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Shepherd Street School

Bird Scaring

The painting below is called Birdscaring. It was painted in 1896 by Sir George Clausen. Use the discussion ideas below to explore the painting.


Painting by Sir George Clausen called Bridscaring of a boy scaring birds away with a wooden clapper.  He has a blanket wrapped around his shoulders and is standing by a small fire.
'Bridscaring' by Sir George Clausen

Discussion Ideas

  • 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 and Work documents  download.