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Carolyn S. Nevin

TYPE OF ACTIVITY : Individual interdisciplinary project

TARGET AUDIENCE : Biology, Zoology, Environmental Studies


Notes for the teacher: This project was designed for students in a botany/zoology class as part of a unit on birds. Students complete most of the project outside of class, but if this is not feasible, you may choose to provide regularly scheduled class time over a period of 2 to 3 weeks. This project integrates science concepts with art, language and communication skills, bioethics, and environmental studies. It is best used in the fall or spring when students can go outside to observe birds. A field trip to see the aviary at the zoo helps to stimulate student interest. Students might also enjoy guest speakers from the local Audubon Society in your area.

Background required of students: This project is designed for students that have already had an introductory biology class. Therefore if it is used in a general biology class, students should first have been introduced to general characteristics of vertebrates. They will also need some understanding of vertebrate taxonomy and classification. Students may also need some instruction in research techniques and sources of information.

Preparation time needed: Time required to duplicate the assignment page.
Class time needed: Up to one class period to introduce and explain the assignment, to show examples, and review research procedures. Project checks every few days (about 10 minutes of class) help keep students focused on their projects. At least one class period is needed for students to make presentations when projects are completed.

Materials needed:Library materials or access to computer software or online searches, drawing materials and paper.


When you begin your unit on birds, give students some hints that an assignment is coming, and they will therefore need to pay close attention to the text material and any other information you intend to provide. Give students the handout explaining the project, and go over it with them, answering any questions they may have. (A copy of the student handout appears below.)


Ask students to share selected portions of their projects with the class. You may also choose to assign point values to each section and grade the project as a regular test. The finished projects could also be placed in the students' portfolios.


  1. Choose a bird that reminds you of yourself. Write a paragraph explaining why you chose your bird.

  2. Research your bird:
    • List the order in which your bird is classified and the common names of at least two different members of the same order. Tell what characteristics the members of the order have in common.
    • Find information about the habitat, behavior (courtship, feeding patterns, nesting, etc.), and any other features about your bird that you think are interesting. Put this information together in a 2-page report.

  3. Find an article in a wildlife or nature magazine that deals with an endangered or threatened species of bird. The article could be about "your bird" if you like, or you may choose another bird that interests you. Write a one-two page summary/reaction of this article. Be sure to include the name of the article, the author,the page where the article is found, the magazine name, and the date of issue.

  4. Find and copy at least three poems about birds. Be sure to include the author of the poem and the date (approximate) that the poem was written. Explain in a few sentences how each poem illustrates man's connectedness to birds and all other living things. You could accomplish this by first describing the tone, mood, or theme of your selected poems.

NOTE: For extra credit, you may also compose an original poem.

Make a detailed pencil or pen-and-ink sketch or a colored drawing of your chosen bird. You may use another medium with prior teacher approval.

Assemble Parts I-V of this assignment in a folder, or clip all pages together. Be prepared to present any one section of your project to the class.

The project is due on ____________________.

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