Open-and-go lessons that inspire kids to love science.

Sign up now for tons of free lessons like this one!

Animal Adventures    Mystery 3

Mystery 3 image

In this Mystery, students investigate which kinds of birds are likely to visit a bird feeder, based on what they eat. In the activity, students design and create prototypes of their own bird feeders.

How could you get more birds to visit a bird feeder?

Beginning Exploration (1 of 13)
Full Screen
Exit full screen whiteExit Full Screen
Beginning Exploration (2 of 13)

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
Exit full screen blackExit Full Screen
Beginning Exploration (3 of 13)

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
Exit full screen blackExit Full Screen
Beginning Exploration (4 of 13)

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
Exit full screen blackExit Full Screen
Beginning Exploration (5 of 13)

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
Exit full screen blackExit Full Screen
Beginning Exploration (6 of 13)
Full Screen
Exit full screen whiteExit Full Screen
Beginning Exploration (7 of 13)

DISCUSS:

How do you think this feeder works to attract hummingbirds?

Bird Feeder

Full Screen
Exit full screen blackExit Full Screen
Beginning Exploration (8 of 13)
Full Screen
Exit full screen whiteExit Full Screen
Beginning Exploration (9 of 13)
Full Screen
Exit full screen whiteExit Full Screen
Beginning Exploration (10 of 13)
Full Screen
Exit full screen whiteExit Full Screen
Beginning Exploration (11 of 13)
Full Screen
Exit full screen whiteExit Full Screen
Beginning Activity Prep
Full Screen
Exit full screen whiteExit Full Screen

Activity Prep

Each student will design a bird feeder for a specific type of bird. They will build a prototype of their bird feeder, a version that incorporates their design ideas, but may not be sturdy enough to actually put outside and use.

Step 1: Get Supplies

We encourage you to raid your recycling bin and craft box for building supplies. You can use those supplies to substitute for or supplement our list of supplies below.

Here is a list of building supplies that you can easily purchase at the store:

  • paper plates & paper cups
  • pencils/skewers
  • aluminum foil
  • tape or stickers (to be used in place of tape)
  • binder clips or clothes pins
  • pipe cleaners

In addition, students will need the following tools to share:

  • scissors
  • paper punch

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.

Step 2: Prepare Supplies

If you are using supplies that come in bulk form, consider dividing supplies for easier distribution. For instance, if you have a roll of aluminum foil, we suggest tearing off 12” squares.

Step 3: Print Worksheets and Inspiration Sheets

Print a set of My Bird Feeder Worksheets for each student.

We also created additional instructions for students who are stumped and frustrated by the task of making a bird feeder. We suggest letting students try on their own, providing these Inspiration Sheets only to those who need the help. Print as many Inspiration Sheets as you think you’ll need for your group.

Beginning Activity: Design a Bird Feeder
Full Screen
Exit full screen whiteExit Full Screen
Beginning Activity: Design a Bird Feeder
Full Screen
Exit full screen whiteExit Full Screen
Beginning Activity: Design a Bird Feeder
Full Screen
Exit full screen whiteExit Full Screen
Beginning Activity: Design a Bird Feeder
Full Screen
Exit full screen whiteExit Full Screen
Beginning Activity: Design a Bird Feeder
Full Screen
Exit full screen whiteExit Full Screen
Beginning Activity: Design a Bird Feeder
Full Screen
Exit full screen whiteExit Full Screen
Beginning Exploration (12 of 13)

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
Exit full screen blackExit Full Screen
Beginning Activity: Design a Bird Feeder
Full Screen
Exit full screen whiteExit Full Screen
Beginning Activity: Design a Bird Feeder
Full Screen
Exit full screen whiteExit Full Screen
Beginning Activity: Design a Bird Feeder
Full Screen
Exit full screen whiteExit Full Screen
Beginning Activity: Design a Bird Feeder
Full Screen
Exit full screen whiteExit Full Screen
Beginning Activity: Design a Bird Feeder
Full Screen
Exit full screen whiteExit Full Screen
Beginning Exploration (13 of 13)
Full Screen
Exit full screen whiteExit Full Screen
Beginning Complete!

You've completed the Exploration & Activity!

If you have more time, view the assessment, reading and extension activity in the optional extras.

Full Screen
Exit full screen blackExit Full Screen

Optional Extras

Below are ideas for extending this topic beyond the Exploration & Activity you just completed.
Full Screen
Exit full screen blackExit 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
Exit full screen blackExit 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
Exit full screen blackExit 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
Exit full screen blackExit Full Screen

Books Online

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

Full Screen
Exit full screen blackExit 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
Exit full screen blackExit Full Screen