One year the students in our school had developed a great interest in birds. All through the winter we worked at a mural depicting a winter scene in which were shown all the birds any of us had actually seen. And if you think the winter bird population is made up of only chickadees and blue jays, well, you didn’t go to our school.
So, when the first crow appeared in the spring, our interest was re-kindled and we certainly gained a wide appreciation of the birds.
One warm May morning the classroom was busy at our usual routine when to the delight of the pupils, a bird flew through the open window and circled the room. Immediately all work ceased, pencils and books were forgotten and everyone watched to see what the teacher would do.
I looked over the class of excited students. “Now let’s sit perfectly still so we don’t frighten him,” I said. By this time, the bird, completely ignoring the one open window, was trying to exit through a closed window. Surprisingly he allowed me to put my hand over him almost as thought he expected it.
As I held him out to show the children, I realized two things. First, he was a Chimney Swift and second, and much more exciting, he had a small metal band on one of his legs. After every child had seen the band and the older ones had made a note of the numbers on it, we said good-bye to our new friend at the open window, and away he flew.
I immediately assumed that the band was one of Jack Miner’s (he’s a famous birdwatcher and bird bander in these parts) and we wrote to him to report the bird’s appearance. No, replied Mr. Miner, he had not banded that bird, but he did forward our letter to Washington, to the U.S. Department of Wildlife.
In due time we received an answer. Our bird friend was indeed a Chimney Swift and had been banded in Nashville, Tennessee, the previous April, and we were thanked for our cooperation.
In those days, fifty years ago, this contact with any government department gave us a sudden sense of importance, and the incident was a lovely climax to our year’s study of birds. I am sure we all remember with delight the day the bird came to visit our class.
Grace Jacklin, Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada