m sure they will want to help.

Safeguarding children is obviously very important for schools but teachers will help you understand this. Similarly teaching staff will do the risk assessment which will include hygiene, particularly for anyone handling birds.

Have a go. It’s great fun seeing children enjoying birds so close up. Please get in touch if we can help.

Stuart Brown

Worcester and Malvern Local Group