Monday, May 1, 2017

5.1.17  Birds Enrichment Class - Wixon Innovation Middle School
South Dennis, MA

Hooray!  We got another day to be outside together and I felt it was the perfect opportunity to introduce this bunch of bird nerds to the Migration Game.  Last time we were together, we were discussing bird field marks and exactly what that meant.  When we play this game, I start off the first round with the kids' field in, comparing their differences, though I limit the differences to shoes, clothes, hats... basically what they are wearing.  I don't point out blue eyes vs. brown eyes because most every person has some sensitivity about something they have or have not that they cannot change.  Clothing is something that changes all the time, so I stick with that.  Some of the examples:  Boots, sneakers, sandals, socks or no socks, T-shirts with logos, pants that are blue, skirts... I have the kids name different variables.  We play the first round so they understand the Migration Game.

How do all of these variables contribute to a game...?  Well, I re-familiarize the group with what migration is, why it occurs and also how some birds migrate and others do not. The act of migration is daunting at best and millions of birds do not survive.  The tiny hummingbird migrates all the way from Central America!  Think of the energy that requires!  They can't go to the store to fuel up on energy drinks... not that they'd choose them, but hummingbirds are tiny wonders of the world.  When you start to imagine the perils they face, that all migrating birds face... the world can be a scary place!  It's not easy being wildlife, and yet, they survive.  They get to their destination.  They keep fueling up and they keep making more. It's truly remarkable when you think of just how many thousands of miles birds travel on the wing.  

Back to the game... after the bird nerds went through one round of the Migration Game, only a couple of them "survived" to their destination.  I then had them each pick a bird card and we started identifying different bird field marks and choosing which species advanced closer to their destination, which took steps back depending on their traveling hard ships, and which did NOT ever make it to their destination.  It's staggering to think of all of the variables and obstacles a migrating bird faces when traveling from point A to point B.

We then got into a discussion of how we can make the birds' routes more welcoming and safe for migrants while they are on their way.  Some of their suggestions: Hang bird feeders, put out water, keep cats indoors, don't use poison on your lawn...
These are some smart bird nerds.  I think they enjoyed the game, and they learned perhaps a bit more respect for our flying friends we get to share the world with.  Well done bird nerds! (double click photos to enlarge)

Preparing to "migrate"

"Birds" sitting or lying down never made it to their destination...

Randomly choosing different migration variables,
both favorable and life-threatening

Some "migrants" made it closer to their destination than others

Materials used to point out field marks and
for selecting migrating obstacles

Happy Birding!

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