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For The Birds

How well do you know our feathered friends? Get to know them better with this activity

Australian Curriculum Links

  • Science > Biological Sciences > Foundation > ACSSU002
  • Science > Biological Sciences > Year 5 > ACSSU043

You’ll need

  • Craft supplies, such as milk cartons, plastic containers, icy pole sticks, and plastic bottles
  • Short lengths of wooden dowel, disposable chopsticks or wooden spoons
  • Plastic trays, cups or bowls
  • String and/or wire
  • Access to water and outdoor hanging space

Try this

This activity is best performed in the warmer weather.

  1. Think about the birds that live in your area. What do they eat? How big are they? Design a hanging bird bath so the birds have access to water for drinking and bathing. Think about how to make it strong, safe and accessible to the local birds. Include perches so that it is easy for the birds to land on the bird bath.
  2. Record which birds visit the bird bath during the day. To help identify birds, you can download the Natural Field Guide for your state or visti Birds in Backyards . Are the birds that visit your bird bath native or introduced? Note the location of each of the bird baths.
  3. Change the water and clean the baths daily to ensure birds don’t catch diseases.

Further investigation

  • Which feeder attracted the most birds? Can you change your design to attract different birds?
  • You can share your results with others and see who visits their bird baths at the Feeding Birds website. You can also register your school online.
  • Another way to attract birds is to plant a bird friendly garden. Which birds would you like to attract and what do they need from plants?  
  • Scientists studying wildlife often use motion-triggered infrared cameras to observe wildlife at night time. These can be purchased from around $100 if you want to get serious about seeing who is visiting your bath at night.

What’s Happening?

Birds need water to drink and bathe in. They bathe to rid themselves of parasites in their feathers. Providing water during warm weather can help birds survive. Depending on the design and placement of the bird bath, you will notice that different birds visit more often. Some birds such as Currawongs, Kookaburras and Magpies might take over because they are bigger. Small birds are likely to prefer smaller feeders and to be close to shrubby plants that provide protection.

You can also do this activity with a bird feeder but there are risks to the local birds from feeding.

Further information

Birds can see ultraviolet light. Ultraviolet light is a high-energy light that we often can’t see. It is also the part of sunlight that causes our skin to burn. Birds often have markings on their wings that we can’t see.