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This lesson will help students learn that an animal's physical attribute, such as a bird's beak, may provide an advantage for survival in one environment but not in another.
|Representative food||Actual food||Simulated beak tool||Birds with this beak|
Red Kool-Aid in a narrow vase
|Nectar in a tubular flower||Drinking Straw||Hummingbirds|
|Mixed nuts in the
|Seeds||Nutcracker or pliers||Finches and
|Gummy worms buried in crushed cereal||Worms in soil||Chopstick or
|Puffed rice floating
in a dish of water
|Slotted spoon or
|M&M 's tucked into
a piece of foam or
|Crawling insects||Tweezers||Nuthatches and Warblers|
under an upside-down egg carton with
small holes cut in
each egg holder
|Insects in wood||Barbeque or shish
|Goldfish crackers||Minnows||Large flat serving
Online Bird Guide from the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology includes color illustrations of each bird; engaging and informative text describing habitat, food preferences, breeding behavior and identification tips; sound clips of songs and calls; and range maps showing where each species occurs. It is available at http://birds.cornell.edu/onlineguide/.
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.
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.
1-Use science process and thinking skills.
2-Manifest scientific attitudes and interests.
3-Understand science concepts and principles.
4-Communicate effectively using science language and reasoning.
Invitation to Learn:
Prepare a bird observation area by hanging one or more bird feeders near a classroom window. If using multiple bird feeders, use different types of food to attract different types of birds. Have a bird identification book and a pair of binoculars placed where students can use these tools for observation and identification.
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.
This lesson is part of the Fifth Grade Science Teacher Resource Book (TRB3) http://www.usoe.org/curr/science/core/5th/TRB5/. The TRB3 is designed to be your textbook in teaching science curriculum to your students. This book covers all the objectives of each standard and benchmark. If taught efficiently, a student should do well on the End-of-Level (CRT) tests. The TRB3 is designed for teachers who know very little about science, as well as for teachers who have a broad understanding of science.