Staff photo by Cole Dittmer
Wrightsville Beach School fifth graders Siena Carilli, from left, Tristan Gardner and Kirsten Jensen draw signs on Thursday, Feb. 20, that will be posted around the south end bird colony to warn beachgoers of the shorebird nesting areas.
To make sure beachgoers at the south end of Wrightsville Beach stay away from the bird colony designated by Audubon North Carolina, fifth graders at Wrightsville Beach School created posters to place around the colony.
On Thursday, Feb. 20, Wrightsville Beach School marine science teacher Cissie Brooks asked the group of fifth graders gathered in the school’s library about what the posters should say.
Quickly ideas like, “Save the birds with more than words,” “Nest in peace,” “Don’t mess with the nest” and “Warning, vicious birds,” came from the excited students.
Next, each student was given a piece of drawing paper and markers to begin creating a poster depicting the birds that call the south end home like least terns, common terns, black skimmers and American oystercatchers.
Of all the sample bird pictures available as models for the students, Elle Newkirk picked a fluffy baby bird to draw and included the message, “Don’t mess with the fluff.”
“I just picked him because he is so cute,” Newkirk said. “I have seen all of these adult birds but not the babies.”
At another table Abigail Richardson, Kirsten Jensen, Siena Carilli and Tristan Gardner were busy at work on their posters. Although Richardson and Gardner said they do not usually like to draw, Jensen said drawing is a favorite of hers but that drawing birds was a departure from her usual subject matter. However, all of the girls said they would be excited to see their artwork posted at the south end.
A group of four of the fifth grade boys was also excited to see its artwork posted but some, like Jackson Nakovich, opted to choose their birds based on reputation over cuteness.
“I picked this one because he attacks people,” Nakovich said of his drawing of a common tern, which has a reputation for becoming aggressive if its nest is disturbed.
Overseeing the drawing were volunteers from the Harbor Island Garden Club’s Rooty Rascals team, which partners with every fifth-grade class at Wrightsville Beach School.
Harbor Island Garden Club board member Eva Elmore said the club will provide half of the funding to have the 58 fifth-grade students’ signs made into posters and installed at the south end. Elmore said the drawings would hopefully be posted this season to replace the drawings made by the previous fifth-grade class.
Cissie Brooks said the fifth graders have been drawing the shorebird posters for a few years now, and she sometimes receives calls from other visiting teachers about the posted signs.
“It is a great idea and people always call to ask about the program, because they want to use it somewhere else,” Brooks said.
The staff of Audubon North Carolina will post the students’ signs along with rope barriers around the portion of the south end the birds choose to nest in this spring and summer season, and the postings will remain until around the end of August.