A Manual of Bird Study A Description of Twenty-Five Local Birds with Study Options
A MANUAL OF BIRD STUDY
A Description of
Twenty-five Local Birds with Study Outlines
WILLIAM H. CARR
Assistant Curator, Department of Education
School Service Series—Number One
Third Edition, March, 1934
Department of Education
American Museum of Natural History
77th Street and Central Park West
New York City
CIRCULATING NATURE COLLECTIONS OF BIRDS IN THE AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
This Bird Study Manual is intended especially for the use ofteachers and pupils in the New York City Schools. It is writtenprimarily to describe the birds contained in the circulating naturestudy collections which the American Museum of Natural Historyloans to public schools. However it may be used as a generalguide to bird study as well. The various study outlines tellthe story of different projects that may be developed in connectionwith birds. Typical birds are illustrated. As much as is possiblein the life history of each bird is given. The bird poems may beused in connection with the study of English. The study of birdsmay very well be correlated with the studies of many other subjectssuch as Civics, Geography and other topics.
The purpose of the loan collections of birds and other animals inthe American Museum of Natural History is to place in the handsof teachers good material for classroom instruction, At the sametime authoritative data is given with each collection. These loancollections are available for any teacher in any school in GreaterNew York.
The method of obtaining these collections has been made thesimplest possible as far as the teachers are concerned. At leastonce a year (in September), and sometimes twice a year, a returnpostal card is mailed to every school principal in the City system,All that the principal has to do to obtain the collections is toindicate by numerals the sequence in which he wants the collectionsdelivered, signing his name and school number. The Museummessengers will then deliver the collections, and call forthem, without any more effort on the part of the schools. Theentire cost of this service is borne by the Museum.
Teachers are urged, whenever possible, to bring their classes tothe American Museum of Natural History, at 77th Street andCentral Park West, to take advantage of the opportunities forfurther study that are offered. In the many halls of birds andanimals, the home life and the general habitat of the creatures aregiven in detail. There is a free guide service for teachers andpupils. Also there are classes for school children held in the new2School Service Building. In fact, the wealth of natural historystudy material is always there, available in many ways for the useof all who desire to further their knowledge of the animals of theout-of-doors.
Applications for these collections and for further informationshould be addressed to The American Museum of Natural History,77th Street and Central Park West, New York City.George H. Sherwood, Curator-in-ChiefDepartment of Public Education
The American Museum of Natural History has five collectionsof birds to lend to Public Schools. These five are:
The Bluebird Set
Bluebird—Phoebe—Barn Swallow—House Wren—Chimney Swift.
The Owl Set
Chickadee—Nuthatch—Song Sparrow—Screech Owl—Kinglet.
The Robin Set
Robin—Red-winged Blackbird—Baltimore Oriole—Chipping Sparrow—Meadowlark.
The Blue Jay Set
Blue Jay—Downy Woodpeckcr—Starling—Junco—English Sparrow—Crossbill.
The Scarlet Tanager Set
Scarlet Tanager—Red-eyed Vireo—Goldfinch—Hummingbird—Pigeon.
Other Types of Loan Collections That May be Secured Are:
Insects—Sponges and Corals—Crustaceans—Minerals and Rocks—Native Woods—Starfishes and Worms—Mollusks.
SUGGESTIONS FOR TEACHERS
It is sometimes helpful to study birds by the “Question andAnswer” method. The following questions are written to suggestothers of a similar nature.
What is a Bird? A bird is an animal that has feathers. No otheranimal has feathers.
A “CITY” OF STRANGE BIRDS
Some of the brightest spots in childhood areconnected with a vague realization of thebeauty and mystery of the world.
THE ORDER POSTCARD
Requisitioning the service has been simplifiedto the nth degree. All that a principal needsto do to obtain the collections is to indicateby numerals the sequence in which hewants them delivered.
What are Feathers Used For? Feathers help to keep the birdwarm. With the aid of feathers the bird flies.
What Other Creature is Able to Fly Without the Aid ofFeathers? The bat can fly upon wings of thin skin.
What are the Names of Some Birds that are Noted forTheir Ability to Swim, Fly, Creep, and Walk? The BaldEagle and the Condor are both birds that are very strongfliers. Can you name any others? The ducks are at homein the water. Can you name any other birds that are ableto swim with ease? The little Brown Creeper and manyother birds are very happy in their ability to creep up and toclimb trees. The Chicken and the Partridge are both excellentwalkers. Name some other birds that walk.
What Birds Help the Trees to Live by Killing HarmfulInsects? The Woodpeckers help the trees in this way.Name some other birds that find food upon the trunks of trees.
What May we Attempt to do to Protect Birds? We mayhelp birds to live by giving them drinking places and birdbaths in the Summer, and food tables in the Winter. Wecan help by not going near birds’ nests and by not harmingbirds in any manner.
SUGGESTIONS TO TEACHERS AND PUPILS
ADDITIONAL STUDY TOPICS
Birds are to be found in almost “every corner of the earth.”Their study has a world wide interest and appeal. The followinglist is intended to serve as an aid in bringing to mind subjectsthat may be developed out-of-doors, or studied in the class room.
Vision of Birds: The keen power of sight of Hawks and Eagles;the Owl’s eye at night.
Variation in Structure of Bill: Adaptations of the sharppointed, curved beak of the flesh-eating Hawks; the small,pointed bill of the insect-eating Warbler.
Variation in Structure of Feet: The strong grasping talonsof flesh-eaters; the powerful “walking feet” of the Chicken;the perching feet of the Chickadee,
Habits of Cleanliness in Birds: Cleaning nests, bathing inwater and dust.
A NATURE-STUDY COLLECTION—THE BLUEJAY SET
The specimens are delivered to the school in a wooden carrying case about the size of anordinary suitcase. The birds are mounted on individual pedestals and can easily beremoved from the case. Thus the specimens may be used singly or collectively. Theycan be handled and seen from all sides.
The Flight of Birds: Powerful, sustained flight of the Condor;darting flight of flycatchers; suspension in air, or hoveringflight of the Hummingbird and Sparrow Hawk.
Migration of Birds: Travels from one continent to another,often over wide expanse of water; journey of the GoldenPlover.
Training of Young Birds by Their Parents: Young BarnSwallows forced into the air; Robins offering food to youngand thus enticing them to leave the nest.
The Songs of Birds: The Parrots, Thrushes, Sparrows. Songs ofmale birds during breeding season, imitation and mimicry—Catbird;warning cries, call notes.
Care and Feeding of Young: Different methods employed byparents. The Pelican, the Robin, the Swallows, the Flicker.
Types of Nests: Construction, materials used, building location;nest of Bank Swallow, hanging nest of Baltimore Oriole,Crow’s nest.
Weapons of Fighting: Spurs, wings, bills, talons.
Protective Coloration: Similarity of plumage, color and markingsto habitat.—the Wood Thrush, the Partridge.
Bird Houses: Different types, how made, how placed, how used.
Bird Conservation: Methods of preservation in various states.Laws for protection.
Relation of Birds to Agriculture: Insect eaters, seed eaters,rodent destroyers.
The Bird’s Feather: Feathers for study will be given to teachersupon request.
(Note). These are but a few of the subjects that might verywell be considered.
OUTLINE FOR BIRD STUDY
(Suggestions to Teachers and Pupils)
In observing birds out-of-doors or in the class room, with an ideaof studying or identifying them, there are certain definite things toknow and to remember. The following outline makes some suggestionsof what to look for when a bird is seen for the first time, orwhen you are studying a mounted specimen or colored picture.
Movements: See whether the flyer hops or walks when it is on theground. Does it hang upside down, move slowly or quickly,swim or creep? Remember that the same bird may have adifferent appearance at various times.
Disposition: Did you ever think of a bird in connection with itshaving a disposition? Notice whether it is unsuspicious,wary, social, solitary, etc.
Flight: Does the bird that flies over your head travel rapidly orslowly? Does it flap along or does it sail and soar? Maybe itundulates (flies up and then down in half-moon curves) as theGoldfinch does.
Song: There are many times when you may hear a bird but not seeit. Thus you should listen for songs very carefully. Noticewhether the song is continuous, short, loud, low, pleasing,unattractive, and whether it comes from the ground, from ahigher perch, or from the air.
Call Notes: Nearly all birds have a Call Note that is differentfrom the regular song. These notes may be of various sortssuch as scolding, warning, alarm, signalling, as well as anumber of others.
Size: In the field, you cannot run up to a wild bird and measureit with a ruler, but what you can do is to compare it in sizewith some other bird that you do know. Compare the unknownbird with an English Sparrow which is about 6 incheslong, a Robin about 10 and a Crow 19 inches long. Remember,6, 10 and 19.
Form: Note the shape of the bill, length of the tail, shape of wings.
Bird with parts labeled
“BIRDS THAT ARE OUR FRIENDS”
One of the new “Habitat Group” circulating nature-study collections. The label-holders are hinged to the back of the case and close over the ends, protectingthe glass during transportation. The label at the left is general and gives reasons why birds are our friends. That on the right deals with the habits and useof the specific birds in the case, each being identified by a simple drawing instead of by title or number.
Markings and Color: See just where the markings are. Rememberthat if a bird were seen without feathers, it wouldlook quite a bit like any other animal. The next time youhave a chicken after the feathers have been removed, lookat it closely. The wings look like arms, and as a matter offact, they have three “fingers,” which may be easily seen.The bird has a crown on its head; he has “cheeks,” a breast,a throat, a belly, and a rump as well as other external oroutside parts. Do not say that you saw a bird that was “blackand white and brown all over.” No one could tell you whatsort of a bird that was. See—just what you are looking at.As with the Markings, you should know something of theparts of a bird before you are able to tell just where the colorsoccur. How many colors are there on the under side of theRobin?
Appearance: The bird may be alert, wide awake or pensive asthough it had just lost a friend. Its tail may be drooped,its crest erected or its feathers ruffled.
Haunts: Where did you see the bird? Was it near the seashore,beside the river, in the woods, the fields, a place where the landwas low and swampy or high and rocky, or was it down nearthe side of the lake?
Season: The time of year that the bird is seen is a very importantthing to notice and to take into consideration. Look forthe times when birds first arrive and when they leave. Didyou see them in the winter, spring, summer, or fall? Are theypermanent residents?
Food: When you walked through the pasture or through the parkand saw a bird eating something, did you stop and try