So what type of project should you do?Remember, no two sites are the same, so each site will consist of different projects. Available resources, such as time, money, space, and labor, will also play a role in what projects are chosen. Last month’s article focused on bird feeders as an inexpensive and quick way to get your site up and running. This month we will look at a few more projects which can be completed at any time of the year and at very little expense.
Brush Piles or an Unkempt Mess?
Constructing brush piles is another low cost way of adding habitat to almost any site. Properly constructed brush piles are a great source of cover and protection for a myriad of wildlife species, including rabbits and songbirds. However, the line between a habitat project and a pile of yard waste is sometimes in the eye of the beholder. A little neighborly courtesy can go a long way toward preventing complaints. Before constructing brush piles, have the students write cards or letters to the neighbors explaining what you are doing, and how it will benefit local wildlife.
|Legget Street Elementary, Wauseon, OH|
When constructing a brush pile, begin by building a foundation by crisscrossing logs in a log cabin fashion. This frame will support limbs and branches which will provide protection from predators, and still maintain useful cavities for wildlife to hide in. If no logs are available, an artificial base can be constructed using cement blocks. Continue to add branches and limbs until the pile is 5-10 feet high. Brush piles will usually last 3 to 5 years, before they will need to be rebuilt.
Birds on a WirePerching wires are a great low cost project for your WILD School Site. They are cheap to construct, can be done at any time of the year, and provide a lot of learning opportunities for kids. Have you ever discovered an errant plant growing in an unexpected spot? Ever wonder how all those trees get started along fencerows? The answer: birds. Many species of plants have adapted a unique way to spread their seeds. They provide birds with a tasty fruit which contains seeds. Those seeds, however, cannot be digested by the bird. When the seeds pass through the birds, they get deposited in new locations, fertilizer included.
To construct a perching wire, simply stretch a cable or wire between posts that are around 10 feet apart. Sometimes old cable or wire can be found lying around and reused. Care should be taken to ensure that the cable is in an area where kids won’t unknowingly run into it. Another option is to place the wire high enough off the ground so kids can’t become entangled. Next, simply clear a strip of vegetation three feet wide underneath the length of the wire. A rototiller works great, but isn’t necessary. Have the students keep records on what species of birds they see on the wire. Then have them record what types of plants begin growing underneath the wire to learn what foods those birds prefer.
|Cloverleaf Elem. School, Lodi, Ohio|