Bird study

Bird watching

Bird study
Learning outcome

To recognise species using identifiable features and match them to a key.

Key Stubbington focus

Environment - Birds

  • For Key Stage 2
  • Duration 1 hour
Success criteria
  • I can suggest features that may be different for each bird
  • I can use reference material to name the bird
  • I can record, in an organised way, what I have seen
Session plan

Introduction: 20 minutes

Tell the children they are going to be "ornithologists" and will be studying the birds at Stubbington.

Show the class 2 or 3 stuffed birds e.g. the Snipe, the Mallard and the Kestrel.

Ask the children to think about birds and propose six identifiable features of a bird, i.e. six things that vary between bird species:

  1. plumage
  2. size/shape
  3. feet/legs
  4. beak
  5. song
  6. flight

Put all on board.

It is worth mentioning that all these adaptations enable the bird to survive and find food in different habitats.

Main: 25 minutes

Tell the children that in a few minutes they will be going to the Hide to identify the birds.

To help them, they can use the Common Birds sheet (this will show them Nos.1-4 above).

They will have to record the birds they see, in their own way, to identify the most common species.

They will also have a monocular each to help them - discuss use.

Discuss tips for successful bird watching, e.g. keep quiet and still.

Put children into pairs. Each pair should have

  • Pencil/pen
  • Common Birds sheet
  • Paper and clipboards
  • Monoculars

Make way out to the hide.

Tell the children they are going to do an experiment to find out food preferences. You are going to put out three types of food (e.g. peanuts, wild bird seeds, moist bread). They must record, on their sheet, what birds they see and what food they eat.

After 15-20 minutes, ask the children

"What is the birds' favourite food?" Discuss if this is a "fair" test.

Some reasons why this is not fair could be:

  • we haven't put out all types of food
  • we haven't seen all the types of birds
  • location of food could affect result, e.g. if close to bush, etc.

"What is the most common bird at Stubbington?" Discuss if this is "fair".

Some reasons why this is not fair could be:

  • we have only observed one area of the grounds
  • different birds might come out at different times of day
  • other birds may not be attracted by food we put out, etc.

Send the children out in pairs to record all birds they see in other areas of our grounds. Encourage them to use their ears to locate birds and think about where they might be.

If time allows, return to classroom and collate results. (10mins)


Return to classroom and collate results.

Less able children

Fair test discussion entirely verbal.

More able children

Explanation and examples of fair test written on sheet.

Previsit activities

Discussion of what makes a fair test.

Follow up activities

  • Repeat in school, is it different?
  • Design a fair test
Health and safety checks
  • Allergies – in particular nuts and seeds. Be aware of any children this may affect
  • Make sure children do not use monoculars while walking and do not look directly at the sun
  • Be aware of moving around the grounds – looking out for ponds, ditches and branches