What do you know about the Wood Thrush? Do you know this small bird has one of the most beautiful songs of any North American bird? Do you know how to imitate the Wood Thrush’s flute-like two note trill that sounds like a yodel? Do you know why the Wood Thrush is rapidly declining in numbers? Some very engaging students at Lucille M. Brown Middle School in the City of Richmond certainly do and they intend to involve us all in Saving the Wood Thrush.
Team Wood Thrush enables students to learn about the Wood Thrush and understand how this small bird can teach us about how human interactions impact our environment. LaTonya Waller, Virginia’s 2012 Teacher of the year and a 6th grade teacher at Lucille M. Brown Middle School tells us why involving her students in this effort is important:
“It is important that we understand what’s happening to this small little bird because it is an icon of what human interaction and human activities can do to the tiniest of creatures. By looking at how this bird is declining we can begin to see how we can improve our interaction with the environment. I want to make sure that my students are aware of what’s going on and know that they have the responsibility to be responsive. They should go home and talk about this to their families and in their communities and then ACT!”
As part of their studies, Lucille M. Brown Middle School students learned that 14 million Wood Thrush reside in the U.S. and their population is decreasing by 2 % each year. On a recent field trip to Dutch Gap at Henricus Historical Park the students explored the perfect habitat for the Wood Thrush and other birds.
Students went to the forest, the river, and the marshes to observe a variety of birds. Emma Banks, a member of Team Wood Thrush explains that “we wanted to look at the Wood Thrush and its natural habitat and talk about what’s causing its habitat to decline.” The rapid decline in numbers may be due in part to nest parasitism at the edges of fragmenting habitats and to acid rain's depletion of the Wood Thrush's invertebrate food source. Fragmented habitats also expose nests to predators such as raccons, jays, crows and domestic or feral cats.
Other members of Team Wood Thrush, Christopher Davis and Taylor Hill describe this special bird as a neo-tropical bird with brown spots down its chest. The Wood Thrush chirps loudly with a multi-note song– one of the only birds that can do that. They describe the sound as similar to yodeling. Click to hear the flute-clear “Eee-oh-lay, Eee-oh- lay” of the Wood Thrush.
Mary Elfner of the Virginia Audubon Council and a TogetherGreen Fellow, leads the efforts of Team Wood Thrush in our area and connects kids with Virginia’s Important Bird Areas.
“Team Wood Thrush gives middle school students, teachers and families a chance to learn about their environment by studying one of the most beautiful songsters in the bird world. The ethereal flute-like song and fascinating habits of this species help them to learn that there are things they can do to help the environment - there is something they can do about conservation. We are helping to engage a new generation! ”
Let's all listen and learn and help these young people make a difference. Tell us about your efforts to save the Wood Thrush by leaving a comment below.
If you would like more information or want to become a member of Team Wood Thrush go to www.teamwoodthrush.org.
For more information on the Wood Thrush and other birds visit the Audubon Society and the Virginia Audubon Society, Important Bird Areas of Virginia, and the Richmond Audubon Society.
To learn how to imitate bird songs check out Birdjam.