1/17/12 Inside the secret world of BLUEBIRDS

Jason Allen, of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, shows a bluebird house that includes a solar panel and camera system

Submitted photo   

Jason Allen, of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, shows a bluebird house that includes a solar panel and camera system to students at Altamahaw-Ossipee Elementary School.

Inside the secret world of BLUEBIRDS
Camera in birdhouse to serve as teaching tool
By Mike Wilder The Times-News 1/17/12     
Reprinted with permission.

   It’s fitting that in the era of reality shows, students at Altamahaw-Ossipee Elementary School will be getting an up-close look into the lives of a family.

   Instead of people, birds will be the subject of students’ interest. Last week, Jason Allen, of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, came to the school to install a bluebird house. The house includes a camera that will deliver a live feed of everything that goes on inside — from nest-building to feeding baby birds — into the school. A solar panel attached to the house will keep the camera going.

   “Whatever happens in there, they’ll be able to see it in the classroom,” Allen said.

   Principal Donna King said live action from the birdhouse is, for now, feeding into a screen in the school’s computer lab.

   “Once things get a little more exciting, we may feed it into the SmartBoard,” she said. Each classroom has one of the boards, which project information and allow teachers and students to use technology.

   An effort between the N.C.Wildlife Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made eight of the birdhouses available for different locations in the state, and Allen was able to get one for Altamahaw-Ossipee Elementary. He has a daughter, Bailey, in kindergarten there, and a cousin, Carmen White, who teaches technology at the school.

   Allen’s father-in-law, O.T. Bailey, is known for his expertise in building birdhouses. He went with Allen to the school and donated a book about bluebirds so students and teachers can learn more about them.

   The birdhouse is designed for bluebirds but may be occupied by another type of bird, depending on which creature finds it first and decides to build a nest there.

   An agreement between the school and the Wildlife Commission suggests ways for students in different grade levels to benefit from studying the birds. That includes study of the life-cycle including birth, development into an adult, and reproduction, along with how animals survive in a habitat such as the birdhouse.