Lesson Plan: Feathers and Flight, a lesson on birding

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A Middle School Lesson:

A four part lesson designed for students to learn how to identify birds through calls and physical differences while contributing their observations to citizen science initiatives such as WyoBio or International Migratory Bird Day project and critically think about bird adaptations to their environment.

Note: Though this was designed for middle schoolers it can be quickly adapted for a wide range of students by adding more adaptation research and ecological system studies for higher level students or more basic identification requirements for younger ones.  

Essential Question:

What birds live in our local ecosystem? And what can they teach us about species adaptations?


At the end of this lesson students will be able to;

  • distinguish the major classifications of birds and the characteristics of related birds.
  • recognize some bird songs of common Wyoming species and the importance and differences between songs and birds.
  • locate and identify common species present in your local region.
  • Create their own bird species, identifying adaptations for specific environmental needs.

Assessment Opportunities:

At the end of this lesson you will be able to assess students through their field notes and entries into a larger citizen science database as well as their species creations.

Performance Expectations: Next Generation Science Standards


Use argument based on emperical evidence and scienctific reasoning to support an explanation for how characterisitic animal behaviors and specialized plant structures affect the probility of successful reproduction of animals and plants respectfully.

Disciplinary Core Ideas: Next Generation Science Standards

MS.LS4.C Adaptation

Adaptation by natural selection acting over generations is one important process by which species change over time in response to changes in environmental conditions.  Traits that support successful survival and reproduction in the new environment become more common; those that do not become less. Thus the distribution of traits in a population changes.

MS.LS1.B Growth and Development of Organisms

Animals engage in characteristic behaviors that increase the odds of reproduction.

Wyoming State Standards:

SC8.1.4: Diversity of Organisms

Students investigate the interconnectedness of organisms, identify similarity and diversity of organisms through a classification system or hierarchal relationships and structural homologies.

SC8.1.5 Behavior and Adaptation

Students recognize behavior as a response of an organism to an internal or environmental stimulus and connect the characteristics and behaviors of an organism to biological adaption. 


Lesson design: Lee McCoy