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For the Birds

Investigate bird behavior by feeding pigeons, ducks, jays, sparrows or sea gulls.

Group Size: depends on bird abundance

Suggested Age: 8 and up

Time: 40 min for activity + 10 min debrief + travel time to site

Consider…
  • Site: Best areas are places where people likely feed birds regularly because the birds have learned to associate people with food. With that said, birds are opportunists and if you are patient, will flock to any new food source made available. If you start with an area seemingly void of birds, it would be interesting to watch how other birds figure out food is available.
  • Safety: Remind children that these are wild creatures and deserve the respect and distance. Most birds will keep relative distance, however be aware that gulls, geese and ducks are brave and can become aggressive, particularly when competing for your food. DO NOT FEED BIRDS BY HAND. If in the unlikely chance someone is bit, clean the area thoroughly and monitor for infection.
  • Materials: Action cards, “models,” colored paper, clay, cloth, bread, popcorn and birdseed

Focus question:
What can you learn about bird behavior from your observations and experiments?

Learning outcomes:
  • Attract birds using food and observe their behaviors.

Summary:
Nearly everyone has fed birds: perhaps pigeons or sparrows in the city; jays in picnic areas; ducks or geese by the local ponds; or sea gulls at the seashore? These six types of birds are easy to attract with food and relatively comfortable around humans. We often overlook them because they are so common in our environment, but they can offer fascinating insight into bird behaviors, and population interactions. For the Birds encourages you and your group to observe birds and, through feeding them, discover more about them and their behavior.

Isn’t it Amazing?
Mobbing – Mobbing behavior is an anti-predator behavior, which occurs when a group of individuals cooperatively attack or harass a predator, usually in order to protect their young. While this behavior has been observed in other species (such as ground squirrels and bluegill fish) birds are unique in their ability to work together with other species! When a hawk or owl enter a peaceful forest area during nesting season, often a robin will alert others of the danger and chickadees, sparrows, and finches alike will join in to harass the danger away. In the mammal world this would be the equivalent of squirrels, chipmunks, beavers, and rabbits working together to harass away a coyote!

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Comments

good activity