Birds and Their Adaptations, Gr. 3-4


Studying birds is one of the most popular outdoor activities in America. Thousands of people put food out for wild birds, watch birds in their yards, put up birdhouses, travel to see new bird species, and participate as amateurs in scientific studies of birds. Birding or bird watching is an interesting life-long hobby and ornithology or the study of birds is a fascinating area of science.

If you are feeding wild birds, you may wish to identify the seed found in wild bird food mixes you are using. Then, research which of these seeds are preferred by the birds in your area.

The ESP Birds and their Adaptations unit includes hardware to put together a bird feeder using materials from the kit plus a #10 or 3 pound coffee can. Can't put up a bird feeder to watch birds at school? Visit an online bird feedercam in Ithaca, New York, or in North Carolina.

Identifying Birds

The Elementary Science Program had a past Activity of the Month on Bird Study which has some helpful tips on learning more about birds including how to identify a bird. The Complete List of North American Birds has photos and information which could help with identifying birds. The Virtual Birder has a number of resources to help build and practice bird identification skills. Patuxent Tools for Learning About Birds has many resources for learning to identify birds by sight and song. Songs and Calls of Some New York State Birds has "au files" of bird songs.

Bird Biology

The PBS site for The Life of Birds has information about bird biology and the making of this TV series.

Ever heard of an owl pellet? Owls swallow their prey bones, feathers, fur and all and cough the undigestible parts out later. Visit Virtual Owl Pellet Dissection, part of KidWings, to learn more.

Online Nests

In the spring, a Webcam feeds live images to the Internet from an active Peregrine Falcon nest on Kodak tower in Rochester.

Cornell's Laboratory of Ornithology has a page of live Webcams looking into birdnests of several species. Check it out.

Finding Birds

Want to know what birds are being seen where you live? The Virtual Birder Regional Birding Information pages can help you find out. The New York Birding Wiki has a number of useful resources about bird sightings, places to go, etc.

The Rochester area is home to one of the best spring hawk watching sites in North America. For information on Lake Ontario hawk flights and the most recent spring's migration study results, visit the Braddock Bay Raptor Research site. The Rochester Birding Association has other information on birding around the Rochester Region.

Each spring, students "find" fledglings, baby birds newly out of the nest who do not fly very well yet. These are still being cared for by their parents and should NOT be rescued. If they are in danger from a cat or other source of injury, they can be picked up and put in a tree or bush nearby. Birds do not notice smells very much and will not abandon their young if you held them for a moment. For a good video about rescuing birds, see A Home for Pearl (recommended by teachers from Tonawanda City Schools).

Other Resources

Birding on the Net has articles about birds in the news and an extensive set of bird related links.

The Chipper Woods Bird Observatory has some nice on-line resources including photos of birds, articles about owls, a student bird trivia quiz, and more.

The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology has an online bird guide, and other resources for amateur birders, including ways to get involved in research.

A list of official state birds is just one of the bird resources at here with illustrations and information about them from John J. Audubon's famous Birds of America, 1840.

Cats Indoors is a Website with lesson plans sponsored by the American Bird Conservancy about an often over-looked way of conserving birds, keeping a common backyard predator away from wild prey. Staying indoors is also good for the health of your cat.

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge in central New York has added education resources about osprey research, wetlands and other bird related topics at Learning on the Wing.

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