Manatee Bay Elementary’s Kestrel program started in October 2013 when 4th-grade student Rachel Supnick received a $1000 grant to help monitor the American Kestrel throughout the state of Florida. Students built 26 nest boxes and had them placed in parks across the state. Additionally, teacher Ms. Perez started a year-long Birding 101 course and her classes have since made bird feeders for students to observe in three microhabitats: near oak trees, in an open field, and by power lines. They also created a nest box with a web camera for monitoring new tenants.
Throughout the birding course, students have sharpened their observation skills and have seen all kinds of species, ranging from chickadees to ospreys! Classes have also sent their data to the University of Florida to aid their avian research projects. The course ends with a concert known as “Sonatas for Nature,” where the school raised funds to support the Sawgrass Nature Center and other community outreach programs.