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Teaching Suggestions
Fueling Migration: How Hummers Keep Their Engines Running!
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Darting from flower to flower, hovering near feeders, and migrating long distances, hummingbirds use a lot of energy. They burn energy so fast that they need to eat 1.5 to 3 times their weight in food each day. Use the activities and resources in this guide to explore how hummingbirds find the food they need.

Essential Question:
How do hummingbirds get the energy they need to keep their engines running and to fuel up for a long migration?


slide show


Before Reading

1. Play the audio clip on page one of the slideshow before reading the text with students. Ask students to predict how the hummingbird makes the sound they hear. Read the first page together and listen to the sound of the hummingbird wings in the audio clip again.

2. Read aloud the title of the slideshow and display images from the photo gallery. As students think about the title and scan through the images, encourage them to make predictions and ask questions. Challenge them to make a list of verbs (action words) to describe what the hummingbirds are doing in each photo.


Audio Clip


photo galleryPhoto Gallery

Reading the Text

Viewing the Slideshow
As a class read through the pages of the slideshow together, stopping occasionally to spotlight key ideas and ask questions. Encourage students to share questions sparked by the information and images.

Reading the Booklet
Determine how you will have students experience the booklet text for a first reading: whole class, small group, partner, or individual. Encourage students to take notes or mark up the text--underlining key ideas and making notes in the margins.


After Reading
1. Recall Challenge:
Place students in small groups and distribute the Headlines Handout. Have each group work together to summarize facts from the slideshow for each headline listed on the sheet. After paraphrasing the facts they remember, encourage each group to use the text-only version of the slideshow to assess how many facts they were able to recall.
2. Summarize the Facts: Fact Book
Have students use the photo gallery images to create their own fact book, using information they learned about hummingbirds, food, and survival.




Wrap Up

1. Outdoor Observations
Take the class outside to identify where hummingbirds might be able to find nectar, insects, spiders, and tree sap. Encourage students to draw and write about the places they find in a field notebook.

2. Food Energy Research

Challenge students to learn more about food energy by posing intriquing questions: How do the foods we eat become energy? Why is eating high-energy foods important? What food choices give you the energy you need each day? What kinds of food are high energy fuels? What food choices are "fizzle fuels"--foods that are a quick source of energy but that spurt of energy fizzles quickly? How much food do humans need to keep our engines running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year?

Other links to explore:

  • Learn about how hummingbirds also help their partners, the sapsuckers!
  • Discover how brainy hummers are when it comes to remembering where to get the best food!
  • Observe the flowers that fuel migration and predict what they are a good "fit" for hummingbirds!

3. Take it Live: Track Hummingbirds' Spring Migration With Journey North
As hummingbirds spread throughout their breeding range, continue to predict when and where they will travel.



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