Monday, February 21, 2011

Portals to birds...And what do the birds eat? Where do they live? Are the trees and fields by you still there or are they gone?

Here are some portals to birds on different continents:

Links from

North America
Middle and South America
Europe, Africa
List Archives Index
Rare Bird Alerts

Protein Science: Research is fun!

Proteins are present in all living things, [...] plants, bacteria, and viruses[, fungi, and animals].

Here is the portal to a game about protein folding.
What is protein folding?
Why is this game important?
News Articles about Foldit
Proteins are a part of science standards on many states. Can you guess why? Write down your guess, then, do some reading or play the game and see if you can back-up your prediction.

You can link to other information on specific proteins from the game website. For example,, is a link to proteins related to Alzheimer's.

What do you know about proteins already? How do you know that? Have you done any laboratory activities or experiments on or with proteins?

for competitions on proteins.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

More on Birds, Birds and Science Literacy; Birds and Winter Classroom Projects, Birds across the Curriculum

A number of people visiting this blog like birds and have asked for more on birds. I came across this link to Bent's Birds and thought you would like it:

Remember that birds live in habitats and rely on plants for food directly or indirectly. How can you use a link like this one to:

* Increase reading in the sciences?
* Bridge to journal articles?
* Link to botany from ornithology?
* Engage students in science?
* Have the birds outside spark interest in science?

During the Winter months, as snow whitewashes the fields and trees, birds provide reds and blues, yellows and browns, blacks and greys, a myriad of colors against the white snow.

Increase Reading in the Sciences
Look for other sites with reading levels or languages more appropriate to your students' levels and languages, or, with bird pictures and sounds. For example, the Cornell website for more ideas on what birds look like, their habitats, and on data for research that you can help gather. Cornell (Lab of Ornithology)

The Chipper Woods Bird Observatory is another link which offers information and bird education in both English and Spanish. You can find information at this site on various current topics on birds, There are videos and photos. Try this section: as an example. Also visit the educational resources such as the, "Kid's Page," You can also learn about their banded birds and publications:

Find banded birds Information and Publications at: and

The Smithsonian has many areas of interest but some related to the current blog post include: for science education resources, for botany collections, research and information, for pictures of plants, and... specifically for grass family (Poaceae) pictures, and, of course, a link on, "birds:"

Bridge to Journal Articles

In Bent's Birds, mention of various ornithologist can be found. How can these be used to link to today's technical literature? Has anyone cited these researchers? Let students use old sources and teach them how to bridge up to current sources and to refereed journal articles.
(This is my Reach Reading TM Technique.)

Here is a quote from Bent's Birds, "Out of 602 nests studied by Stoddard (1931) and his associates, 97 were in woodland, 336 in broom-sedge fields, 88 in fallow fields, and "about 4 percent in cultivated fields, but occasionally under trash cast aside by plows or cultivators." In the few cases where nest construction was under observation the work was done entirely by the male under the supervision of his mate." See how Stoddard is referenced? Let's see if we can find anything else by Stoddard. Search electronically. Initially we find:

This reference cites:
Leon Neel, with Paul S. Sutter and Albert G. Way, The Art of Managing Longleaf: A Personal History of the Stoddard-Neel Approach (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2010).
Which has many recent applications of Stoddards work on Bobwhite quail as relates to fire in forests. See this paragraph as an example:

Nest Success and Post-Burn Vegetation

Although bobwhite nests are consumed during prescribed fire, several studies have evaluated nesting success in post-fire vegetative conditions.Carter et al. (2002) reports on nesting success in the Edwards Plateau region of central Texas in areas that were either burned (148 to 702 acres) or unburned (areas surrounding burned treatments). Areas were burned in January and February of two years, and nest success was monitored in the following breeding season. Carter et al. (2002) reported no significant differences in nest success between burned and unburned areas. Hernández et al. (2003) came to similar conclusions for bobwhites in the Rolling Plains and Cross Timbers regions of western Texas. Folk and Grand (in preparation) investigated variation in nest survival with respect to whether areas were burned during the growing or dormant season and time since last burn. This study was conducted in longleaf pine forests in southern Alabama and failed to demonstrate a relationship between nest survival and temporal aspects of prescribed fire. Dimmick (1972) also failed to find a difference in nest success between burned and unburned areas in old-field habitats of Tennessee. While some of the studies mentioned had small sample sizes, all are consistent in failing to demonstrate a reduction in nest success due to an attribute of prescribed fire.

(Source: Accessed 02-10-11)

So, we are getting into a little bit more recent literature citing Stoddard. Let's try some more.
Here's one that you can find on JStor:

The article starts, "Northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) and scaled quail (Callipepla squamata) populations have declined throughout most of their distribution, and these declines have become more dramatic in recent years. In this review, we examine the role of predation in quail management."

Source: Impacts of Predation on Northern Bobwhite and Scaled Quail byDale Rollins and John P. Carroll, written in the Wildlife Society Bulletin, Vol. 29, No. 1 (Spring, 2001), pp. 39-51 and published by the Allen Press Stable URL: Society Bulletin © 2001 Allen Press.

---Under development---

More links on birds of interest can be found at the following link:

Bridge to Journal Articles

Link to Botany from Ornithology
Here is a quote, "Henslow's Sparrows provide an economic benefit by consuming large numbers of crickets, beetles, caterpillars, ants and other insect pests. They also consume seeds of weeds, grasses, and sedges," on Henslow's sparrows (Source:, Accessed February 10, 2011). Note that the quote mentions weeds, grasses and sedges, among other organisms. This is a way to link botany to the interest a student is developing in birds. A Google Chrome search can provide a pageful of links joining Henslow's+sparrows+sedge+and +weeds+and+grassess+food. This one, wild/ gnb.pdf, discusses the Prairie habitat and birds and identifies plants in that habitat:

little bluestem,
eastern gama, and
Indiangrass,and native cool season grassses such as
green needlegrass,
wheatgrass, and
side-oats gram.

Engage Students in Science
Students get engaged in science when something piques their interest. For example, when you have just called everything that got mowed down, "grass," it can be quite stimulating to study grasses further. It is enlightening for some students to learn that there is more than one type of grass. Here is a list of many kinds of grasses with the Latin and common names given:

  • Students could create posters of grasses that a particular bird needs for habitat and food.

  • Students could design a prairie restoration.

  • Students could evaluate fields to see what grasses are there.

  • Students could write a song about all the prairie grasses, or, "Gone prairie grasses."

Have the Birds Outside spark an Interest in Science

(c) 2011 J S Shipman
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