Students select an area to map with birds in mind. They will map bird-friendly physical features, such as cavity nesting trees, food sources, sheltering trees, and water, as well as threats such as cats, pesticide-treated grass, and polluted water.
- learn how to map physical features of an area that they select to map habitat for birds; and
- identify which bird-friendly habitat features are present or missing from the mapping area.
Newsprint or Bristol board for map; crayons and pencils; clipboards and paper
Map-making is a familiar, flexible, and fun tool. Your map project may be simple or complex and can involve classroom, school, or community collaboration. Maps can be technical and precise, creative and artistic, or a combination of both.
Maps will depict a "bird’s-eye view" of an area, whether of your schoolyard, an individual's backyard, or a neighbourhood. The data gathered through maps will offer ideas about the quality of bird habitat within your mapping area and ideas about how habitat may be improved for feathered residents. Depending on the project’s scope, your students' maps could provide data to be used by community groups or agencies to create or restore habitat for birds.
- Tell students they will make a group map that will focus on how an area could be made more attractive for birds. Review habitat requirements for birds (food, water, shelter, and space in a suitable arrangement).
- Have students decide on an area to be mapped. It can be as small as a sliver of your schoolyard or as large as your neighbourhood. The scope should be reasonable for students' age levels. Familiarize young students with mapping techniques by having them map their classroom.
- Divide students into groups of four or five. Have each group brainstorm, and then present to the class, habitat elements that ought to be depicted on the map. Here are some tips to get them started:
- nesting sites (e.g., cavity nesting trees; coniferous and deciduous trees and shrubs; bird boxes);
- food sources and types of food (e.g., seed, nut, or berry producing trees and shrubs; a diversity of flowering plants that attract insects);
- water sources (e.g., natural sources, such as a river, or made by people, such as bird-baths.
- shelter (e.g., coniferous and deciduous trees and shrubs);
- landmarks (e.g., rock roosts for perching, meadows, large and small trees);
- bird species living in, or regularly seen in, your mapping area and where they were seen;
- location of lawns, gardens, and parks;
- areas under potential development; and
- dangers for birds (e.g., cats and other predators, lawns sprayed with pesticides, windows into which birds could fly).
- Have students brainstorm other ways to use the information on your bird habitat map, such as building a database of information, creating a Web site, or designing a brochure or a guide book.
- What would your map look like if your schoolyard were more bird-friendly? What steps would you need to take to create an ideal bird habitat?
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