Your students will become familiarized with various species of birds that frequent the feeders and eventually be able to identify them without assistance. For 3rd-6th grade classrooms, part of the lesson can be learning to use a field guide unaided to correctly identify species. Younger grades can learn to identify species from pictures of common feeder birds prepared by the teacher. For all ages, listening to and learning bird songs is an extremely helpful tool when identifying birds; playing and practicing bird calls will aid in memory and engagement around each species.
Good bird songs to learn:
By using various feed types, you can also begin attracting birds from different genus’ such as finches, woodpeckers, titmice and chickadees, doves, and jays. Students can count the number of each species of bird that use the feeders and can also count how many different genus’ of bird use the feeder. Discussion of genus’ can also be used to begin education around phylogeny and how organisms are separated into kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus and species. The discussion of evolution is an easy jump after this by discussing the evolution of dinosaurs to birds and eventually discussing natural selection as a driving force behind evolution and speciation.
Lastly, you can encourage your students to participate in a Christmas Bird Count on their own time. They can submit their findings and data collection to a the National Audubon Society who will consolidate the data from across the country and then remit findings to participants.
However you choose to use bird feeders, one thing is certain, your students will become more engaged with the natural world and the wildlife around them.
Composed by Emily Johnson