The Young Birders’ Network (YBN) is a pan-India platform for young birders to interact with one another, be guided by educators and connect with other birders too. We conducted the first Young Birders’ Workshop as our first step towards creating this hub for enthusiastic young birdwatchers to learn and grow.
The pilot took place in May-June 2021. Our aim was to help children between the ages of 11-16 years delve deeper into the world of birds, and start observing the other organisms that they share their spaces with. Since the workshop was designed in an online format, we received overwhelming interest from young birder applicants who participated from all over the country.
Over five weeks, we explored different themes related to birds, introducing a new theme each week. These were – nature journaling, habitat, migration, bird behaviour and citizen science. Participants were engaged with a combination of multimedia, guided interactions, lively discussions and activities via online sessions. The weekly sessions were facilitated online on consecutive Sundays, each accompanied by an illustrated activity sheet that not only recapped the learnings about the chosen theme, but also shared new activities they could pursue on their own.
The workshop was organised amidst the lockdown which gave children the opportunity to really get to know the environment around their own homes, that which they have always lived with but, perhaps never quite noticed. The workshop was designed to facilitate interactions within the larger group, as well as for our young birders to go on independent explorations of their immediate environment. In doing so, they uncovered little treasures and hidden stories from nature, all from their own neighbourhood!
The ‘Nature Journaling’ theme was introduced to help kids shift focus from merely bird identification, to also get acquainted with other living beings they see and hear around them. The ‘Habitat’ theme helped kids understand different habitats and how birds have adapted to survive them. The ‘Migration’ theme threw focus on and helped understand the exceptionally arduous journeys some birds undertake, how they prepare for it, the routes they navigate and more.
It was during the ‘Bird Behaviour’ week that children were encouraged to observe and compare different behaviours as well as find out why birds act in certain ways. Finally, we culminated with the ‘Citizen Science’ theme that helped kids make key connections such as how their love for birds or documentation while birdwatching can actually help answer bigger scientific questions and aid conservation.
In the spirit of YBN, the participants were encouraged to be inquisitive, focus on seeking answers through real-life experience and personal observations, be curious so as to grow and learn as a birder, and bird lover. In the own words of a parent of one of the participants of the Young Birders’ Workshop:
“She woke up early mornings on her own; was keen to go down (even if the rest of us slept in) for walks and journal her observations; the notes she made were her own and not copied from google; Even though the sessions were on Sunday mornings she never once wanted to miss it. Was truly refreshing to see initiative and interest from her without us having to prod even once – all this was very different from how school work happens. Thank you for all that you do!“Sita Vasudevan (parent of participant)
Here are some glimpses of the activity sheets and journal entries from the workshop, we do hope you enjoy going through them as much as we did!