Birds are a big part of our lives, our history and our ecosystem. They are free to soar in the skies, sit on your rooftop, and walk in your yard. However many of us hardly notice birds in our daily life (except for the unfortunate droppings from above). Early civilizations such as the Egyptian, drew birds as spirits and gods on tombs. Romans used the pattern of birds to determine the will of gods. Birds traveled between continents thousands of years before explorers found them. They migrate to different continents between seasons to find food and a better place to breed. In order to make this move easy, they usually travel in a V formation to decrease air resistance and make it easier for the flock to stick together.
There are over 10,000 bird species in the world and they all have their own stories. While 925 species have been sited in the U.S and Canada, South America has the largest concentration of birds with over 3,200 bird species. The study of birds is known as ornithology and scientists who study birds are called ornithologists. Birds attract mates, build nests, protect their territory and hunt for food. Birds play a large place in ecology, as they are an important part of the food web.
Be a Bird Watcher!
Activity 1 – Amazing Birds!
Did you know that you need to cook an ostrich egg for two hours to get a hard-boiled egg?? There is no end to learning more about birds. And here is another interesting fact! A bird’s heart beats much faster than our heart does. They need a strong circulatory system and a strong heart to fly. A hummingbird’s heart beats about 1,000 times a minute, whereas a human’s heart beats about 60-90 times! Like we said, every species has it’s own story. Impress your friends with ten or more interesting facts that you find about birds.
Activity 2 – Birds in the Food Chain
In this activity, draw a food chain that includes a bird. See how important it is that birds have worms, seeds and grasses to survive. Label the participants in your food chain. What do you think would happen if the worms or insects were not available for birds to eat?
Activity 3 – Birds of a Feather
Bird watchers look at the plumage, or feathers, of birds, to help identify what type of bird it is. They also look at the size, color, call, nesting habits, etc.
Using the Audubon’s Guide to the Parts of a Bird, make a pencil sketch of a bird of your choice.
Birds have five different feather types –
remiges: fight feathers
retrices: tail feathers
coverts: covering feathers of the remiges and retrices
upperpart: on the mantle, scapular and surface of the wing
underparts: feathers on the throat, breast, belly, flanks, vent and under tail
Using neat printing, label the five different plumage areas, markings of the head and bill (beak) parts.
Birds of a feather flock together!
Be a Bird Artist!
Activity 4 – Bird Guides
Go to the library and check out a bird guide. Using your location, find out what different species of birds live in your city. Now grab a guide, your binoculars and go to a park! Take a walk around and find five different species by using your guide. Take photos, do sketches in your journal and write down five interesting facts about each species.
It is very easy to find and collect beautiful feathers once you start looking for them. Start your very own feather collection for fun. See if you can find different types and colors. Once you have collected at least ten feathers, use your guidebook to try and identify what bird it came from. Make an art piece or wearable jewelry item using your found feathers, paint or any kind of art supply. Share your work with your friends the classroom.
Let the birds guide you!
Activity 5 – Be a Birdwatcher
Look out a window. Walk to school and search the treetops. Walk along the river or in a park and listen for bird sounds. For one week, record with photos, sketches and notes how many birds you see. What can you learn from looking for birds? Seeing a bird will give us information about its size, coloring, markings, flying ability, social life, nesting and habitation patterns. Bird watchers observe the size and shape, color pattern, behavior, range, habitat, field marks, flight, songs and calls.
Be a Bird Watcher!
- How many bird species are found in the U.S and Canada?
- What do birds need to fly?
- What do birds eat?
- How many feather types do bird watchers look for?
- What is the study of birds?
- 10,000 Birds
- American Museum of Natural History Family of Birds
- APP Audubon Birds ($9.99)
- APP Bird Calls (free)
- APP Birds of North America D. Sibley ($19.99)
- APP Chirp! ($3.99)
- APP Ibird Pro ($9.99)
- Are Birds Really Dinosauers?
- Bird Families Audubon
- Bird Finder Ask a Biologist
- Bird Games
- Bird Guide Audubon Online
- Bird Migration Tired Travelers NASA Radar
- Birds Interesting Facts
- Bird Sleuth
- Birds National Geographic (free)
- Bird Watching
- Cornell Lab of Ornithology
- Distinguishing Bird Calls
- Maya Lin's What is missing?
- TEDed Bird Migration-A Perilous Journey
- Video BBC How an Egg Becomes a Baby Penguin
- Video Come Fly With Me
- Video Explore the World of Birds Video
- Video Genius of Birds – Embryo to High Flier
- Video Hermit Thrush Singing
- Video Murmurations
- Video Peacock Bird Headress Project K-2
- Videos Birds National Geographic