Lesson 2: Why does the songbird sing??

Topic: Bird Songs vs Calls Theme: A bird species’ song and calls have different characteristics and serve different purposes to enhance survival and reproduction.

Lesson 3: Wait… birds have dance battles??

Topic: Courtship Rituals and Mating Displays Theme: The courtship rituals and mating displays of birds are not only entertaining, but also teach us how natural selection can produce unique behaviors and physical features.

Lesson 4: How does one make a nest??

Topic: Bird Nesting and the Nest Cycle Themes: Nests are important structures for young survival. Nest types and materials vary widely depending on species and habitat.

Lesson 5: How is reproductive success measured??

Topic: MRBO Nest Monitoring Project Themes: One way we can measure reproductive success is by measuring nesting success. We can use long-term nest monitoring data to see how specific factors may increase or decrease nest success.
Common Misconceptions to Watch Out For
  • Birds use nests all year long. Birds only use nests as a place to incubate eggs and raise young. Once chicks fledge, adults and young do not typically continue to use the nest. However, some birds will return to the same general areas to nest year after year.
  • Cowbirds are a pest species that should be eliminated. Cowbirds are a brood parasite, meaning they lay their eggs in nests of other species. Baby cowbirds grow fast and can crowd out other chicks. This is an example of a species using an alternative reproductive strategy. Cowbirds are native to the United States and therefore are protected by law, so it is illegal to harm them. Some birds are able to recognize and reject cowbird eggs.
  • Two parents are needed to raise the young. In many birds like hummingbirds and woodcock, the female raises the young all by herself. In other birds like crows and blue jays, parents recruit nannies, usually former offspring, to help protect and feed the young. There is a lot of variability on how and who raises the young and makes the nest based on species.