Science ideas for preschoolers – Part 4: Baby birds

Teach young children about birds and how they can be “citizen scientists.”

This is the fourth in a series of articles on science activities about the natural world that anyone can conduct with preschoolers. This can be done within a family, in a day-care setting, as part of school activities or with any group working with preschoolers.

Young children appreciate seeing birds in the landscape. They like to follow young birds as they learn to fly, listen to their songs and watch them hunt for food in their yards.

A great resource for anything related to birds is Cornell University. Their Bird Guide has information on every bird in North America. If the young people you work with want to know what bird is singing, you can also listen to every bird call on that website. This helps children focus on sound rather than just visual. Using all of our senses is integral to science.

Top 10 most interesting bird calls:

  1. Bald Eagle
    Most of the time when you see a bald eagle soaring majestically over a landscape in a movie, they do not play the bald eagle’s call, but rather a red-tailed hawk.
  2. Barn Owl
    This is a very frightening hissing sound. When you play this sound, watch your cat run and hide.
  3. Common Loon
    This is a very haunting sound.
  4. Black-capped Chickadee
    Chick-a-dee-dee-dee - this bird says its name.
  5. Blue Jay
    This bird-feeder seed-stealer has a call like a rusty screen door.
  6. Killdeer
    This bird has a very distinctive call, and can often be found near driveways, playgrounds and on flat-roofed buildings.
  7. Northern Cardinal
    This favorite bright spot at a winter feeder sounds like “birdie-birdie-birdie.”
  8. Sandhill Crane
    This bird returning is a surer sign of spring than the robin, who sometimes hangs around all winter.
  9. Ruffed Grouse
    The drumming of the males on a stump can be heard for miles. This isn’t really a song per se, but it is fun to hear in the woods.
  10. Whip-poor-will
    This long up-and-down song has been highlighted in poetry and song.

Another project that young people can become involved with is Project NestWatch. Project NestWatch is an international program that asks volunteers to track bird nests in their area and report the results. This information is shared with scientists who can use the data to monitor the health of birds around the world.

For more ideas on teaching science to preschoolers, see these articles:

Science ideas for preschoolers – Part 1: Stream table science

Science ideas for preschoolers – Part 2: Race through the dirt

Science ideas for preschoolers – Part 3: Rock ‘n roll frogs

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