Have you seen any migrating birds yet where you live this spring? Do you know what kind of birds they were? If not, how could you find out?
How do you think a winter that was warmer or colder than usual could impact migrating birds?
What, if anything, do you think birdwatching can reveal to people about the state of the environment?
In the article, the writer mentions that spring migration happens as a mass movement as opposed to its fall counterpart. What impact do you think climate change could have on both the fall and spring migration movements? What impact could a change in migration have on the overall environment?
- Prior to conducting this activity, locate a good source for blank world and continent maps. Get a giant world map for the class to use.
- As a class, brainstorm a list of animals that undertake an annual migration. You may want to have students conduct research to add more animals to the list.
- Assign or let students select one animal from the list to investigate. Challenge them to identify where the animal goes on its annual migration. Then have them print a copy of the most appropriate map and trace the animal's migration on that map.
- After all individual maps are finished, have students create a unique symbol that represents their animal. Combine the symbols to create a map key. Have students use their symbols to plot their animals' annual migrations on the giant world map.
Have students study the world migration map. Instruct them to identify animals with similar migration patterns. Challenge older students to explain why certain locations are migration hotspots for multiple animal species.
CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:
Divide the class into small groups. Assign each group one animal to investigate. Help groups select and print the most appropriate maps for tracking their animals' migration patterns. Instruct them to create simple symbols to represent their animals on the map key. Supervise as groups trace their animals' migration patterns on the giant world map.
Divide the class into small groups. Assign each group one animal to investigate. Challenge groups to select and print the most appropriate maps for tracking their animals' migration patterns. Instruct them to create symbols to represent their animals on the map key. Then have groups trace their animals' migration patterns on the giant world map. Remind them to use their symbols so the animals' paths are easy to follow.
Divide the class into pairs. Instruct each pair to select an animal to investigate. Review students' choices to ensure that there are no repeats. Once partners know their animal's migration pattern, tell them to select and print the most appropriate map to trace their animal's path. Then have them create a unique symbol to represent their animal on the map key. Have partners trace their animal's migration pattern on the giant world map. As students examine the results, challenge them to identify geographical hotspots that appear on multiple migration paths.
As a class, brainstorm a list of animals that migrate. Challenge students to include examples of mammals, birds and insects. Invite each student to select one animal to investigate. Review students' choices to ensure that there are no repeats. Instruct students to select and print the most appropriate map to trace their animal's path. Have them create a unique symbol to represent their animal on the map key. Give students time to trace their animal's migration pattern on the giant world map. Then have the class examine the results. Ask students to identify geographical hotspots that appear in multiple migration paths. Challenge them to explain why multiple animals visit each spot.
The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, part of the National Zoo, is dedicated to understanding, conserving and championing the phenomenon of bird migration. Explore the center’s site to learn all about bird friendly coffee, how to get involved and ongoing research. The site also features a host of lessons, fact sheets and games to share with students.
In this lesson from the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, high school students examine bird art to get a deeper understanding of a bird’s anatomy. Then they make connections between physical traits and habitat so they can design an imaginary bird in its environment.
Read this Smithsonian article to learn how scientists have shown that patterns in vegetation across a species’ range determine whether and how it moves.
In this multistep lesson from the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, students do the work of scientists who study the endangered North Atlantic right whale. They compare photos to identify an individual whale and use a record of sightings to track this whale’s movements along the eastern seaboard.
Read this Smithsonian article to learn why each year spring is shorter and summer is longer, thanks to some peculiarities in how the Earth moves.
The U.S. has Groundhog Day. Read this Smithsonian article to learn how residents of Zürich, Switzerland, predict spring’s arrival with an 11-foot-tall snowman stuffed with straw, cotton and dynamite.