Elizabeth van Mantgem
Arcata Elementary School
Arcata Elementary School’s Sunset Creek Schoolyard Habitat Project is an ongoing project to restore and enlarge a two-acre riparian woodland habitat adjacent to the school. Students, parents, and the Arcata community are working together to improve the streamside habitat of Sunset Creek by removing invasive plants and planting willows and other native tree species.
Plantings of native trees and shrubs in the riparian area are expected to make the habitat more attractive to warblers and other birds. Sequoia Park Zoo has awarded Arcata Elementary School with a conservation grant to start a citizen science program to monitor changes in the bird community in response to habitat restoration. Bird feeders will be placed in the restored habitat, and equipped with binoculars and field guides, and trained by local ornithologists to identify birds. Students will then count the numbers of birds visiting the feeders twice a month, from November to March. Data will be submitted to Project Feederwatch, a national database maintained by Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology that is used to track long term trends in bird distribution and abundance. This project will train the students of Arcata Elementary School to collect and analyze monitoring data, and provide them with a valuable opportunity to connect to nature.