This project was created by students (9-12 years of age) and teachers from Primary School "Stiv Naumov" - Bitola, Macedonia in collaboration with Macedonian Association for Owls protection and National Park "Pelister" - Bitola. The project was supported by the parents of the students and we are very grateful at them.
Goal and Objectives:
Goal: To raise and strengthen the awareness for the danger of extermination of the owls.
- Students to learn about owls' anatomy and their life cycle.
- Students to gain knowledge owls' diet as natural pesticide.
- Students to learn the possible ways "how to protect the owls."
In the first phase the students were doing an inquiry for owls in Macedonia and the owls in Finland. The results from this inquiry were crafting of posters for the 9 species of owls in Macedonia and on these posters were presented specific information on every species of owls illustrated on the pictures below.
Creation of Memory game" Owls in Finland", made from recycled paper with owl pictures from Finland. The pictures were handcrafted by the students showed in the pictures below.
Workshop for crafting the Memory Game
At StarT Fair was presented a theater play “Meeting with the owls”, played the students from 4. grade. Below is presented the drama text translated in English language.
“Meeting with the owls”
Composed by: 6 grade students
mentor: Ana Dinkovska – Bozhinovska
mentor: Dijana Hristovska
(Forest. Night. Sounds and moaning can be heard. There is an owl on a branch)
Owl 1: Help, help! Ah, my wing hurts. I can’t fly.
Owl 2: what do I hear over there? Is there someone there?
Owl 1: Uh, Uh… Owl, where are you? Help!
Owl 2: Oh, awful! Who’s screaming? Who’s there? Come out!
Owl 1: I’m here, my friend. Help! I’m your friend Utko.
Owl 2: Utko!? Where are you?
Owl 1: Here, down on the ground. Help me fly.
Owl 2: Now my friend, I’m coming. (Flies down on the ground and it sees his friend. He’s trying to lift him up). My friend, what has happened with you?
Owl 1: I was looking for food. For a long, long time… I entangled myself in the fence of a house in the town. I hurt my wing. I flew somehow. But, I couldn’t make it anymore. I fell down here. It’s good that you came.
Owl 2: Let me see. You have hurt yourself badly. Come on, I’ll help you. We’ll fly off together and we’ll find food.
Owl 1: Thank you.
(They fly off on a branch)
Owl 2: Let’s get back home.
Owl 1: Come on, let’s go back.
(They fly off and get to a demolished nest on a roof of a house)
Owl 1: It’s gone. My nest is demolished! What am I going to do now?
Owl 2: Sad. They demolished my home, too. I also don’t have where to go.
Owl 1: Let’s get back to the forest.
Owl 2: Let’s get back. We’ll look for a new home there.
Owl 1: There is a belief between the people, that if an owl stands on your house or it sings, it will be a tragedy in the house. We, the owls, live on the roofs of the houses, buildings, barns, and that enables the people to have easy access, so they can ruin our nests. That is why we get homeless.
Owl 2: And if they see the situation, without that belief, the people will get to know that we, the owls, clean and protect them from rats, lizards, snakes and insects. By now, we have never harmed the humans. We are tempera mental, brave and beautiful birds.
Owl 1: Let’s do something. We must introduce the people with the danger that they may face if we, the owls, not exist.
Owl 2: There are 212 types of owls in the World. On the territory of Macedonia, there are 9 types of owls that live here… and they are: Long-eared owl (Asio otus), Tawny or Brown Owl (Strix aluco), Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus), Barn owl (Tyto alba), Ural Owl ( Strix uralensis), Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo), Little Owl ( Athene Noctua), Boreal owl (Aegolius funareus), Eurasian scops owl (Otus scops). I am Eurasian scops owl, with dimension of 16 – 18 cm. I’m the smallest owl in Macedonia. I am a visitant – I come and go together with the swallow-dives.
Owl 1: I’m your brother – Long-eared owl, with dimension of 70 cm and wingspan of about 2 meters, the biggest owl residing on our territory.
Owl 1: We, the owls, must speak out. Let’s introduce the people with the owls and our problems.
Owl 2: Let’s look for our brothers and sisters in the forest. Let’s hear what they have to say.
(Two little children, a girl and a boy are playing in the forest. They collect leaves and forest fruits)
The boy: Little sister, we’ve lost our way.
The girl: How are we going to get back home? It’s dark. I’m scared.
The boy: don’t be scared. I’m sure our parents are looking for us. Soon they’ll find us.
Owl 1: Who are you? What are you doing here?
The boy: We got lost. We are looking for the way to our home. I’m sure our parents are worried.
Owl 2: Don’t be afraid. We’ll help you. We’ll use our keen sight and we’ll show you the path through the forest.
Owl 1: (Talks to the rest of the owls): Dear brothers and sisters. Let’s help these two children get back home.
The owls in one voice: Let’s help them.
The girl: How beautiful birds. I haven’t seen such until now. What kind of birds are you?
Owl 3: We are owls, the most useful birds in the world.
Owl 4: We are known as birds of prey, and that means we are made to hunt and eat little animals.
Owl 5: we can’t move our eyes, but we can move our heads for 270º.
Owl 6: We have feather ears on our heads, which don’t have any role in hearing. The female owls can be differed by the feather ears, on which the feathers are faced down. And the male owls have the feathers facing upwards.
Owl 7: Our real ears are hidden under the feathers on our necks. We have very sharp hearing that enables us to locate all the animals and big insects that we eat even when they are far.
Owl 8: We eat mice, rats, bats, moles, rabbits, hedgehogs, snakes, frogs etc. Some of us hunt fishes.
Owl 9: We fly soundless and that is why we can easily get close to the captivity without it hearing us. Generally we fly and hunt at night.
Owl 10: The color of our feathers depends on the place of living: the owls living in the desert often have feathers with sand color, those living in the snow places, like our relatives in Finland, are white, and the owls in the forests are brown.
Owl 11: By the eye color you can tell when the owl hunts. The owls with yellow eyes generally hunt during the day, the owls with brown eyes hunt in total dark, and the owls with orange eyes hunt in the evenings and daybreaks.
Owl 12: We usually swallow the whole food, and when we process it, after 8 hours we spit out the bones and the other parts from the animal or the insect that we ate.
Owl 13: We don’t know how to build nests on our own, so we lay our eggs either in other nests or in the cavity of the trees or on the ground. The female owl lays the eggs about 30 days. When the little owls hatch, both parents are bringing them food. After 2 – 3 months the little owls start to hunt food by themselves and start to live on their own.
The girl: And, what is it that makes you, the owls that useful birds on the planet, what is the benefit for us and what is the kind of the relation between us, people and owls?
Owl 14: that is the captivity that we, the owls, hunt. In 90% of our food, we eat different kinds of rodents, but to make it more clearly, we’ll refer to the statistics: During the night, an owl can hunt from 3 to 5 rodents (field mouse, mice, rats, moles etc.). During a year, one owl family, will hunt about 10,000 rodents.
Owl 15: It is known, that a mouse eats about 5 kg of forage a year. And if we continue with numbers we’ll get to real information that with our existence we’ll save the farming and agronomy millions and millions. And, if we take into account that the rodents are the reason for fast transmission of severe infectious diseases and that the urine that they leave on the farming food and crops contains bacteria and infections, which come to the human organism through the food, then you, the humans will understand that we are directly saving your health and we protect you from infections and infectious diseases. We save great amount of farming food for the farmers and agronomists, and with that we are saving food that you, the people consume.
Owl 16: Using pesticides and poisons for the rodents by the people, is not a good solution for us, the owls, but also is not good for you, too. The effect from the poisons for the rodents is only for a short time, and you take the poison directly into your organism. That only means that we, the owls are made to be natural pesticides for you and to directly protect your health.
Owl 17: Unluckily, we, the owls are endangered kind. We are only a little left.
The boy: But, how?! Why did that happen?
Owl 18: Because of the use of poison for destroying the rodents and the aggressive and uncontrolled rat - catching implemented in our country in the last 7 – 8 years, the population of the Macedonian owls is reduced for 70%! Because of the food with poisoned rodents, our number is reduced and we are before extermination.
The girl: It turns out that your biggest enemy is the human.
Owl 19: Yes, the human, who constantly wins the nature, cuts the forest, asphalts roads, pollutes the earth, throws poisons to destroy the rodents and the insects, and doesn’t know much about the owls – actually, the human doesn’t know anything about us, the owls. During the day we are unnoticeable… but at night, when the humans sleep… we live. And, because the human doesn’t see us, he doesn’t know us… the human makes up stories that we are bad birds and that we are harbingers of death. These beliefs provoked to lower the number of the owls, and in many parts of our country, they pursue and kill us.
Owl 20: Even though, we are protected with the highest degree of protection by the Law on Hunting of republic of Macedonia, our survival is endangered.
The boy: I can see light. There is our house. It’s shines in the far. We found the way. We’ll be home soon.
The girl: (Jumping in joy) Thank you owls, my little friends.
The boy: If it wasn’t you, we weren’t going to find the way home. I’m sure our parents are already looking for us. I’m sure they are afraid for us. But we’ll soon hug them and tell them about our new friends from the forest. Thank you!
The girl: (Talks to the owls) You are our new friends! You helped us a lot! Without you we wouldn’t find our way home!
Owl 2: We split here. You can continue on your own. We mustn’t leave the forest. There are lots of dangers for us out there.
Owl 1: Thank you for listening to our story.
The boy: Yes, we will continue. But, before we leave, please tell me what we, the humans, can do for you and how can we help you?
Owl 3: Don’t throw food in the trenches by the roads, because the mice gather for that food and we hunt the mice and that is how we suffer from the cars!
Owl 4: Use traps, not poison for the mice! Poisoned mice are easy captivity for us owls, and with that we are in danger from poisoning.
Owl 5: Don’t eliminate the old trees, and try to provide as many houses for the owls as you can!
Owl 6: Don’t put barbed wire and unnecessary decorations and high fences in the yards! Fences and decorations in the yards are great danger for us owls, because we mostly fly at night and often hit or get stuck in the fences and get hurt.
Owl 7: In spring, when the little owls learn to fly, we often find them on the ground. What can you do? You just have to lift the little owl and leave it on the closest branch. If you take it home so you can have fun with it, won’t help him, because he must learn how to fly and hunt on its own and not to be apart from its natural environment.
The girl: My dear owls! We’ve learnt a lot from you! We’ve learnt that you owls are brave, good and smart birds. We will spread your message and we’ll take care for you.
The boy: Without our care and help you won’t exist! That is why we’re going to do our best to correct our mistakes from the past and enable to have you, the owls, in a larger number. We’ve learnt that our relation is unbreakable. You are an important part of the human lives. If we don’t have you, we will get ourselves in danger.
The girl: We’ll be aware where we throw food, we’ll use traps instead of poison for the mice, we’ll build more owl houses, we’ll take care for your homes, we won’t throw the old trees, we won’t use barbed wire and unnecessary decorations in the yards and we won’t use the owls as pats! And we will respect the laws on owl protection in Republic of Macedonia and we will fight for new laws on protection that are implemented in the European Union!
Owl 1: Thank you my dear friends!
Owl 2: We are happy that we have found new friends between the humans. I’m sure that our message will be spread and that we’ll find more friends between the humans.
The girl: We won’t forget you! We will spread your message, immediately!
The boy: And we will immediately start an action for improving the living conditions for you, the owls! I promise you!
The girl: And now, goodbye! I hope that one day we will meet again! And then you are going to tell us your most beautiful story about your lives.
Owl 1: Goodbye my dear children!
Owl 2: But before we say goodbye, my dear brothers and sisters, let’s say goodbye to our friends with the most beautiful owl song!
During the theater play, the students were playing instruments and singing a song "SONG FOR THE OWLS" that was composed by themselves.
SONG FOR THE OWLS
We are little owls
This is not a joke
We need help from you
Hear us now.
So we can move in
When we are safe
We will move in.
Don’t throw poison in the fields
We will eat rodents
And, you little children
You will taste sweet with fruits.
Little owl gets down
To eat a mouse
But it caught only a tail
The owl realized that it will stay hungry.
Be careful little mice
Of us, the little owls
With you we’ll taste sweet
And we’ll leave nutrients for children.
During the Fair was realized a Workshop on topic "We are learning about the Owls!" in organization by Macedonian Association for Owls Protection - Skopje. At this Workshop the students have had the opportunity to view Owls alive and the Association have released one successfully cured owl in the nature nearby Bitola.
Uploaded video from StarT Fair on Youtube Channel.
The Event was media covered by following media:
Creation of information panels for two species of Owls that live in Natural Park "Pelister" - Bitola
Setting up the information panels about owls in the school yard.
At the end of this project, the students have created a Facebook Page " Owls in Bitola" in order to post taken pictures from owls seen in Bitola and wider environment.