What do birds need to live?
What are some of the things you need to live? We can list the five most important things that birds, and all living things, need to live:
Interpreting environmental studies in the curriculum is all about making connections. Strive to associate the subjects that are being taught with environmental topics to create a fully integrated curriculum which promotes environmental literacy.
Try these ideas below for your next class.
Chemistry: What is clean water anyway?
Biology: Where can birds get their nutritional needs?
Geography: Where are these habitats?
Social Studies: How do people affect their own environment? How does this affect different species of birds?
Math: How much space does a bird need to forage for food? One acre? Two?
Mechanics of Flight
Technology: Can we track where these birds are going?
Biology: What are the benefits of skeletal adaptations? What about feather composition?
Physics: How does the bird stay aloft?
Math: Does the velocity of the wind affect the flight?
Art: How does a flying bird look from the ground? What are field marks?
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How do we identify birds?
When you are first starting out, it may seem overwhelming to try and identify the birds you are seeing. Use the steps below to make it a little easier.
First, take a look at the size of a dollar bill. That is six inches long. How about a piece of paper? That is eleven inches high. Did you know that a House Sparrow (6-inches) is as big as that dollar bill? Did you know a Robin (10-inches) is about as tall as that piece of paper? Using these new size guidelines, try to gauge the size of the bird you are looking at. Make a note of the size, it will help you later.
Next we will look at the habitat the bird is in. Is it a forest, a field, along the edge of the water, or along the edge of a parking lot in a suburban neighborhood. This too is important information.
Now, onto the bird at hand. Look at the colors, face markings, wing markings, or even leg color. What does the beak look like? Is it singing? What does that sound like? Where is it standing: on top of the tree, eye level, or on the ground? Take as many notes as you can. Write them down before you forget them. Once you look at pictures you will need to refer to your written notes.
Finally, look at the bird guide, or google for the bird using your notes. You could look up images for a: red bird in my backyard with a short beak. aha...A Cardinal. This bird is smaller than that robin. The Northern Cardinal stands at 8-inches tall.
This is a mixed deciduous/evergreen forest.
A habitat is a place where an organism lives and finds its life needs. A habitat may be the area under a log or rock where a salamander finds its food and shelter. It can also be the stream where a brook trout finds oxygen and food. Birds may find a perfect habitat among the ridges and cliffs of the nearest mountain range, or the nearest skyscrapers and bridges in the city. There are many different ways to define a habitat based on the needs of the individual species.
A forest habitat provides several layers of trees and shrubs along with living and dead (rocks and sand) materials on the ground. Perhaps you would rather live in a field among the tall grasses and low shrubs. How about a desert with limited rainfall each year and few plants to feed from. A riparian habitat is the edge of the water feature where it touches the land.
One of the first steps in learning to identify a species is to identify the habitat in which you are standing. There are a multitude of choices. Could a bird survive here? Learn more about habitats from the National Wildlife Federation.
Migration - Seasonal movements
Flocks of birds migrate together.
One year / Four seasons.
Some birds are year-round residents. They will stay in one location all year and put up with the changes in the weather and in the food resources. This is a tough life, but someone has to do it.
Many other species of birds will move to a new location during the winter and spring seasons. This is known as a MIGRATION. Migration may take the form of a movement from the top of the mountain to the base of the same mountain (a longitudinal migration). A migration may be a short distance movement from one location to another. The shortest migrations are made by birds that breed in the southern United States and winter in Mexico or the West Indies, a trip which can be as short as a few hundred miles (Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, 2012).
The most commonly described migration is a long distance movement from one continent to another continent. A single migration journey could take a bird upwards of one month to complete. Why do they do it? How do they do it? Download the following article from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center to learn more. HAVE WINGS WILL TRAVEL: Avian Adaptations for Migration. Learn more at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, Washington, DC
Attenborough, David. (2012). The life of birds. Retrieved from
Centre for Environmental Research and Education. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.cere-india.org/index.html.
Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. (2012). All about birds. Retrieved from http://www.allaboutbirds.org/.
National Wildlife Federation. (2012). Create a Habitat. Retrieved from http://www.nwf.org/Get-Outside/Outdoor-Activities/Garden-for-Wildlife/Create-a-Habitat.
Smithsonian Migratory Bird center. (2012). Fact Sheets. Retrieved from http://national zoo.si.edu/