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Main Curriculum Tie:
Citizen Science in the Classroom website from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology includes sections on “All About Birds” (detailed information on different types of bird feeders and food) and “Teaching with Citizen Science ” (teaching materials and resources). It can be accessed at http://www.birds.cornell.edu/schoolyard/.
Birds of Western North America full-color poster features 20 familiar species, including key species information. Size: 24 inches x 34 inches. Folded – $$3.00 each; Unfolded – $$7.50 each. Order from the National Audubon Society at http://www.audubon.org/educate/aaorder.html.
Classroom Feeder Watch program of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a research and interdisciplinary education curriculum designed for students in grades 5-8.Through this program students learn how science and scientists work, become scientists themselves, collect data on feeder-birds and contribute it to a research database used by professional ornithologists in their studies of bird populations. Information about the program is available at http://birds.cornell.edu/cfw/.
Project Seasons, Shelburne Farms: Hands-on activities for discovering the wonders of the world. Written by Deborah Parrella and Illustrated by Cat Bowman Smith. Available for free loan from Utah Agriculture in the Classroom. Phone (435) 797-1657 or http://www.agclassroom.org/ut.
Encarta. Check out the on-line encyclopedia (http://www.encarta.msn.com) for
survival advantages of specific organisms.
Background For Teachers:
Instead of using hands and forelimbs to perform survival tasks, birds have a unique tool: their beaks. Birds use their beaks as multi-functional tools to groom feathers, weave nests, attack rivals, defend territories, communicate, and most importantly, to capture or gather food. A wide diversity of bird beaks have evolved over time.
Each bird 's beak creates a survival advantage which allows that bird to reproduce and pass its inherited traits on to the next generation. For example, the heron and the woodpecker both have long pointed beaks. However, the heron's beak is better for catching fish, while a woodpecker's is better for drilling into wood for catching insects. Over time, herons have become more numerous in marshlands than woodpeckers. This is why it is so hard to find a woodpecker feeding in marshland. It simply does not have what it takes to survive in that environment.
Hummingbirds feed on flower nectar and are attracted to red, tube-shaped flowers. Consequently, they need a beak that can fit into those flowers and a long, tubular tongue to collect the nectar. Seed-eating birds, such as cardinals, have short, thick beaks enabling them to break seeds open as easily as a nutcracker. Some birds have frail beaks that would break if they tried to crack open a hard seed. However, they have large mouths that more than make up for their weak beaks. Purple martins and whippoorwills use their over-sized beaks to catch insects while in flight. Their mouths function like huge insect nets.
While some birds, such as hummingbirds, are food specialists, others are food generalists. Blue jays, for example, eat berries, seeds, grains, nuts, insects, fruit, snails, frogs, small birds, salamanders and eggs. Their ability to eat a wide variety of food provides a survival advantage by enabling them to live in a greater variety of environments than food specialists. However, they may face more competition for each type of food.
Intended Learning Outcomes:
Invitation to Learn:
Integrate social studies concepts by having students examine Old and New World plants and animals. Did these plants need to adapt to new climates and conditions or were there greater changes in the culture of the people? Use the Internet to find information on Teosinte, a native grass that was changed over time to eventually become maize, a staple for the Native American diet.
Have students explore how a changing environment provided different survival advantages for the English peppered moth. These moths occur in two forms: a light gray form with dark splotches, and a uniformly dark form. Peppered moths rest during the day on trees and rocks encrusted with light-colored lichens which camouflage the light form, but expose the dark form to increased predation by birds. Before the Industrial Revolution, the dark moths were very rare. Pollution from the Industrial Revolution darkened the countryside in the late 1800's, killing the lichens. In this changed environment, the dark moths were concealed from birds, and the light moths became very rare.
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