Klaserie River Sands

Learning about birds, one species at a time

Written by: Kristi Garland

Ever wondered how a bird’s sight works? How man has interacted with birds through the ages? What birds can tell us about the quality of an ecosystem? Or even, how we can use birds to explore chemistry? This is the mission of the Grasslands Environmental Education Programme (GEEP) – taking the science of birds and their habitats and putting it into a language that teachers are able to use in their classrooms.

 identifying birds

Mr Phuza from Thoriso Primary (Hoopstad) getting to grips with identifying birds

Kristi Garland has been working on BirdLife South Africa’s exciting new education project over the last 18 months. This has resulted in the development of The Avianator Project which takes teachers and learners on a journey through the world of birds. Through support materials and lessons, teachers are able to unlock our avian heritage and begin to make a difference in conserving and understanding birds and their habitats.

identifying migratory bird species

Annah Lenka and William Sekaleli from Tlongkganyeng Public School in Winburg identifying migratory species

The Avianator Project is currently running in 10 pilot schools and the change thus far in both the learners and teachers has been astounding. We have moved from just talking about birds to making a difference in each community.

an ecological pyramid for a wetland ecosytem

Virginia teachers working on an ecological pyramid for a wetland ecosytem

Learners have developed new skills and have been involved in citizen science programmes where the data they collect feeds into a larger conservation programme. This is where each learner is making the difference on the ground. The general sense of a global community has grown in leaps and bounds.


There is nothing better than seeing the sense of accomplishment and excitement on a child’s face when they are able to spot and identify a new bird. It is exciting to be making a difference in how a child sees and understands their world, exploring and experiencing what our country has to offer in both fauna and flora.

Tikwe Primary Bird Club

Tikwe Primary Bird Club (Virginia) using field guides for identification

Support Kristi and The Avianator Project by making Birdlife South Africa a beneficiary of your MyPlanet card.

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Africa Geographic