By Bethany Kempster, The Royal Ontario Museum
With the ground covered in snow and ice, and many of our plants and animals sleeping or visiting warmer climates, our minds might not be focused on the incredible biodiversity found in our province (even in the dead of winter).
One type of animal that becomes easier to observe in the winter are our resident birds. With the leaves off the trees and the constant back-and-forth from our bird feeders, birds become one of the biodiversity delights for the Ontario backyard naturalist.
Whether they live in rural, suburban, or urban communities, children are exposed year-round to a diversity of bird species. But how many of the birds that they encounter can they name? Birds are a logical starting point when introducing children to Ontario’s biodiversity as they are active, vocal, often brightly coloured, and display a range of interesting behaviours. Globally, there are over 10 000 identified bird species, but don’t let this overwhelm you and your students!
BEAN has developed a new lesson plan for students in grades 4 and 6 to develop your young students into young birders. Students will explore bird classification by sorting and categorizing birds, and use the free Cornell Lab Merlin Bird ID app to support bird identification. Students will then have the chance to assess biodiversity in different habitats, design bird feeders to appeal to a specific species, and participate in a citizen science program