Schooled in bird watching

An Olive backed Oriole feeds a grape to its young.

Birds in our World with Keith Ireland

When teaching in a one teacher school in the bush, designing programs for grades 1 to 8 as it was in those days, could be very challenging.

All the items on the Curriculum had to be covered just the same as a single class would be required to do in a large school.

I found that the children were very interested in which birds were in their locality so I started a Bird Club which slotted in well to a number of requirements and could be planned for younger children up to the seniors.

Our children became members of the Gould League of Bird Lovers which provided other ideas that we could incorporate.

At one time, as if on cue, an Olive backed Oriole started building in a high tree in the front corner of the school grounds. This caused great excitement for all the children who claimed ownership of the bird and kept a watch on its progress through the building stage, incubating time and best of all, when the babies hatched.

The children also brought their parents in and it became a topic of interest for the whole district.

Orioles feed on insects and fruit. We could only assume that one of the children may have dropped a grape or two when having lunch because, as the illustration shows, the parent bird has a grape in its beak to feed its young.

There are two Orioles in Australia, the Olive- backed which is found in our area and all round the north and east of the continent. The second variety is the Yellow Oriole which is mainly in northern Australia including Cape York in Queensland and a little way south.