Schoolyard Habitat Program

Connecticut Osprey Help Area Schoolchildren Learn About Long Island Sound

Monday, June 11, 2018 – Some say the harbinger of spring is the American Robin—with its sweet melodies promising us winter thaw and green to come. Although we hate to deny Connecticut’s state bird, Audubon Connecticut would argue that along the coast, there is nothing more ubiquitous in spring than the whistling call of an Osprey hovering over the water hunting for its next meal. Osprey is just one of the dozens of bird species that call the Long Island Sound home—and it’s received some extra attention this year by Connecticut schoolchildren!

Through Audubon Connecticut’s Schoolyard Habitat Program, students across New Haven and Fairfield Counties had an opportunity to participate in the 2018 Schoolyard to Sound Challenge to learn about Osprey and discover what they can do in their schoolyard to help protect the Sound. With generous funding provided by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Long Island Sound Futures Fund, Audubon launched this online challenge to enlist the help of students, their teachers, and their families to create a healthier Long Island Sound.

From March 5 through May 5, 2018, classrooms participated in the Challenge by monitoring Osprey nest cameras positioned on Osprey nests in New Haven, Greenwich, and Madison. Students made observations and completed a short monitoring form that asked for information about Osprey behavior and nesting material. Ten classes across grades 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 from nine schools from New Haven, Danbury, Greenwich, Stamford, Norwalk, and Meriden participated and submitted a collective total of 865 Osprey Nest Cam Monitoring forms, logging a grand total of 10,878 minutes (181 hours) of Osprey observations!

Families participated by taking a pledge for the environment, a promise to take action as a family to protect the places birds and people love. Families committed to do things such as plant native plants for wildlife, to throw waste in its proper container so it doesn’t end up in the Sound, and to conserve water by turning off the water while brushing their teeth. Thirty-two classes from pre-k to 6th grade in 13 schools from New Haven, Stamford, Norwalk, Danbury, Greenwich, and Meriden participated and a total of 226 students with their families made the pledge.

Classrooms with the most student participation in Osprey monitoring and taking the pledge for the environment were awarded class prizes (learn more about the 2018 Schoolyard to Sound Challenge winners below).

Audubon is thrilled with the outcome of the Challenge. Schools have an incredible opportunity to make a difference for birds and the Sound by starting right in their own schoolyard with a few simple acts. Through the Schoolyard Habitat Program, Audubon, together with our partners at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Common Ground High School, Urban Farm and Environmental Education Center, the Yale Peabody Museum, and other local partners have helped Connecticut schools create 12 acres of habitat in schoolyards by planting a collective 3,535 native plants since 2012. These habitats not only provide necessary habitat for migrating birds who have limited options for resting and refueling during their journeys through a busy metropolis, but also help filter runoff and pollutants from entering our waterways which eventually drain to Long Island Sound. And that’s good news for all of us!

To learn more about our Schoolyard Habitat Program, select here. For questions, contact Katie Blake, Audubon Connecticut Bird-Friendly Communities Manager, at kblake@audubon.org or 203-930-1385.

To learn more about Osprey, view the Audubon nest cams on Audubon Live! and join us at Osprey Open Day on Saturday, June 16 2018, from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. at Meigs Point Nature Center, Hammonasset State Park in Madison, Connecticut.

2018 Schoolyard to Sound Challenge Winners

Classroom Monitoring Grand Prize: Live Bird of Prey Show provided by Audubon Sharon, a set of books about raptors, and a barn owl discovery kit (a $500 value) awarded to Ms. Sousa’s 4th grade class at Barnard School in New Havenfor the highest number of Osprey Nest Cam Monitoring Forms submitted.

Classroom Pledge Grand Prize: A Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk voucher (for admission of one adult and one child) to each student in the class (a $1,350 total value) awarded to Mr. Moore’s 6th grade class at Broadview Middle School in Danbury—for the highest number of Schoolyard to Sound Pledge Forms submitted.

Classroom First Prize: A voucher for schoolyard habitat and/or outdoor classroom plants (a $350 value) awarded to Ms. Bentley’s 2nd grade class North Street School in Greenwich—for the second highest number of Schoolyard to Sound Pledge Forms submitted.

Classroom Second Prize: An educational tool kit for outdoor learning (a $175 value) awarded to Ms. Todisco’s 4th grade class at West Rock STREAM Academy in New Haven—for the second highest number of Osprey Nest Cam Monitoring Forms submitted.

Classroom Third Prize: An educational tool kit for outdoor learning (a $175 value) awarded to Ms. Balch’s 3rd grade class at Stillmeadow School in Stamford—for the third highest number of Osprey Nest Cam Monitoring Forms submitted.

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