Blackbirds go to school


The Holly Meadows Blackbird nest on the welly rack (Emma Baker).The breeding season is in full swing and some birds aren’t taking any chances when it comes to providing the best for their chicks. Parents will know the worry of getting their children into the school of their choice, but these determined Blackbirds have made sure they’re in the right catchment area by laying their eggs right next to the school’s door.

Emma Baker, an early years teacher at Holly Meadows Primary School, Norfolk, discovered the nest on top of the reception class’s welly rack.

She commented: “Our class has access to the outdoors every day, all day, so we were surprised that the Blackbird had chosen such a noisy, busy location to build her nest. We immediately sectioned off the area and spoke to the children about what we had found. She really doesn't seem bothered by the noise or the children's presence [and] we have loved watching her feed her babies. The dad is often seen feeding too.”

The children of Holly Meadows participate in Forest School, a scheme which encourages learning about the outdoors and in a natural environment, so even the youngest pupils understand the importance of wildlife and benefit from this opportunity.

Chris Calow, a RSPB Wildlife Advisor, said: “It’s lovely that a class of children have such first-hand experience right on their doorstep and hopefully it will help foster an interest for life.”

Emma also took the opportunity to teach her aptly named ‘Puffin Class’ about the birds and their young: “We showed them a YouTube video about nesting Blackbirds which really fuelled their interest and excitement. We were all very excited a few days later when four eggs appeared in the nest and then, later on, four little baby birds. We have all watched the nesting journey of this bird with fascination. The children have been so respectful of her, tiptoeing past the nest and playing away from the welly rack area.”

Although it’s now half term, Emma has been keeping an eye on the Blackbird family and reports that all are doing well. But this isn’t the first case of weird nesting behaviour. Chris added: “With the nesting season well and truly underway, we’re asking people to keep an eye out for nesting birds. Most like to nest in trees, shrubs, hedges and nestboxes but there have been reports of nest sites in some very unusual places so please be extra cautious at this time of the year.”

To give the chicks a head start in life the RSPB is encouraging people to leave out a fresh food and water in their outdoor space. To find out about how you can turn your garden into a haven for wildlife, visit www.rspb.org.uk.

(Photos by Emma Baker.)