- learn that Canada is made up of many areas that have different characteristics; and
- become familiar with some bird species that live in these areas and why.
Students will research different areas of Canada and become familiar with some species of birds that these areas support.
research materials such as the Internet and books about birds; a map of Canada’s 15 terrestrial ecozones (visit www.hww.ca)
Different birds are attracted to different habitats to fill their survival needs. Some species have huge ranges because they are quite adaptable and are able to find food, water, nesting spots, and spaces that suit them in many Canadian habitats. The American crow, for instance, eats just about anything and makes itself at home in deep forests, city garbage dumps, and everything in between. As a result, its geographical range is huge. Meanwhile, some species have very specific requirements. Because their habitat choices are limited, their ranges are much smaller. Bluebirds are one example. They probably were never common in Canada because of their nesting requirements. Although they prefer open grasslands with few trees, they need tree cavities to nest. During the early 1900s thousands of hectares of bluebird habitat were denuded of trees for farms. Then intruders from other countries, such as European starlings and house sparrows, pushed bluebirds out of the few remaining nest sites. The number of bluebirds declined until they were close to vanishing. During the 1920s, bird lovers across North America began building nest boxes designed especially for bluebirds—resulting in an encouraging upswing for the species.
In this activity, students will become familiar with some birds that live in six different areas of Canada that include the 15 terrestrial ecozones of Canada. (Ecozones are distinctive areas throughout which similar characteristics prevail.) The six areas include the:
- Arctic (consisting of the Arctic and Taiga cordilleras, and the southern and northern Arctic ecozones), which draws thousands of migrant birds to breed, nest, and raise young;
- Pacific maritime and mountain area (which includes the Pacific maritime and montane cordillera ecozones) that provides critical habitat for countless waterfowl and migrating shorebirds;
- Prairie ecozone, where more than half of all North American ducks are born and major nesting grounds for migratory waterfowl are found;
- Boreal forest region (consisting of the Taiga plains and shield; the Boreal cordillera, plains, and shield; and the Hudson plains ecozones) where about 60 percent of all Canadian landbirds breed;
- Mixedwood plains ecozone, which includes the Carolinian zone, Canada’s southernmost zone, where wildlife species that are common in the Carolinas and the Mississippi Basin are found (and where roughly 20 percent of all Canadians live); and
- Atlantic maritime ecozone, where tens of thousands of shore and migrating birds feed on Bay of Fundy tidal flats.
- Explain that there is a diversity of ecozones in Canada—15 major ones. For this activity, we have divided Canada into six different areas, as identified in the background section above. Tell students they will become familiar with these areas, as well as some of their avian residents.
- Remind students that each area offers a different selection and arrangement of food, water, shelter, nesting spots, and space that appeal to a variety of bird and other wildlife species.
- Divide the class into six groups and assign an area to each group.
- Provide each group with a list of six bird species that are typically found within its area (a suggested list of birds is provided below). NOTE: Some species of birds may be found in more than one area.
- Ask each group to research its birds and its area. Which species of birds migrate and which ones do not? Are any of the species of birds in peril (consult the Web site of the Committee of the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada)? If so, why are they in trouble? Are their ranges large or small? Which species live in other areas of Canada?
- Have each group list features of its area that are attractive to resident birds.
- Ask each group to make a presentation to the class about the birds of their area.
Play the Backyard Bird card game.
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