with Neotropical Migratory Birds
for the Trip
When you go on a car trip, lots of preparation usually takes
place. How is a vacation different from a migration? Human travel and
bird migration offer fascinating similarities and differences. Birds
travel to and from the neotropics with built-in survival kits. In this
lesson, you'll explore the parallels between things humans need for travel
and the counterparts needed by birds to survive their journeys.
Important Note to Teachers:
The fun and learning value of this activity comes from the students discovering
these analogies on their own. Therefore, do not give them the chart below,
but instead let them create their own chart over time. As students learn
more about migration, see if they can draw connections back to this lesson.
A. Ask students
to think about car trips they've taken. What made a trip fun, comfortable,
and safe? What caused problems? Invite stories that illustrate
these points. Next, ask questions that spark comparisons between
bird migration and human travel, such as:
- How we each find our way?
- How we find food in an unfamiliar area?
- What do we use for fuel?
- What things we need to bring? (Have you ever traveled without a suitcase?)
- Do you need to get in shape before you go?
- Are people or birds able to anticipate conditions ahead? How?
- Have your parents ever let you travel alone? Why or why not?
- What purposes are behind bird trips and human trips?
B. Record the analogies
on a flip chart. Try and keep it available to students over a period
of time (even all year) so they can add to it.
Here is an example of a chart your class might develop:
||Magnetite in brain
||Instinct guides way
||Fatty tissue fuel
||Go without packing
|Parents lead the way
||Young travel alone
||Staging/ Stopover sites
||Crosses borders freely
|Food available 24 hours ....
||Must find or starve
|Clocks, digital watches
|Travel in almost any weather
||Waits for safe conditions
||Never heard of it!
Extensions: Talk About Incredible Journeys!
1. There are many
stories about dogs or cats finding their way over long distances to
return home. Share the stories you may have heard. What aspects of
these animals' behavior surprises you the most?
2. As a class, create
a story about some kids traveling 3,000 miles to a foreign country
with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Brainstorm some needs
they would have and how they might meet those needs. How resourceful
would they need to be to survive?
3. What are some advantages
that birds have that humans might envy? If birds could think it
through, what are some human advantages that birds might envy?