How could you get more birds to visit a bird feeder?
Scroll for prep
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen

DISCUSS (1 of 4):

Do you think this bird would come to the feeder? Why or why not? Hint: Think about what the bird would like to eat.

American Goldfinch

Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen

DISCUSS (2 of 4):

Do you think this bird would come to the feeder? Why or why not? Hint: Think about what the bird would like to eat.

Red-headed Woodpecker

Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen

DISCUSS (3 of 4):

Do you think this bird would come to the feeder? Why or why not? Hint: Think about what the bird would like to eat.

Wood Duck

Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen

DISCUSS (4 of 4):

Do you think this bird would come to the feeder? Why or why not? Hint: Think about what the bird would like to eat.

Hawk

Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen

DISCUSS:

How do you think this feeder works to attract hummingbirds?

Bird Feeder

Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen

TEACHERS — NEED A NATURAL STOPPING POINT?

Building a prototype bird feeder can take up to 30 more minutes if your class is enthusiastic.

If your time is limited, this is a natural stopping point. You can have students write their names on their worksheets and collect them. You can then build the prototype bird feeders and complete the worksheet during your next science class.

Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Slide Image
Anchor Connection Discuss. Look at the "Wonder" column of your class See-Think-Wonder chart. Have any questions been answered by the past lesson?
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Slide Image
Step
01/11
In the past lesson, you designed a feeder with a place for birds to land and rest. Discuss. What is different about how each bird rests on each of these feeders?
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Slide Image
Step
02/11
Different birds land and rest in different ways. But what about bats? Bats are not birds. They are mammals. But they need to land and rest, too!
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Slide Image
Step
03/11
Discuss. You know that the bats fly in and out of Bracken Cave. Where do you think they land and rest in the cave when they aren’t flying?
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Step
04/11
The scientists only go in the cave when most of the bats are gone. It is almost empty right now. But one scientist will show us where one bat is resting in the cave.
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Slide Image
Step
05/11
Bats rest on the ceiling of the cave. They hang upside down by their feet! Discuss. How do you think the bats get on the ceiling of the cave?
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Step
06/11
Scientists wanted to see how bats get on the ceiling. They made a special white room with a smooth ceiling. Press play to watch this bat look for a place to rest.
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Step
07/11
The bat doesn’t have anything to grab on to, but it can fly away safely. Click play to watch the bat again!
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Slide Image
Step
08/11
Can you help this bat and design a place for it to land and rest? Remember: the bat will fly up from the bottom and hang upside down. It needs something small for its toes to grab on to.
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Slide Image
Step
09/11
Get a Bat Rest Stop sheet. Write your name and that this is Design
Number 1.
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Slide Image
Step
10/11
Can you design a place for a bat to rest? Imagine you can use the
same materials as the bird feeders. But remember: you’re just
designing a rest stop, not a feeder.
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Slide Image
Step
11/11
Share your design with your classmates. How are your designs the
same? How are they different? If you like, you can get a new sheet
and come up with new designs.
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen

Extensions

Below are ideas for extending this topic beyond the Exploration & Activity you just completed.
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen

Discuss: How to Attract Birds

Adding a bird feeder is one way to attract birds. Are there other ways to make a place more attractive to birds? Think about:

  • Plants that provide the birds with food and shelter
  • Sources of water that birds can drink or bathe in
  • Places where birds can hide and sleep

This article from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology will give you many ideas. If you have a school garden, this discussion could even lead to a project you carry out as a class!

Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen

Activity: Feed the Birds

Celebrate Urban Birds project provides great advice on bird feeders. If you’re feeling crafty, they provide instructions for making DIY feeders. If you don’t have time to make a feeder, consider one that sticks to the window with suction cups, like this one.

What kinds of birds are you likely to see at your feeder? Check out this list of common feeder birds, cross referenced by where they live and what they like to eat.

And if you get stumped and can’t tell a crow from a raven or a finch from a sparrow, you aren’t alone. This these tricky bird identification tips will help!

Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen

Readings

These Common-Core-aligned readings are free with registration on ReadWorks. All readings include comprehension questions.

  • Martin's Birdhouse: Encourage your beginning designers with this story about how drawing pictures helps two friends build a birdhouse. (Grade 2)

  • This set of articles will help beginning readers learn more about birds. (Grade 1)

Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen

Books Online

Unite for Literacy provides online books with audio in English and Spanish.

Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen

Videos: Hungry Birds Are Everywhere

See what birds are grabbing for a snack right now at the Wild Birds Unlimited feeder in Ithaca, New York. Below the live feed, you can check out past visitors to the feeder.

Watch toucans and other tropical birds munch on fruit at the Panama Fruit Feeder Cam.

Check out the hummingbirds visiting a feeder at the Tandayapa Bird Lodge in northwest Ecuador.

Food isn’t the only thing that will attract birds. Take a look at who visits this backyard bird bath. How many different kinds of birds do you count?

Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Print Prep
Activity Prep

In this lesson, students investigate which kinds of birds are likely to visit a bird feeder based on what they eat. In the activity, Design a Bird Feeder, students first draw their own bird feeder design to attract a specific type of bird. Then they build a prototype of their bird feeder using available materials.

Preview activity

COVID-19 Adaptations
Students can work solo
Digital worksheets available

Students at home
Students need the supplies listed below, or you can have them look in the recycling bin at home for materials to build a bird feeder. Students also need the My Birdfeeder worksheet (printed or digital).
Number of students:
Bird Feeder Inspiration worksheet 1 per group
My Bird Feeder worksheet 1 per student
Paper Hole Punch
A useful supply for making bird feeders, but if you don't have one, that's okay!
Details
1 paper punch per class
Scissors
1 pair per student
Aluminum Foil
6" per student
Dot Stickers
We prefer stickers because they are easier to distribute in a classroom. Tape will also work.
Details
8 stickers per student
Paper Cups (8 oz)
1 cup per student
Paper Plates
1 plate per student
Pipe Cleaners
2 pipe cleaners per student
Skewers
Sharpened pencils will also work.
Details
1 skewer per student
Small Binder Clips (3/4")
Clothespins will also work.
Details
1 clip per student
Prep Instructions

Each student will create their own bird feeder, but we suggest students work in pairs to share ideas. Homeschool students can work on their own.

Plan Your Time

Part 1 (designing a bird feeder) takes 15 to 20 minutes. Part 2 (building the prototype) can take up to 30 minutes.

You may want to divide this lesson into two sessions, stopping after Part 1 and continuing with Part 2 at a later point. If you plan to do the activity in two sessions, building the bird feeder begins at Step 7.

Check the Recycling Bin

We encourage you to raid your recycling bin for building supplies. You can use materials you find there to substitute or supplement our list of supplies.

Prepare Aluminum Foil and Dot Stickers

Tear aluminum foil into 6” squares so that you have enough for each student.

We suggest providing each student with 8 dot stickers. You can divide these up before class for easier distribution.

Buy Some Bird Seed (Optional)

If you would like to add bird seed to students’ prototype feeders, you'll need to buy a bag. Be warned: spilled bird seed can be messy. Student prototype bird feeders may not be sturdy enough to actually put outside and use.


Engineering Teacher Tip

We created the Bird Feeder Inspiration printout for students who may be stumped or frustrated by the task of making a bird feeder. We suggest letting students first try to come up with ideas on their own, providing these Inspiration printouts only to those who need extra guidance.

Extensions
Download this Lesson to your device so you can play it offline: