Students encouraged to help Cayman’s birds

John A Cumber Primary School students were recently presented with two books on birds and treated to talks and demonstrations on birdlife.

Presenting the books were Mr. Rudy Powery, a West Bayer and avid bird lover, and ornithologist and author Mrs. Patricia Bradley. Mrs. Bradley donated a signed copy of her book Birds of the Cayman Islands while Mr. Powery gave an encyclopaedic volume The Great Book of Birds.

Giving the whole school assembly a brief history of ‘one of God’s most beautiful creatures,’ Mr. Powery referred to biblical Noah’s Ark stories and the use of carrier pigeons during wartime. ‘Birds can do anything you and I can do – and more!’ he said. ‘They can walk, swim, dive, fly and even talk. They also play a very important role in the ecosystem, as well as being important to Cayman’s ecotourism.’

Mr. Powery announced that he intended to start a scholarship fund for a young Caymanian to study birds. Meanwhile, he encourages re-planting trees and protecting the mangroves in the interest of birds and other life.

Demonstrating how to make bird feeders ‘that don’t cost a penny’ and water holders from common household containers, Mr. Powery emphasised the importance of this simple activity by noting that only seven Grassquit birds were found in a bird count a few weeks ago.

Mrs. Bradley, who has studied birds locally for more than 20 years, told the students that more than 225 different types of birds have been sighted here, largely because the Cayman Islands has long been a stopping point for migratory birds. Referring to the hurricane, Mrs. Bradley said, ‘A terrible thing happened here last September. Birds drowned, they were blown away and many starved to death.’

Explaining that the surviving birds still need food, water and places to sit and nest, she too encouraged the children to set out containers of birdfeed and water, and to plant trees.

‘Birds are beautiful. They pollinate plants and flowers and eat insects. The next time you see a bird, think of how special they are,’ she said.

School Librarian Ms Ruth Baker Gardener said this was the second donation of books for the school term. She also noted that Reading Week is traditionally held in November, with customary book donations and readings by parents and community members, but there was no event last year due to the post-Ivan situation.

HOW TO:

Bird Feeder:

1. Take a used plastic juice bottle. Wash it out and let it dry. Fill it with bird seed.

2. Punch three holes around the sides, about two inches from the top.

3. Insert a circular plastic ring over the top to catch loose seeds.

4. Wrap wire around the bottle and hang upside down, allowing the birds to remove the feed as they wish.

Bird Waterer:

1. Take a cover from a laundry detergent bottle, wash and clean it, wrap stiff wire around the bottom and loop it as a hanger, leaving a piece at the end as a perch.

2. Place a mixture of dark brown sugar and water as a syrup in the outside chamber, place a few pebbles in the cover’s inside chamber and fill this chamber with water.

3. Hang on tree branches and refill regularly.

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