Children name a bird on television easier than one in bush

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The Independent Online

Schoolchildren are unable to identify birds unless they feature in television and logos, research has found.

Schoolchildren are unable to identify birds unless they feature in television and logos, research has found.

While they picked puffins and woodpeckers - possibly due to the publishing house Puffin and the cartoon character Woody Woodpecker - they were baffled by the common blackbird, the house sparrow and the starling, the study released yesterday by Newcastle University showed.

Each of the 200 children surveyedcould identify the robin (mainly from its appearance on Christmas cards), but the blackbird was identifiable to only half of the children. Hardly any could identify species such as the curlew, goldfinch, oystercatcher or golden plover.

None of the children under 10 was able to identify the kestrel, although it was familiar to more than half of the 16-year-olds - possibly because of its use by the lager brand Kestrel.

Professor Stewart Evans said the decline in practical ecology in education and the "failure of scientists to communicate effectively with ... society" contributed to children's inability to recognise birds that did not feature on television.

"We seem to be producing a public that is environmentally illiterate at a time when environmental issues figure high," he said.

"It is unrealistic to expect people to care for the local environment if they are unaware of the organisms that live in it."

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