Hoo-hoo’s That?!

Children’s Bird Art Contest Raises Awareness for Owls

March 1, 2022 (Gainesville, GA) – For the second year, Elachee Nature Science Center elevated awareness for birds with programming and activities coinciding with the 2022 Great Backyard Bird Count activities throughout February. Among these was a Children’s Bird Art Contest. Some 200 young people from 18 states and 19 other countries submitted their original renditions of a Great Horned Owl. Elachee named three winners: Esme Tran (Age 0-7 Category), Meera Ali Al Lawati (Age 8-12 Category) and Caroline Kim (Age 13-17 Category).

The goal for this bird art contest was to generate awareness for the Great Backyard Bird Count that takes place the third week in February each year as a citizen science project to help identify birds in communities across the U.S. and Canada. This birding activity is a favorite of Elachee supporters and birders in north Georgia. Elachee hosted the children’s bird art contest as a way to encourage children and teens to learn about an important raptor found in each of Georgia’s 159 counties: the Great Horned Owl.

Elachee’s resident Great Horned Owl, Chewy, provided inspiration for contestants who submitted original 2-D and 3-D artwork. Visitors to the Nature Center may observe Chewy in his outdoor aviary habitat or follow him @chewy_the_owl. Narrowing the scope of this year’s contest proved successful in capturing the imaginations of these young artists yet gave them creative freedom to interpret the same subject in different ways, as a serious bird of prey or as a more cheerful and playful featured friend.

“Owls are a favorite subject because these magnificent creatures have such personality and uniqueness to their features,” comments Maranda McGaha, Elachee’s Director of School and Public Programs. “It’s really special for me, as Chewy’s primary caretaker, to see all these incredible perceptions of his personality. We received many types of media including clay and paper mache sculptures, paintings and drawings.

As part of the Elachee’s monthly thematic programming calendar, this February’s Great Backyard Bird Count festivities ranged from Birding 101 with Georgia Audubon’s Corina Newsome as host for the month’s Elachee Science Night, to a full day of Discovery Saturday public programming that included a guided bird hike and birding activities at the Nature Center.

“The Children’s Bird Art Contest is just another unique way that we can engage with the community, both near and far, while also promoting a very important citizen science project,” states McGaha. “The contest is also just a great way to encourage children (and their families) to take a moment to appreciate the miracle of birds, their role in our lives and hopefully, learn a little something about them.”