Teachable Moments: For the Birds!

The next few weeks are not just about celebrating Christmas or Hanukah. Winter officially starts on December 21 (winter solstice). A recent Teachable Moments blog discussed migration and hibernation as ways that animals deal with changing seasons. This issue is about birds. The migration and movement of birds is something that even young children may notice. It’s always fun to watch the different formations of birds as they are flying, or just the sheer numbers.
Experiential Learning:
From December 14, 2009 to January 5, 2010, people all over the Americas are participating in this year’s annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC). http://www.audubon.org/Bird/cbc/. The Great Backyard Bird Count will take place in February (12-15, 2010): http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc/To participate in either of these count, contact your local Audubon chapter: http://www.audubon.org/states/index.php, birding groups in your area or click here: http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc/howto.html. You can count birds that you see in your backyard or even at a feeder!
This year is the 110th year that the CBC counts have been done! Over a century of data has helped scientists to spot significant drops in numbers indicating areas of concern. See how Christmas Bird Count helps protect species and their habitat; http://www.audubon.org/Bird/cbc/howcbchelpsbirds.html
For those of you who have used our free, on-line cross-curricular teaching activities, you may have noticed that we frequently use data from the Great Backyard Bird Count in our math section. http://sylvandellpublishing.com/TeachingActivitiesPage.htm

Ponder-able questions:
• What do you do to stay warm and protected during the winter?
• What part of a bird’s body helps it to stay warm?
• Why do some birds migrate and others do not?
• What types of birds spend the winter where I live?
• What do the birds eat in the winter?
• How is that the same as or different from what they eat in the summer?
• What can I do to help birds in the winter (especially in cold areas)?
Ponder-able questions related to the Great Backyard Bird Count data http://gbbc.birdsource.org/gbbcApps/results: (where you live)
• Which bird had the highest count in year _____
• Which birds had the highest count in each of the last five years?
• Are there big changes?
• Why do you think there are so many of this type of bird at this time of year?
• For birds that didn’t have high numbers: why do you think there are so few of these birds here in the winter?
• How have the numbers changed over the years? By specific bird or overall.

Bird books to read:
Code expiration date: 02/17/2010
Please click on the following link:
Christmas Eve Blizzard (a timely Christmas morning miracle)
The Best Nest
Loon Chase
Henry the Impatient Heron
Baby Owl’s Rescue
If You Were a Parrot
Whistling Wings

Please note that our eBooks are a great resource for teachers in the classroom or after-school programs (can be projected) and are fun for children to use at home too. Enjoy!


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