|Environmental Activities for People who Use English as a Foreign Language (Peace Corps, 1994, 118 p.)|
The topic of birds is usually familiar to most environmentalists. The discussion of birds and habitat stimulates environmental awareness. The leader does not need to have a great knowledge about birds to guide a group through this unit.
Rationale - To stimulate awareness of the unique characteristics of a bird.
Why Are Birds?
Have the group try to answer this question.
Characteristics of birds are:
1. Birds have feathers.
2. They have wings.
3. Birds have two legs and two feet.
4. They have bills.
5. They have no teeth.
6. The young hatch out of eggs.
7. Birds are very light because they have large air spaces in their bones.
Rationale - To identify various parts of a bird's body, its behavior and habitats.
Have the group take five minutes and individually try to fill in the bird picture. (SEE END OF UNIT). It is possible to draw your own bird or use another sample from a magazine or book and to adapt it to your group's needs.
Go over the various parts of a bird with the group and relate the body parts, when possible, to the human anatomy. Also, go over the names of the parts of the bird that are already typed on the activity sheet (if you are using it).
Discuss the possible sizes, shapes, colors and field marks on birds in general. Observe bird behavior and habitat. SEE BELOW UNDER SUGGESTIONS FOR HELP IN LEADING THE DISCUSSION. These topics are pictured on the Activity 2 sheet. This activity increases specialized vocabulary.
In the U.S.A. the size of all birds are compared to either the small-sized sparrow, medium-sized robin or large-sized crow. In other countries there may be other types of birds used for comparisons. Suggest that the group members can decide on three common birds in their country to represent the small, medium and large category of bird sizes and to compare other birds to these ones. This exercise enables students to think about the concept of size comparison relative to a standard when describing a bird. The group can use the names of their birds in their own language. Pictures are very helpful as examples for the suggestions below.
This can deal with the body, wings, tail or head. The body can be long, tall, thin, fat.. The head can be big, small.. The bill can be discussed in ACTIVITY 3 (SEE BELOW). The wings can be broad, narrow, rounded, pointed, curved.. The tail can be long, wide, short, pointed, forked, thin.. Allow the members of the group to give their ideas when possible.
When discussions field marks be general. Are their marks, stripes or bars on the bird and whereabouts? Are there rings around the bird's eyes? What are the colors of the bird?
Ask the group what is the bird doing? Use a picture or the activity sheet? For instance, is the bird singing, looking for food, flying, mating, migrating and etc. What is their flying behavior? Do they fly in a straight, zigzag or a curved line, in a spiral, fast, flapping their wings constantly, gliding, in an up and down pattern..?
Where did you see the bird? Does it live or nest in a river, lake, ocean, wetland, forest, mountains, city..? You can also discuss if the bird was on top of the tree, in the middle of the tree, on the trunk, on the ground, at the edge of a body of water..? The same species of birds are always found in the same general area. This is their habitat.
If this is a foreign country for you, it is acceptable to tell the group that you are not familiar with their birds, and you are also not an expert (ornithologist). Do stress that EVERYONE is capable of observing and enjoying birds and their natural habitats. In fact the group members may want to further explore the topics individually or as a group and bring this information back to their next meeting for further discussions.
Rationale - To relate a bird's bill structure to its food source.
Give each student a picture of "FILL THE BILL" (SEE END OF UNIT). explain the various types of bird foods. Then, give them five minutes to place the correct bird according to its bill structure in the appropriate box. Ask the group why this bill would be appropriate for this type of food? Have them describe the bird's bill. Be ready to give the species of birds in English because there seems to always be an individual who wants to know (THE ANSWERS ARE ON THE BACK OF THE ACTIVITY SHEET).
Rationale - To reinforce material used in activity 1,2 and 3.
Have each person draw a fantasy bird on a large piece of paper big enough for everyone to see. Give them five minutes to do this and tell them that it is not important to be an artist - Everyone holds their picture up in front of the group and describes the bird (parts of its body) and it" behavior.
Rationale - To discuss human impact on birds.
Discuss how human behavior hen negatively impacted birds. Some answers are: habitat destruction, the sale of bird feathers, skins and beaks, the illegal pet trade, sport hunters, lead shot poisoning, introduced wildlife and pets that prey on birds, pesticides and pollution problems.
Then, discuss how man can help birds to survive. Again, some answers are: building nesting boxes, planting trees and shrubs for food and protection, leaving old trees for habitat, joining a birding club, educating others about birds, encouraging farmers to use organic farming techniques, sponsoring projects that support bird habitat and writing your local representatives about problems that affect habitat, such as draining wetlands and pollution problems.
Rationale - To observe birds and their behavior in the field.
Encourage the group to go into the field with you. Point out a nearby bird and describe it using the vocabulary that the students learnt. Find as many other birds as possible and repeat the process. Give them each a sheet of paper and ask them to write down a description of a bird that they see during the day, and also the time, place and its behavior. At the next meeting with your group you can use this as a review.
The parts of a bird
The parts of a bird - answer
Copycat page - fill the bill
ANSWERS: A. Swift (6), B. Snipe (2), C. Toucan (8), D. Warbler (7), E. Pelican (4), F. Hummingbird (1), G. Grosbeak (3), H. Flamingo (5).
Selected references (some from which materials were adapted):
"Birds," Massachusetts Audubon Society, Lincoln, MA 01773.
Peterson, Roger Tory, How to Know the Birds, Boston Houghton Mifflin Co., 1957.
"Ranger Rick's Nature Scope - Birds, Birds, Birds," National Wildlife Federation, 1400 16th St., N.W. Washington, DC 20036, 1985.