Homeschooling Unit Studies: Birds

Ideas to put together a home schooling units study on the bird. Information on species, habitats, behavior and migration.

COMPARE BIRDS

Look up pictures of several different types of birds:

Aquatic birds (ducks, penguins)

Ground birds (turkeys, ostriches)

Flying birds (blue jays, sparrows)

Birds of prey (eagles, owls)

Compare and contrast their wings, beaks and feet.

Questions to consider: Why do these body parts vary among different types of birds? What can you learn about a bird's habitat and diet just by examining its wings, beak and feet?

BIRD WATCHING

Get a good pair of binoculars, a notebook and some colored pencils. Begin watching birds, either in your own back yard or the local park. Draw pictures (use the colored pencils, and note specific markings or characteristics), write notes about the bird's behavior, have a look at the bird's habitat. Look up the birds you spy in a field guide or research them in the library.

Additional Activities:

"Scrambled Eggs" Game: This will help the child learn the names of some of the more common birds in your region. Cut out some egg-shaped white paper. Scramble the letters in the name of a bird, and write it on the upper half of the egg. Make several eggs using different bird names. Let the student work on unscrambling the names of the birds. If there is more than one child, you can make it a race.

Feather Identification: Go to a neighboring park or woodland and collect some feather samples. Use disposable latex or rubber gloves, and place the feathers in clear plastic baggies. This precaution will protect you from any possible parasites or viruses. Examine the feathers and try to identify the birds to which they belong.

BIRD HOUSES

Different types of birds live in different types of homes. Some weave intricate, fully enclosed nests, while others just find a pile of dry leaves, and still others look for holes in grounds or trees. Look up some different bird "houses" and, when you're bird watching, see if you can find them.

Please note to never disturb a birds nest, or go to close to it, as it may alert predators of the nests presence, or cause the birds to abandon it.



Gather some dried leaves, twigs, sticks, twine and other materials from the ground and try to build a nest. Not so easy, is it?

DISSECT A BIRD

Pick up a whole chicken at the grocery store. Put on some latex or rubber gloves. Remove the necks, liver and gizzards. Let the child study them and cut them open with a butter knife. Either before or after, you can look up what the gizzard is.

Examine the carcass. Where would the feet and the head go? Look at the skin with a magnifying glass. Let the child examine the wings, moving them around and folding them in. Try to locate the joints of the wings. Have a peek inside of the cavity. Stick your hand in and feel the rib cage. If you are handy with a knife, remove the meat and have a better look at the skeleton (a skilled adult with a good knife should do the carving). If you have a hack saw, cut a thigh bone in half and have a look inside.

MIGRATION INFORMATION

Contact the local chapter of the Audobon Society and request information on the migration patterns in your region. Get a map of North America and hang it on a bulletin board. Cut out pictures of the birds that migrate near you and tack them up on the board around the map. Assign each bird a color, and get a corresponding color yarn. Get different colored push pins and pick a color for each season (for example, you could use white for winter, yellow for spring, etc.). Use the yarn to mark the migratory patterns of different birds. Tack them up on the map with the push pins that indicate the season of migration.

Compare how far some species travel to others. Remember to look for the migrating birds when they come your way by going bird watching in their habitats. Look for migrating flocks.

LOST FEATHERED FRIENDS

Go to a natural history museum and look at some extinct or endangered species.

Environmental Activity: Contact your local Audobon Society chapter to find out what you can do to help endangered species in your area.

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