Bird Walks Science Projects

Grades: Various
Summary: This bird unit idea allows students to experience nature first hand and provides wonderful academic opportunities.

Bird walks help the child sharpen their observation skills. These walks can be any length. You can get plenty of observations done in 10 minutes. There are several rules or guidelines that you should establish.
1. Keep noise to a whisper or you'll scare the birds away
2. When you see a bird you may point and pish (pishing is a technique used by birding experts to attract birds. You repeat pish, pish, pish. This sound resembles the sound made when opening a soda can.) and

3. Remember safety rules if going near streets. I have some birding props that help the child feel like a real birder. I have made some nifty little clipboards. They are only pieces of cardboard with clips at the top. I punch a hole in one corner and tie a pencil on a string. We also made cute little visors. One year we made binoculars out of toilet paper tubes covered in black paper. During this unit, we took a bird walk about twice a week.

Pose the question: Are there birds in our schoolyard?
Record their answers on chart paper.
Go on a walk and look for evidence of birds in the schoolyard.
When you return, record their observations.
There are birds in our schoolyard
We know because,
We saw them.
We heard them chirping.
We saw feathers on the ground.
We saw scat on the ground.
Talk about which senses were used in this activity.
Determine if birds have the same senses we have.

Pose the question: How could we attract more birds to our schoolyard?
Record their answers on chart paper.
They will probably say feed them. So brainstorm what to feed them.
They will probably say bird seed.
Place a simple bird feeder outside your window with birdseed.
Be sure the kids can see the feeder.
Let the children observe the birds as they come to feed.
Graph how many birds come each day.
Compare the numbers to see if there is a growing number.
Make sure you check the seed daily or the birds will not come to depend on that food source.
Lots of times, some birds will get only the kind of seeds they like and leave the rest. Some birds leave the hulls. So be sure to change or add to the feed about every other day.
After attracting the birds, determine the different types of birds that come to feed. Name the birds. They don't have to be the real names, let the kids come up with a name, just like scientists do.
Make another graph to count the different types of birds that come to the feeder.

Pose the question: Where do you find birds?
Record their answers on chart paper.
Give each child a piece of plain white paper.
Have them draw a cloud at the top, grass at the bottom, and a telephone pole. This will be their recording sheet on their nature walk.
As they walk have the children make a tally mark for every bird that they see. If they see it on the ground, they make a tally mark near the grass. If the bird they see is flying, they make a tally mark in the sky near the cloud. And if they see a bird on a tree, on a building rooftop, or on a telephone wire, then they make a tally on the telephone wire.
This of course will not be accurate, but it is a start. Do not expect the children to have the same answers. This is a tool to help the children sharpen their observation skills.
When the children get inside, have them write their findings. You can start their sentence with: I saw the most birds _________. Determine where most of the children saw the most birds. Write a sentence on the chart made earlier to reflect the class find.

Pose the question: What color are the birds on our schoolyard?
Record their answers on chart paper.
Give each child a sheet of plain paper.
Have them color a blob of each color that you ask them to. You could hold up word cards to have a review of color words. They should have a blob of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, black, white, and grey. If you want, have them write the color word beside the blob. This will be their recording sheet on their next nature walk.
Every time they see a bird they are to put a tally mark beside the color of the bird they saw.
When you come in, have the children count up their tally marks and determine which color bird they saw the most. Have them write a sentence such as: I saw a lot of _____ birds. Determine the color that was the norm and write a sentence on the chart that would answer the posed question. We saw a lot of ______ birds.

Pose the question: What do birds do all day?
Record their answers on chart paper.
This one may be a bit harder. Vocabulary may be a problem. Throw these words out and see if the kids can describe or act out their meaning. Feeding, bathing/dusting, preening, resting, singing/calling, nest building, courting, flocking, mobbing.
Get a large sheet of chart paper and draw a simple bird doing the action described. Make this simple. (For mobbing, draw a cat with 4 or 5 birds flying down to it. for courting, have one bird offering another bird a piece of food. For calling, have a bird on a tree branch with its mouth open as if singing.
Write the descriptive word under each drawing.
On this walk, take the chart paper with you. Find a nice bird watching place, and record your findings. You should observe for about 10 minutes. Write a conclusive sentence such as: We found that most of the birds were _____ today.
The Owl and the Woodpecker, by Brian Wildsmith, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971
In this story an owl moves into a new home, but doesn't realize that a woodpecker lives near by. The woodpecker hammers all day while the owl is trying to sleep. A conflict between the owl and the woodpecker builds and more animals come to offer solutions.
Discuss the different habits of owl and woodpeckers. Make a venn diagram of their characteristics.
Some suggestions: Owls---eat small animals, sleep during the day, hunt at night Woodpeckers---eat insects, peck on trees both---are birds, make home in trees Ask the question: How could these characteristics lead to a problem between these two birds? List the all the things that made the owl and the woodpecker mad at each other. Discuss what happened when the other animals tried to help. Discuss the characters' feelings when they were arguing. Have the children relate a similar situation in their own life.
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