Category Archives: Birds

The Beauty of the Blue-Footed Booby

“With no real predators, the birds live proud, public lives. That accessibility has proved a bonanza for scientists, casting light on their mating habits and even why the shade of their feet matters. The birds move with comic grace… like  hobo swells in oversize shoes. The male faces the female and slowly, slowly lifts up one foot, sets it down and lifts the other. Check out my feet! They’re blue. Really, really blue. The female mirrors his ponderous moves. Mine are blue, too.” N. Angier, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Blue- Footed Booby. image savenature

 

Excerpt: On Galápagos, Revealing the Blue-Footed Booby’s True Colors, By Natalie Angier, The NYT

“He leans over, spreads his wings wide, points his bill at the sky and whistles breathily, as if blowing on a toy flute. She grunts and totters up to him, and they clack bills. He grabs a pebble, and they clack bills again; he drops the pebble and spears a twig. Clack, whistle, grunt, whistle. And suddenly, she backs away. Desperate, the male solemnly starts high-stepping again, displaying his beautiful teal-blue feet. But the courtship has fizzled, and when the female again lifts up a foot in response, it looks as if she’s waving goodbye.

Blue Footed Boobies dancing . image-nikonian

 

It’s dating time here for the blue-footed booby. Everywhere, dozens of times a day, the large, handsome seabirds are making their highly ritualized courtship display — one reason the boobies are among the most celebrated and beloved residents of this archipelago. 

Blue-footed boobies, which hit the water at 60 miles per hour, hunting in the Galápagos archipelago.Credit Tui De Roy:Minden Pictures

They are also feeding voraciously and spectacularly, circling high over the water, alert for the slightest flicker of fish, and then freezing in midair for a fraction of a second before dropping headfirst onto their targets, like missiles falling from a plane.

Research teams from Mexico and the United States have followed populations of the long-lived birds for years…scientists have discovered that the key to a successful long-term booby partnership is the equitable sharing of nest duties year after year…

Blue-Footed Booby image- national geographic

Someone familiar? Someone new? Nonnegotiable: The feet must be blue.

Blue-footed boobies are members of the family Sulidae, a group that includes about 10 species of gannets and boobies and is, by some analyses, part of the larger pelican order. The name booby is thought to come from bobo, the Spanish word for stupid or clown, a reference to the bird’s awkward waddle.

Mom and chicks.

Blue-footed boobies can be found throughout the tropics and subtropics of the eastern Pacific. Though their overall population is not considered endangered, their numbers on the Galápagos have fallen since the 1990s, the result, scientists believe, of a local decline in the sardine stocks that the boobies need to breed.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Have students  examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. The female mirrors his ponderous moves.
  2. The male totters up to her.
  3. They also feed voraciously circling high over the water.
  4. They dive headfirst onto their targets, like missiles.
  5. They squabble with one another over territory and nesting sites.
  6. Scientists find them super fascinating.
  7. The birds are surprisingly confident and capable.
  8. The trait they fixate on is the blue-ness of a partner’s feet.
  9. Boobies generally mate for life.
  10. Among blue-footed boobies, though, sibling violence is provisional.

    ELLteaching 2.0 vocabualry chart

Reading Comprehension

Fill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences  taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

Biparental ___is the ___among ___ but longtime___have perfected the art of ___and turn-taking. They spend the same time ___and feeding the young, and___the same physical ___as seen in measures of blood cells and body mass.

WORD LIST: effort, boobies, mates, rule, care, expend, brooding, symmetry,

 Grammar Focus:Word -Recognition

Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

The birds/buds are about the seize/size of large sea gulls, with wingspans up to five feet. Adult males/females are about 20 percent to 30 percent heavier/heavy and stronger than males. Boobies/bodies stay close to home, and if given the change/chance, most will live and breed/brood within a few dozen feet of where they were born. They often hunt/haunt small, schooling fish in flocks, each hitting the water at 60 miles per hour, its brain/brine protected by specialized air sacs in the skull.

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Questions for Comprehension

Directions: Place students in groups Have each group list 3  questions they would like to ask any person mentioned in the article. Groups share questions as a class.

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Birds | Tags:

The Girl Who Loved Crows and The Gifts They Brought Her

“Lots of people love the birds in their garden, but it’s rare for that affection to be reciprocated. One young girl in Seattle is luckier than most. She feeds the crows in her garden – and they bring her gifts in return.” K. Sewall–BBC

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Eight-year-old Gabi Mann,Photo-Lisa Mann-BBC

Eight-year-old Gabi Mann, the crows bring her gifts.Photo-Lisa Mann-BBC

Excerpt: The girl who gets gifts from birds By Katy Sewall, BBC News

“Eight-year-old Gabi Mann sets a bead storage container on the dining room table, and clicks the lid open. This is her most precious collection.

Inside the box are rows of small objects in clear plastic bags. One label reads: Black table by feeder. 2:30 p.m. 09 Nov 2014. Inside is a broken light bulb. Another bag contains small pieces of brown glass worn smooth by the sea. Beer coloured glass, as Gabi describes it.

There’s a miniature silver ball, a black button, a blue paper clip, a yellow bead, a faded black piece of foam, a blue Lego piece, and the list goes on. Many of them are scuffed and dirty. It is an odd assortment of objects for a little girl to treasure, but to Gabi these things are more valuable than gold.

Gabi's beautiful gifts from her crow friends.

Gabi’s beautiful gifts from her crow friends.

She didn’t gather this collection. Each item was a gift – given to her by crows. She holds up a pearl coloured heart. It is her most-prized present. “It’s showing me how much they love me.”

How It All Began…

“Gabi’s relationship with the neighborhood crows began accidentally in 2011. She was four years old, and prone to dropping food. She’d get out of the car, and a chicken nugget would tumble off her lap. A crow would rush in to recover it. Soon, the crows were watching for her, hoping for another bite.

As she got older, she rewarded their attention, by sharing her packed lunch on the way to the bus stop. Her brother joined in. Soon, crows were lining up in the afternoon to greet Gabi’s bus, hoping for another feeding session…

Gabi’s mother Lisa didn’t mind that crows consumed most of the school lunches she packed…In 2013, Gabi and Lisa started offering food as a daily ritual, rather than dropping scraps from time to time.

Crow friend  from Gabi's garden.

Crow friend from Gabi’s garden.

Each morning, they fill the backyard birdbath with fresh water and cover bird-feeder platforms with peanuts. Gabi throws handfuls of dog food into the grass. As they work, crows assemble on the telephone lines, calling loudly to them.

It was after they adopted this routine that the gifts started appearing. The crows would clear the feeder of peanuts, and leave shiny trinkets on the empty tray; an earring, a hinge, a polished rock. There wasn’t a pattern. Gifts showed up sporadically – anything shiny and small enough to fit in a crow’s mouth…When you see Gabi’s collection, it’s hard not to wish for gift-giving crows of your own.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Level: Intermediate – High Intermediate


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) access to news article, and video clip.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

 

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Using  a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions:  Ask students to examine the title of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them  examine the photos. Ask students to write a paragraph describing what they think this article will discuss. Have students use the pre-reading organizer to assist them in finding the main ideas from the reading.

Pre-reading Organizer By Scholastic.

Pre-reading Organizer By Scholastic.

II. While Reading Tasks

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. This is her most precious collection.
  2. Each item is individually wrapped and categorized.
  3. Many of them are scuffed and dirty.
  4. It is an odd assortment of objects.
  5. She was four years old, and prone to dropping food.
  6. A chicken nugget would tumble off her lap.
  7. As she got older, she rewarded their attention.
  8. Gabi has been given some icky objects.
  9. She  regularly charts their behavior and interactions.
  10. Crows love the birdbath. 
Freeology Chart

Freeology Chart

Reading Comprehension: True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the following statements from the reading. If a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they mark it F and provide the correct answer.

  1. Eight-year-old Gabi Mann keeps her gifts from the crows in a blue box.
  2. Gabi wraps and categorizes each item.
  3. Among her items from the crows are a small car, a balloon, and a ring.
  4. Many of  the items are shiny and new.
  5. To Gabi these things are more valuable than gold.
  6. Gabi’s relationship with the neighborhood crows began accidentally.
  7. She’d get out of the car, and a chicken sandwich tumbled off her lap.
  8. There are 100 crows total.
  9. Lisa is Gabi’s best friend who helps her keep track of the gifts.
  10. According to Gabi, the crows watch hem all the time.

Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. Inside the box is rows of small objects in clear plastic bags
  2. Each item is individually wrapped and categorized.
  3. There’s a miniature silver ball.

 

II

  1. She didn’t gather this collection.
  2. Each item was a gift given to her by crows.
  3. She holds up these pearl colored heart.

 

III

  1. She was four years old, and prone to dropping food.
  2. A crow would rush in to recover it.
  3. As she get older, she rewarded their attention.

III. Post Reading Tasks

Graphic Organizers: Finding the main idea

Directions:  Have students use this graphic organizer from Enchanted Learning  to assist them with  discussing  or writing about  the main points from the article.WH-organizer from Enchanted Learning

Discussion/Writing Exercise

Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following discussion topics.

1. The following three statements were taken from the article. Rephrase each one, then discuss the meaning with the members of your group.
“Gabi’s relationship with the neighbourhood crows began accidentally in 2011. She was four years old, and prone to dropping food. She’d get out of the car, and a chicken nugget would tumble off her lap. A crow would rush in to recover it. Soon, the crows were watching for her, hoping for another bite.”

“Marzluff, and his colleague Mark Miller, did a study of crows and the people who feed them. They found that crows and people form a very personal relationship..They understand each other’s signals.The birds communicate by how they fly, how close they walk, and where they sit. The human learns their language and the crows learn their feeder’s patterns and posture. They start to know and trust each other. Sometimes a crow leaves a gift.”

“But crow gifts are not guaranteed. I can’t say they always will give presents…Not all crows deliver shiny objects either. Sometimes they give the kind of presents they would give to their mate. Courtship feeding, for example. So some people, their presents are dead baby birds that the crow brings in.”
2. Have you or your group members ever tried to communicate with crows or any other kind of birds? If yes, describe your experiences.

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about crows from the reading, two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Birds | Tags: