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RPS 205 student saves pigeons, spreads birding gospel

Jackie Kuroda, a seventh grader in Rockford Public Schools, feeds pigeons in Paris two years ago.

Jackie Kuroda, a seventh grader in Rockford Public Schools, feeds pigeons in Paris two years ago.

Jackie Kuroda’s interest in pigeons took off when the birds landed on her outside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, eating out of her hand.

By then, her family already had rescued Pierre, an injured pigeon from the Chicago suburbs. Pierre promptly joined the Kuroda menagerie: three dogs, a cat, a tortoise and a miniature horse.

But birds are Jackie’s first love. The seventh grader at Maria Montessori School is a member of the Illinois Young Birders group.  This summer she addressed a symposium of the birding group in Lake County, attended by 60 people. She is a soon-to-be published researcher on bluebirds, based on her work at Sand Bluff Bird Observatory in Durand. She can even define palomacy and practices it. Palomacy, or pigeon diplomacy, is the art of saving pigeons that can’t be released into the wild.

Without Jackie and her family’s advocacy, Pierre surely would have been hawk food or euthanized because of his broken wing.

Pierre was the main event at a recent organizing meeting  for a Montessori chapter of Illinois Young Birders, hosted by Jackie and her mother, Jennifer Kuroda.  As one of the other students led Pierre outside the art room on a leash, Jackie recited little-known facts about pigeons. “They are as smart as a 3-year-old. They can recognize the whole English alphabet,” she said.

Then Jackie talked about the controversy surrounding whether pigeons can see their reflection in the mirror. Pierre made a loud cooing noise, as if on cue.

He was staring at his reflection in the chrome kick plate of a door in the Montessori hallway.

The Montessori program in the Rockford Public Schools  is designed to allow students like Jackie to explore topics they enjoy. The program also emphasizes collaborative learning, with students staying with one teacher for two or three years.

“I like that there’s more than one grade in a class,” Jackie said. “You can be a mentor and get help from other people.”

To join the Montessori chapter of the Illinois Young Birders club, contact Jennifer Kuroda (who is also president of the Sinnissippi Aububon Society) at jkuroda@swedishamerican.org.

Mary Kaull is communications coordinator for the Rockford Public Schools. Click here to subscribe to this blog. Also, please like RPS 205 on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

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