Thursday, April 25, 2013

Bird Behavior Scavenger Hunt

In this week's book, Moonbird by Phillip Hoose, we read the true story of a bird that's flown an amazing distance in its life. This week's science activity is a guest post by biologist (and good friend) Kate Grandison, who knows a whole lot about birds. Take it away, Kate!
 

Look what that bird’s doing! Birds not only have different physical characteristics but different behaviors.  A bird’s behavior may result from an adaptation that helps the bird survive. For example, flocking (grouping together) helps birds in several ways. It can protect a bird from a predator by safety in numbers- most flocks can more easily drive away predators as a group than alone. And birds can warn each other about predators, spending more time feeding and finding food sources.
With a friend or by yourself, look for the behaviors listed below (or click here for a printable version). Check those you find, then list the specific location or habitat. If you can, identify the species using an online or printed bird guide. If not, list some identifying characteristics. How many can you find in 15 minutes? I bet you’ll be surprised.
Can you find a bird doing each of these things?
  • Singing or calling
  • Preening (looks as if it is nibbling, tugging, or combing feathers with its beak)
  • Bathing in water
  • Taking a dust bath
  • Flying
  • Perched on a branch
  • Perched on a wire, or fence post
  • Walking or hopping on the ground
  • Standing on the ground
  • Feeding
  • Flying with a worm or insect in its mouth
  • A group of birds perching together on a wire
  • A flock of small birds chasing a large bird
  • A group of birds flocking together
  • Other (list behavior)
More Challenges: 
  1. Choose one species of bird and record behavior patterns at different times of the day for a week or more. 
  2. Conduct your observations in different habitats at the same time of day.
Helpful Resources:
  • All About Birds: Online bird guide, general bird and bird ID information.
  • Flying Wild: Curriculum and resources for environmental education, including math, language arts, and social science activities.
Thanks so much for this great activity, Kate! And happy birding, everyone!

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