Birds of a Feather
Grade Appropriate Level: K-3, adjust for appropriate usage
Duration: Classroom & possible field trips
Photos of endangered birds of Canada (can be found at the Species at Risk Registry.
The Burrowing Owl (pictured) is considered at risk in BC.
Some websites here: Audubon Field Guide Burrowing Owl
Various websites and YouTube videos on local birds
Bird Audio sites: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/bcparksblog/2019/08/21/birds-to-listen-for-in-bc-parks/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psfG5xCOxkI (three-part episode)
Some information and history on extinct birds, like the Auk, the Dodo Bird and the Passenger Pidgeon found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbdRpjQ5sII
Collection of books and poems relating to birds
Wall map of North America or use one online: https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/maps-tools-publications/tools/geodetic-reference-systems/wall-maps/16870
Vocabulary meanings (endangered, extinct etc.) are available at BC Species at Risk:
EXTINCT: A species that no longer exists.
EXTIRPATED: A species that no longer exists in the wild in Canada, but occurring elsewhere.
ENDANGERED: A species facing imminent extirpation or extinction.
THREATENED: A species that is likely to become endangered if limiting factors are not reversed.
SPECIAL CONCERN: A species of special concern because of characteristics that make it is particularly sensitive to human activities or natural events.
NAR = NOT AT RISK: A species that has been evaluated and found to be not at risk.
C = CANDIDATE: A species that is on the short-list for upcoming assessment.
DD = DATA DEFICIENT: A species for which there is insufficient scientific information to support status designation.
Prescribed Learning Outcomes:
The student will be able to:
describe the difference between the terms endangered/extinct
Identify by name 5 endangered birds
Identify and locate parts of a bird
Identify by sound some different birds
Show appreciation and respect for the environment and endangered species
Identify the geographical region where the birds live
Students will engage in various cross-curricular activities.
Teacher will discuss and define the terms endangered and extinct and apply these terms to some bird species in Canada (see background information via website lists included for additional resources).
Suggested Instructional Strategies:
1. Use a guessing game to introduce birds to class. Give descriptions of some locally common birds one part at a time and have the students try to guess what you are describing. Use a sound tape of some very common bird songs in the game, too.
2. Watch a video by B.C. Bird Trail as well as the other provided above, as a guide to exploring birding, conservation and community in British Columbia.
3. Use a large diagram of a bird as a bulletin board to help students learn the parts of a bird. Also, give them a handout to take home so that they can teach their parents about birds. Excellent free-to-use resource here: https://www.edrawmax.com/article/a-guide-to-understand-bird-with-diagram.html
4. Give a verbal class quiz every day on the bird parts. This activity becomes a lot more fun if the teacher or a student draws the quiz bird on the chalkboard freehand. You can draw some wild and crazy birds and the students will learn to identify the parts on a wide variety of bird shapes. Discuss how birds are different from people.
5. Bird Descriptions: Using pictures as a reference record and discuss the description of five or more kinds of endangered birds in Canada and BC.
6. Bird watching: If possible use binoculars with wide-angle lenses and instant focus for birding. (If unavailable at your school, inquire if any students have access). Have students take the binoculars out of the cases and experiment with how they work. Through the discovery method, they will find out how to focus the image. Encourage peer teaching if some students have used binoculars. Encourage research by way of the instruction sheets to find out how to clean the lenses and how to adjust the eyepiece if one eye is stronger than the other. Emphasize that these are expensive pieces of equipment and help the class develop a set of rules for using the binoculars and penalties for misusing them. Contact a local member of a birdwatching or naturalist society such as Audubon to accompany the class on a birdwatching field trip.
6A. Use a set of cards with small letters and numbers printed on them to have binocular speed quizzes. To pass the quiz a student must take a pair of binoculars that is out of focus and set for the wrong eye width and adjust them so that they can read the card in 5 seconds or less. This activity can go very quickly if a relay game is set up. It is also a good time to practice the proper precautions in handling the binoculars.
Use the same type of activity for describing nests and eggs.
6B. NOW YOU ARE READY TO GO OUT AND FIND THOSE BIRDS!!!
Arrange for a field trip to a bird sanctuary, park, or just a walk around the school neighbourhood. Pay attention to where birds land, how long they stay, where they go, what they do and where they fly. Can you identify any of these birds? Are any of the birds that you see endangered species? If you can take along a tape recorder, record bird songs and try to identify the bird later in the classroom by the bird song.
6C. Possible post-trip discussion questions: From bird watching, what did you find the bird likes to do most?
What does it eat? Why is it important to study endangered species? What are some steps you can take now to help preserve endangered birds? Do you think your efforts will make a difference? Take on a class project to help protect endangered species, for example: create an informative website or brochure for your school or community.
7. After reading a story about birds, divert from the text by continuing the story and creating a new storyline. Here’s a free audiobook for educators on the Whooping Crane’s journey from population decline in Canada/North America and another on Endangered and Extinct Birds. You can also learn about the origin of the Audubon Society and its quest to document the birds of North America.
8. The Habitats of the Birds: Students learn the geographical location, on a wall map, of the birds they are studying. The map should be displayed throughout the duration of the project for the students to examine. Discuss climate and any interesting facts about the areas. Discuss: Which area are most of the endangered birds located? Which bird is your favourite and why? How can you show your appreciation for the environment as well as making it safer for birds?
9. Sculptures: Students will model clay birds with regular soft clay or create paper mache birds. Video tutorial here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGFyZA7qJHo
10. Brown Bag Nests: Students will create their own bird nests out of brown paper bags, twigs, and grass. Tutorial here: https://alphamom.com/family-fun/holidays/make-a-birds-nest-for-spring/
11. Bird Feeders: Students will create feeders out of pine cones, peanut butter and bird seed. Tutorial: https://www.thespruce.com/pine-cone-bird-feeder-385750
If time, location and resources permit, a trip to the Metro Vancouver OWL rehab facility is worthwhile.