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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

NEVADA FWO: Have a Phainopepla Day!

Region 8, June 1, 2012
Death Valley Academy students (from left to right) Diannet Lujano, Shayne Waters, and Kevin Cunningham video tape breeding phainopeplas in Shoshone, Calif.
Death Valley Academy students (from left to right) Diannet Lujano, Shayne Waters, and Kevin Cunningham video tape breeding phainopeplas in Shoshone, Calif. - Photo Credit: n/a

By Jeannie Stafford, Public Affairs

In 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Red Rock Audubon Society, and Shoshone Village sponsored a community outreach project called “Have a Phainopepla Day!” for students at the Death Valley Academy located in the town of Shoshone, Inyo County, California.

Students from fifth through twelfth grades participated in outdoor and indoor classes to learn about the life history of phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens), a common bird in their community during the winter and spring. Students not only learned about the species, but became familiar with basic birding, use of binoculars, and video cameras.

Kevin Cunningham, a ninth grader summarized his experience as follows: “This year we started a new project that was supposed to teach us about birds, but in particular about phainopepla. However ‘The Bird Project’, as everyone calls it, has changed into so much more for not only the kids but the people that have helped us with it. The project has been very fun, creative and informational. My film is about phainopepla love, and I hope that my movie will be able to show people their mating, eggs, and chicks. My favorite part of the project part is being able to identify birds by their sounds and by what they look like. I actually have shared some of my knowledge with my family and friends who are not in the bird project.”

A highlight for most students was helping biologists color band phainopepla. Students commented that they did not know learning could be so fun! The Service’s Connecting People with Nature Grant funded a professional bird bander and purchased necessary equipment to make this project a success.

Contact Info: Jeannie Stafford, 775-861-6300, jeannie_stafford@fws.gov