Embrace the common – Plovers, Magpies, Ibis and Crows

When I list birds like ibis, crow, magpie and plover, most people would know what they all have in common – annoying habits and behaviours that irritate the community.  Ibis are smelly dump birds that hang out around our play areas. Crows disturb our slumber by waking us in the morning with a loud, menacing caawwww.  Magpies and plovers swoop us at any opportunity, even though we don’t want to eat their eggs for breakfast!

I can hardly blame people for disliking these birds at times but today I’m asking you, though it may be a big request, to embrace them instead.

When plovers decided that nesting in the car park of my child’s kindy last year was a great place to bring up a family, well, I wasn’t surprised. The teachers became very stressed about the safety of their families. They kept asking me how we could remove the birds and their eggs (they knew I was a Wildlife Education Officer).

When I suggested they leave them there and use it as a learning tool instead, they were quite shocked they hadn’t thought of it themselves.  The next week I came in to a kindy filled with displays and posters. The teachers told me that the children loved learning about the birds and were very excited because the chicks had hatched. They weren’t annoyed by the plovers anymore; imagine what those children learnt from embracing them instead!

Another example is when Miss Possum developed a nasty fear of birds because an enthusiastic ibis decided he wanted some of our healthy duck food. Although it was the ibis that caused the fear of all birds, we reduced the severity by looking closer at the ibis, noticing and discussing its good points. Miss Possum and I still talk about them today.

Had these common species been endangered and rarely seen, many of us instead would focus on their positive points. We would marvel at the maternal instincts shown by plovers and magpies. We may even be impressed by the crows resonating cawww (okay, perhaps not).  All these bird do, however have unique qualities and behaviours.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget the more common animals that adapt to our human lifestyle but they too need to be recognised as a good learning tool, a way to build a bond between animal and child. It’s sad but these birds are the ones that will be around the longest.

What are some ways you can embrace our common bird species?


Watch their behaviour  

What’s he doing? Why do you think he’s doing that?

Look closer

What colours are they? Why are they that colour? What kind of beaks and feet do they have? What’s another bird they could be closely related to?

Think more about why you are annoyed about their behaviour

Why do they swoop? What can I do to avoid them? How can I stop feeling annoyed by their behaviour?

Read, read, read

There’s always a lot of information on common species so  find fiction and nonfiction books at libraries, go online, talk to a ranger or  animal expert.

Bird craft activities

This website has some great bird craft activities. Most of them are crows but you could make similar activities using the different bird species.

Handprint crow craft activity and another crow activity here.

 I couldn’t find many kids activities related to plovers, ibis and magpies so here are some finger puppets I made  for you instead!

Click the picture to download

Have you seen any common bird species lately? Did you share the experience with your child?


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  1. says

    Embrace them I say!! What a wonderful opportunity for learning for your daughters kindy class :)

    We have magpies in the trees around our house and my girls tell me that they try to ‘sweep them’ rather than swoop them, haha! Too cute!

    • pawhitehouse says

      Thanks Janice! Yes, they really did learn a lot about birds through the activity.

      He he Sweep them. Funny! Remember that one for their 21st.

  2. says

    I was walking with my 2 and 4 yos through a park the other day, and plovers were swooping some other birds in their territory. My girls were chasing whatever poor bird decided to land on the ground. I got a wee case of the heeby jeebies because of a bad experience being swooped before, so I got them out of there asap – I didn’t really think to give them a lesson at the time! But it’s a great idea, so I’ll try to remember next time as I run for my life (kidding).

    • pawhitehouse says

      They really do come across as scarey, with that loud warning call and all. Perhaps, I should have reminded everyone to get to a safe location and THEN discuss the birds and why they swooped. :p

  3. says

    I love watching the maggies that congregate in our driveaway every morning and afternoon. The chat and squabble, and are very interesting. We also like feeding them bits of left over food, and that makes them quite like us a lot too.


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