that Help Cranes Survive
is unique (although some have close relatives) and each lives only in
certain places in the world. Some species, like some crows and gulls,
are generalists that can survive in many kinds of habitats and
eat wide variety of food. Others, like the Snail Kite in Florida, are
specialists that can only live in one particular habitat and eat
mainly one kind of food. (The Snail Kite survives by eating apple snails.)
A specialist thrives when its habitat and food source thrive, but is in
big trouble when its food source disappears.
Cranes are specialists. They migrate and nest over a broad geographical
range, but within that huge area can only live and feed in wetland habitats.
Whooping cranes depend on blue crabs for their winter diet. If the blue
crab population crashes, whooping cranes have poor breeding success the
seeing a crane for the first time could instantly guess that this bird
lives in wetlands, flies long distances without a lot of flapping, nests
on the ground, gets food from wet soil or water, and has a loud voice.
How? By understanding how the bird's body and behavior are adapted
to its habitat. (Adaptations don't happen overnight; they are slow, gradual
changes that can take hundreds of thousands of years to evolve.)
In this lesson, we'll look closely at cranes from head to toe. Remember:
There's always a WHY behind WHAT you see. So whenever you see an unusual
behavior or body part, ask yourself WHY. Students will then engage in
an activity to see what they'd need to add to their own bodies to live
these links to learn about crane adaptations!
The Match Game
most important part of a human body is the brain, which allows us to solve
a lot of problems and adapt to a lot of different environments without changing
our whole body. Let's think of some human inventions and how they could
help us live like cranes.
Inventions and Crane Adaptations
Match the crane's needs with a human invention that allows us to do what
cranes do naturally. (Print student
Crack open blue crabs
Walk in shallow lakes and rivers without getting its tummy wet
Walk on soft, goopy mud without sinking in
Hat, jacket, raincoat
Swallow great big crabs without choking
Cars, buses, trains, or airplanes
Breathe at high altitudes
Make loud "music"
Migrate long distances
Keep warm and dry in bad weather
Communicate with family over a mile away
Knife and fork
Science Education Standards
have basic needs. Organisms can survive only in environments in which
their needs can be met.
- Each plant
or animal has different structures that serve different functions in
growth, survival, reproduction.
systems at all levels of organization demonstrate the complementary
nature of structure and function.