Alphabet Bird Project - the A to Z of threatened wetland species

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

The Alphabet Bird Project is an environmental art initiative that aims to engage children and their families with our region’s unique waterways and wetland areas by drawing attention to the needs of locally threatened species.

In 2020 and 2021, Grade 4 students from schools across Geelong created artworks representing the 26 waterway and wetland birds that are threatened in our region. The works collected as part of the project in 2021 will be featured at the National Wool Museum as part of the Geelong Nature Forum exhibition, while a selection of the 2020 work will be featured on the Green Spine until late November 2021.

This is a joint project with the Geelong Field Naturalists Club that has been supported by Geelong artist, Dr Mary-Jane Walker, from The School of Lost Arts.

Make your own Alphabet Bird

Printable instructions and bird outlines are available at the bottom of this page.

Once you've made your own, please share it with us on social media via the hashtag #alphabetbirds or email us at [email protected]

Before you begin: Choose an Alphabet Bird from the list provided on the SWIFFT website.

Materials required

  • A printer
  • A piece of A4 paper to print your bird outline
  • Cardboard – A4-sized medium-weight (you could use recycled cereal boxes)
  • Scissors
  • Magazines and coloured paper – house and garden magazines are best, as the pictures have large blocks of colour
  • Glue
  • A storage wallet or clip to collate your magazine clippings

Step 1: Print the outline of your preferred bird from the ‘A to Z bird outline’ PDF at the bottom of this page.

Tip: Save paper by only printing the page you need. 

Step 2: Paste your bird outline onto cardboard, or a recycled cereal box, then let the glue dry.

Tip: Do not cut out the bird yet.

Step 3: Draw a rough outline of the bird’s eye, as well as the lines that separate the main blocks of colour.

Tip: If you are making a collage, you may want to label each block with the colour it represents. These will be covered over later when you paste on the paper feathers.

Step 4: Look through your magazines and cut out pages with colours that match your chosen bird. These should be collated into a library of colour and clipped together, or placed into a storage wallet, ready to collage.

Tip: Looking at and selecting colours is a great activity. See all the different shades and tones you can find for each colour.

Step 5: Cut simple teardrop or feather-shapes out of your coloured paper.

Tip: Bigger is better when cutting out your feather shapes, but try to keep them under 2 cm long (about the size of a ten-cent coin).

Step 6: Start pasting the ‘feathers’ on from the tail up, as shown in the photo. Starting at this end allows the feathers to lie on top of each other in a realistic way.

Tip: Keep referring back to the photo of your chosen bird while doing this step.

Step 7: Once you’ve added all the feathers, let the glue dry then cut around the outline of your bird. You may need help from an adult to do this. Now your bird is complete.

Tip: Stick your bird up in your room, or face it out into the street to show your neighbours.

Alternative suggestion

If you don’t have any magazines or coloured paper, colour the birds using pencils and paints instead.

Tip: Watercolour pencils are particularly good to use for this work, as you can ‘paint’ your bird with water after colouring, adding to the overall effect.

Learn about your bird

Once your artwork is complete, go online and find out more about your bird. Look for:

  • what your bird eats
  • where it lives
  • what you can do to help protect it.

Useful websites to visit include:

Share your creation

Once you've made your own, please share it with us on social media via the hashtag #alphabetbirds or email us at [email protected]

We also encourage you to choose another of our Alphabet Bird outlines and create a whole new artwork.

Page last updated: Tuesday, 28 September 2021