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Eco-island: Sandy Mile activity 2

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Discover how to clean and save a seabird that has been affected by oil pollution in the sea.

Keystage 1

Curriculum links: Sc2 2e, 5b-c.

What to do: Oil spills dump tonnes of oil into the world’s seas every year and the oil is a huge danger to marine life. Thousands of seabirds die when they get oil on their feathers and so now, clean-up operations are put in place to try and save the seabirds.

The following activity will help children to experience what it would be like to try and save a seabird covered with oil. Warning – this can be a bit messy, so is best-suited for the outdoors!

Use some feather dusters to represent the birds. You may want to cut out foam beaks and some eyes and stick them onto the duster handles to make them seem more realistic!

Prepare the dusters by coating the feathers in some olive oil. Give the children some rubber or plastic gloves to handle the ‘birds’ and ask them to gently clean the oil off the feathers using a bowl of washing-up liquid and water. Point out that a gentle detergent must be used so that the bird’s skin is not further irritated. The birds must then be rinsed using a hose, ensuring that all traces of detergent are gone.

When clean, the birds need to ‘recover’ but must not be placed on a hard floor as they will develop pressure sores on their feet. Can the children suggest a springy flooring that might be suitable? Remind the children to be gentle and reassuring to the birds throughout the whole process as caring for wildlife takes a lot of patience and empathy.

Keystage 2

Curriculum links: Sc2 5a-c.

What to do: Oil spills dump tonnes of oil into the world’s seas every year and the oil is a huge danger to marine life. Thousands of seabirds die when they get oil on their feathers and so now, clean-up operations are put in place to try and save the seabirds.

The following activity will help children to experience what it would be like to try and save a seabird covered with oil. Warning – this can be a bit messy, so is best-suited for the outdoors!

Use some feather dusters to represent the birds. You may want to cut out foam beaks and some eyes and stick them onto the duster handles to make them seem more realistic!

Prepare the dusters by coating the feathers in some olive oil. Give the children some rubber or plastic gloves to handle the ‘birds’ and ask them to gently clean the oil off the feathers using a bowl of washing-up liquid and water. Point out that a gentle detergent must be used so that the bird’s skin is not further irritated. The birds must then be rinsed using a hose, ensuring that all traces of detergent are gone.

When clean, the birds need to ‘recover’ but must not be placed on a hard floor as they will develop pressure sores on their feet. Can the children suggest a springy flooring that might be suitable? Make a net-bottomed enclosure that you can place the birds in when they have been cleaned. What else do the children think the birds will need whilst they recuperate? Remind the children to be gentle and reassuring to the birds throughout the whole process, as caring for wildlife takes a lot of patience and empathy.

What do they think the long-term effects may be on the seabirds? Are they likely to survive? If their feathers are damaged will they still be waterproof and able to protect the bird from catching hypothermia, or will the seabirds no longer be suited to their own environment?

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