Bird Migration Lesson Plan

Instructor: Julie Zundel

Julie has taught high school Zoology, Biology, Physical Science and Chem Tech. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Education.

Bird migration is a fascinating and fun topic that lends itself to related topics, such as animal adaptations. This lesson plan gives students the bird migration basics through a short reading then allows them to track a migrating bird using satellite data.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Define and use the terms 'migration,' 'offspring' and 'predator'
  • Explain why birds migrate
  • List some migratory bird species
  • Describe the journey of one (or more) species of birds and explain some challenges the bird(s) experiences


  • Discussion, reading and notes: 60 minutes
  • Bird tracking activity (depending on data obtained): 60-70 minutes


  • Copies of the text lesson, Bird Migration Lesson For Kids, one for each student
  • Crayons and markers
  • Copies of the quiz, one for each student
  • Images of migratory birds (arctic tern, great snipe and penguin)
  • Satellite tracking data for several bird species
    • This data can be obtained on the internet with searches such as: 'radio telemetry' and 'satellite tracking of birds.'
  • Copies of a small map of North America (or a map that covers the migration patterns of the bird selected for your activity)

Curriculum Standards


Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.


Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.


Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words or phrases in a text relevant to a grade 4 topic or subject area.


Warm-Up and Lesson

  • Begin the class by posing the following questions:
    • What is migration?
    • There are a lot of risks associated with migrating: energy use, predation, weather. What are the upsides?
    • Can you think of any animals that migrate?
  • Students can work in teams to answer the questions, then have them share their answers (right or wrong) with the class.
  • Hand out the lesson, Bird Migration Lesson For Kids, and have students prepare a sheet for note taking.
    • Suggestions for the note sheet: Divide the paper into three parts, 'What is Migration,' 'Food' and 'Babies.'
  • Introduce the topic of bird migration with some fun facts:
    • The arctic tern flies nearly 50,000 miles each year. (Show the image of an arctic tern.)
    • Around 40% of bird species migrate.
    • The great snipe can travel at speeds of 60 mph. (Show the image of the great snipe.)
    • 7 million birds die each year by hitting radio/TV towers.
    • There are birds that migrate that don't fly. (Show the penguin image.)
  • Begin reading the text lesson as a class, and stop periodically so that students can fill in each section of their notes. Students can use the crayons and markers to draw an image to go with each section in order to personalize their notes.

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