Take a “Field Trip” to the Delta

Picture a Great Egret, its s-shaped neck craning upward, its large wings splashed with the orange rays of the fading sun. Suddenly he leaves the marshy ground for the sky above, flying over the waves which crash against a strip of sand where Spotted Sandpipers are digging for food with their beaks. American Coots gather closely together in the water to brave the waves like toy sailboats. Observing this scene carefully are the sharp eyes of a Red-tailed Hawk perched comfortably on a dead tree branch. While this may sound like an ornithologists’ dream, it is a very real place: the Mississippi River Delta.

The Mississippi River Delta is home to one of the most unique and important ecosystems in the United States, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s video, “Birds of the Mississippi River Delta,” narrated by Cornell Lab’s Director John Fitzpatrick, will take you and your class from shore to shore in an experience that is both breathtaking, and educational!

After watching the video (10 minutes), reflect with your students and take some time to discuss:

  1. Habitat: A habitat provides the food, water, cover, and space that an animal needs to survive. How does the Mississippi Delta provide these things for the birds that live there? What is so special about the barrier island habitat for nesting birds? You can also use the October lesson in our free Feathered Friends download.
  2. Adaptations and Diversity: What different kinds of beaks do you see in this video? How are these beaks adapted for different birds’ diets? How are the legs of birds different, and how do these differences allow specific species to survive? Sketch various birds and describe why they might have the body parts that they do. You can also use the January lesson in “Feathered Friends” or read “Beaks” from our Books & Activities page.
  3. foodchainFood Chain: Draw a food chain including a bird that is found in the video. Be sure to start with the sun and end with a decomposer, like the one below! You may need to do some research on what the bird eats, and what might eat it.
  4. Go Local: Don’t forget to appreciate the birds in your local habitats. Consider taking your students on a “schoolyard” field trip!  After your trip, compare and contrast your local ecosystem with that of the Mississippi River Delta. Go back and discuss 1 through 3. How did students’ responses change?

Below is a list of some of the wonderful birds found in the video:

Share your experience with us in the comments section!

One Comment

  1. Pingback: 10 Bird Learning Activities for Kids

Post A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *