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May 09th 2017

Birds flocking to Cobham Hall

Girls in Years 7 & 8 at Cobham Hall have been treated to a range of avian activity this week, from new-born chicks to soaring eagles!

The experience started with the delivery of several fertilised chicken eggs, brought in to allow students to get closer to living creatures.  The eggs started to hatch almost immediately, enabling the girls to witness the chicks' astoundingly rapid development.  “It’s a real eye-opener for the girls,” explains Head of Science Mr Jonathan Fryer.  “Respect of the animals is a priority and discussions often lead to farming and the care of animals.  Having the eggs and the chicks onsite prompts the girls to ask questions about their development, as well as reflecting on wider issues, such as whether a vegetarian diet would be more appropriate.”

As well as discovering more about the chicks, the girls also have the chance to learn more about themselves; handling the young chicks is a big thing for some students.  Some have to overcome a fear of being pecked, and others a fear of hurting the chicks.  One pupil commented afterwards, “I was frightened of birds, but I’m not now; you just need to understand them.” A few of our Sixth Formers couldn’t resist the opportunity to hold the chicks either, with Deputy Guardian Victoria delighting in cuteness of the chicks! 

The excitement of the newborn chicks was swiftly followed by a demonstration of birds of prey by local wildlife foundation Eagle Heights.  Mr Fryer explained, “The birds allow students to appreciate the variety of life and that even in the world of birds of prey, different species have different adaptations.  The girls were able to witness the silent flight of the owl and learn about the nictitating membrane of the eye, allowing vision while flying at high speed.”  Coincidentally, the visit happened when the girls were having a ‘Blast from the Past’ themed non-uniform day to raise funds for The Rainforest Trust.

Both activities allow students to get up close to some extraordinary creatures, and hold them – from the gentle touch required for the chicks to the strength needed to hold the weight of an eagle - and appreciate the adaptations each have to suit their environment.

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