Victorian School and Work in Preston

Bird Scaring

This painting is called Birdscaring. It was painted in 1896 by Sir George Clausen. Have a look at the painting full screen and think about these questions.

  • What do you think the boy is doing?
  • What is the weather like? What clues are there in the picture?
  • What time of day do you think it is? Why do you think this?
  • What do you think the object in the boy’s hand is for? 
  • Why do you think there is a fire?
  • Step into the boy’s shoes – how are you feeling? What can you see, smell, hear, feel, taste? What are you thinking?
  • Do you think the boy looks healthy/happy
  • How old do you think the boy is?
  • Why do you think farmers wanted birds to be scared away?
  • Do you think it would be a difficult job? Which bit in particular? Why?
  • Do you think it would be a dangerous job? Why?
  • Imagine this was your job. Which aspects would you have enjoyed and which would you have disliked?
Bird scarers were like human scarecrows. Their job was to stand in a
farmer’s field and scare away the birds so they didn’t eat the crops
and seeds. They did this by making a noise or chasing them off. Bird
scarers started work at a very young age and worked out in the fields whatever the weather for very long hours, often from dawn until dusk for a few pence. The object in the boy’s hand is called a clapper and would be waved to make a noise that scared the birds away.

There are other paintings to look at and ask questions about in the Victorian School & Work documents  download.

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