In a school in Hungary, the bell rings the start of a noisy week day. Like in many schools, the grounds fill with happy laughter, the bouncing of balls, children running and playing. But this spring a new noise rang through the air of the Ady Endre Primary in Gyál: the chirrrps and tseeps of House Martins on their arrival from Africa. Rather than distracting from studies, the children go outside in their lessons to see what it’s all about! They say there are at least 10 nests under the eaves of the school building, not too far from each other.
Art teacher Ms Viktória Szabó says: "The House Martins have kept busy ever since they arrived, lately by feeding their chicks. We’ve tried taking photos of them but it’s not an easy task because they fly really fast!”
Viktória is sharing her enthusiasm for nature with her classes through the Spring Alive programme, which this year has encouraged children to celebrate the return of swallows to their neighborhoods.
Spring Alive is a BirdLife International educational conservation initiative organised by OTOP (BirdLife in Poland) that encourages children to take action for the conservation of the migratory birds they learn about. Intimately associated with humans, swallows and martins are a species that anyone, almost anywhere can help with.
The 30 pupils of Viktória’s class have learnt loads about swallows and martins! Through music, literature, writing, and environmental studies, Class 3/a now knows about their migration, nesting and feeding habits.
"They've looked at pictures, listened to presentations, and created drawings and photographs for the Spring Alive competitions of the small colony living on the school grounds,” says Viktória.
They’ve become ‘House Martin Scientists’ and monitored the stages of nest building and chick development, using the material on the Spring Alive website and going outside to see the birds.
Despite all the noises of the school, it is clear the House Martins are not disturbed. Instead, these local birds are perhaps these children’s first window into nature conservation, or even an understanding that the birds they are seeing are shared with other children in Africa.
As the European season of Spring Alive has come to a close, the project will move with the migratory birds into Africa.
10 reasons for your child to celebrate spring with Spring Alive!
"Recognising the arrival of migratory birds also brings a broader understanding of nature,” says Karolina Kalinowska, Spring Alive coordinator. "Some bird migrations are so huge, they are almost beyond comprehension. For local children, Spring Alive brings an opportunity to think globally.”
Thinking back to when you were at school – wasn’t it great to go outside and explore? Thanks to Spring Alive these lucky children in Hungary got to do it as part of their lessons!