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Teaching about bird migration

Updated on March 16, 2012

In my experience, certain students learn better and enjoy school a lot more when learning is integrated with a concrete activity.

For example, I once combined a lesson about migratory birds with a craft project where the kids made a Canada goose from paper plates and cardboard. You can find a link to the craft project at the end of this hub. But since this hub is about teaching, first a few facts about geese.

The Canada Goose is a wild goose that is very common in Canada. The feathers of the Canada goose are brownish black, except on the stomach and the neck where they are white. In Canada and in the U.S.A. these birds can be observed in the fall and in the spring during their migration. They migrate to warmer regions of the United States. The geese fly as a group in a very recognizable "V" formation. In the formation, the geese at the front protect the ones that follow who have to spend less effort to fly because they take advantage of the turbulences created by the wings of the birds in the front. When the first ones are tired they go behind to rest while others take their place. The geese at the back of the formation "honk" to encourage the rest of the formation to maintain their speed.

A Canada goose weighs between 2 and 8 kilos (5 to 18 pounds). It can reach 2 metres (6 feet) of wingspan. The life span of a goose in the wild is about 23 years. In captivity, it can reach 42 years of age. The geese feed on water plants, grains and grasses.

Family ties are very developed in geese. A couple of geese stays together for life. The young stay with their parents until the following brood. If a young gets lost and does not find its parents, another family of geese will adopt it.

Usually, the geese hide their nest in the bushes not far from a water source. The nest is filled with vegetation and with down from the female. The female lays 5 to 7 eggs which hatch after 25 to 28 days. The male stays close to guard the nest and chase away any intruders.

When a goose is sick or hurt, two other geese withdraw from the formation to accompany it, help it and protect it on the ground. They live with the sick bird until it either can fly or it dies.

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    • kidscrafts profile image
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      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thanks for mentionning it, John. I hope that one day I can go to see Niagara Falls with this kind of weather; it must be quite stunning as well! And if I was a goose.... I would be down South ;-)))

      Have a nice evening!

      Joelle

    • John MacNab profile image

      John MacNab 3 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence

      The river is stunning, in its frozen state, kidscrafts. If anybody ever wondered why the Canada geese fly south in winter, they just have to look at a completely frozen St. Lawrence to know why.

    • kidscrafts profile image
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      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you for coming and commenting, John! Those geese are quite special and have a big respect for family values. We human could learn from them :-)

      Ennjoy your day! The banks of the St.Lawrence must be beautiful with this kind of weather!

    • John MacNab profile image

      John MacNab 3 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence

      Very interesting kidscrafts. I didn't know that the honking geese were the ones at the back urging the others on, or that two geese would withdraw from the V to help another sick goose. Fascinating!

    • kidscrafts profile image
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      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      They are beautiful birds! On the snow it must have been just wonderful to see so many of them :-)

      It's for sure they have the right insulation! They invented down duvet ;-)

    • CraftytotheCore profile image

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      So yesterday, it snowed about half a foot here. The school let the children out early. As I was walking with them through the park by the school to get to the car, we noticed about 200 guess in the park. They were all laying down in the snow, with their heads stuck inside their warm feathers. My son asked me if the geese were freezing. But then it dawned on me, they are covered in down feathers. LOL I have just never witnessed so many guess here at this time of winter.

    • kidscrafts profile image
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      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Believe it or not but some geese stay in Canada for the winter! Brrrrrr! If I had wings you can be sure that I would go South for the winter! But those birds are quite good to help their own kind.

      So maybe this year the inside of the school is South... and warm ;-)

      Have a good week.... and take good care of yourself!

    • CraftytotheCore profile image

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      At the local school, there is normally a huge flock of geese. So many that we have to watch our step when walking through the school yard. This year, not all of them migrated. In fact, yesterday when I dropped the children off at school, a staff member was shutting the back door which is normally kept open. They were afraid of the geese walking in to the school. We've had some cold days here already, but overall it's been fairly warm. It leads me to wonder if the geese didn't migrate at all or if a large group of them stayed behind to help an injured one. I can't tell.

    • kidscrafts profile image
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      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you very much for your visit and kind comment, JPSO138! I think kids learn better when they can have fun and create while learning :-)

      Have a good day!

    • JPSO138 profile image

      JPSO138 3 years ago from Cebu, Philippines, International

      You are right indeed, learning can be fun most especially when it is integrated with activities rather than just sit and read a book or listen to a discussion. Great hub and good information.

    • kidscrafts profile image
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      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you very much for your visit and your comment, Dream-On! I think that usually they are more aggressive when they have their babies. One parent is always looking around that nobody get to close of them. But they are big birds so I always keep a safe distance anyway :-)

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 4 years ago

      I have seen geese growing up and I found them lovable but aggressive.So beautiful and interesting.You summed up so much I have never been able to put into words.What a wonderful hub.

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you for your visit and nice comment! Those geese are indeed fascinating to see when they fly in formation. Their protective instinct for family members is also quite something to observe. I suppose I will see them leave to spend the winter in a warmer place in not too long :-(

      Many blessings to you too!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

      Wonderful and interesting hub here!

      I know I have shared this before here somewhere in HP Town, but when my son was about age seven or so, maybe even a little older ... anyway, early one morning he was sitting on our first porch on the bench there and then he came running into our house just as fast as he could run to tell me to hurry up and come see the most fascinating thing ever!!! LOL And guess what it was he saw ... yes, those Canadian geese flying in formation south for the winter. He said very enthusiastically, "Oh, COOL!!!" lol I, too, am so fascinated by such and can just watch such beautiful creatures all day, yet they fly away.

      Voted up ++++ and sharing

      God bless, Faith Reaper

    • kidscrafts profile image
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      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thanks for your kind comments, Charron!

      I love birds too! Birds and butterflies have a special meaning in my life. May be the feeling of spreading my wings....

      I love to hear the Canada geese coming back to Canada from their winter retreat.... and I am sad to see them go in the fall!

    • CharronsChatter profile image

      Karen Robiscoe 4 years ago from California

      I really love birds--find them pretty symbolic in my life for lots of reasons, and so especially enjoyed learning these facts about geese. The honking concept is great--a "hey buddy" if I ever read one, and just like us on a crowded road.

      How lovely and loyal they stick by their sick the way they do. As ever, huge kudos and sharing to Feebs...:)

    • kidscrafts profile image
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      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Nature is for sure amazing, Jo! It's nice to see that those birds have such a strong sense of family! I think, we humans, have a lot to learn from them. Thanks for visiting and commenting :-)

    • kidscrafts profile image
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      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thanks Michelle for your visit and your comment! Are pigeons migrating in your area? From where are they coming from?

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 4 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Isn't nature amazing!... we often fool ourselves, by believing that we are the only species to feel compassion or even a sense of family.....how wrong we are!!..I love the sight and sound of the migrating Canadian Geese, they fly all the way from Canada, Scandinavia and Greenland to touch down in Scotland and then the rest of the UK. The arrowhead formation always fascinates me.

      Beautiful images with the chicks. Nice work.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Pigeons are the closest I can think of! Just spotted a speckled one earlier! Thanks and am passing this around.

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you very much, Michelle! Do you have birds that resemble the Canada geese in your country?

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      The birds should be coming back in view of our hot weather! Thanks for sharing, Kidscrafts!

    • kidscrafts profile image
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      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you very much for the vote and comments, KoffeeKlatchGals! I didn't know those birds until I came to Canada and I found them just beautiful! I saw a whole group flying low this morning; I don't know if they were late coming to Canada for the summer!

      Have a great weekend!

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 4 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I love your pictures. Geese are wonderfully family oriented. Great information. Up, useful and interesting.

    • kidscrafts profile image
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      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you Dinkan! In some golf club were the geese take residence, they rub the eggs with some oil so the embryo can't breath through the shell and they never hatch. In this case the humans are the biggest threats to those birds.

    • kidscrafts profile image
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      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you FlorishAnyway! You are right that they were there first. At the previous office of my husband they had special signs along the roads to caution people to slow down because of geese and chicks crossing :-)

      Geese have a high sense of family and they will protect the young and the sick.

    • dinkan53 profile image

      dinkan53 4 years ago from India

      Quite interesting, the biggest threat occurs during the first couple of weeks after the eggs are laid and then after hatching. The eggs and young chicks are vulnerable to lot of predators. Thanks for sharing.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      I love Canadian geese! We used to have some who made their home at the office complex where I worked, and in the springtime they'd get pesky trying to nip people who wandered too close to where their young evidently were nesting. It was funny to watch as long as you weren't one of those people. (People forget the geese were there first.)

    • kidscrafts profile image
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      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      I don't know if you have a lot of those geese where you live; here in Ottawa, we have quite a lot of them (who stay all year round). But we can also hear those who just pass above our head in the Spring and in the Fall. I love them when they come for Spring. I always imagine that they know more than we do about the weather :-)

      Thanks for coming, voting and sharing!

    • livingsta profile image

      livingsta 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      A very useful and interesting hub for kids. Thank you for sharing this with us. Voted up and sharing!

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you Dwachira! Those birds can teach us a few lessons indeed. It's fascinating to observe them. We can hear them coming back in Canada now... they are honking while flying. It's a sure sign that Spring is coming back... finally!

    • dwachira profile image

      [ Danson Wachira ] 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Hi kidscrafts,

      I hope we can learn a lesson from the life of Canada Goose. [If a young gets lost and does not find its parents, another family of geese will adopt it.] and [When a goose is sick or hurt, two other geese withdraw from the formation to accompany it, help it and protect it on the ground.] Valuable humanity love lessons indeed. voted up and useful.

    • MrsBrownsParlour profile image

      Lurana Brown 4 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      That sounds wonderful, your students are very lucky!! :-)

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you DDE! I love those birds and I took that picture while I was visiting a friend. She has a golf course just behind her backyard with a pound... on which that family of geese had a nice place to stay and raise those babies!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      A photo showing off the beautiful geese, and such interesting information. A learning lesson for me I so much enjoyed reading about Teaching about bird migration

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      When the movie "Fly away home" with Jeff Daniels and Anna Paquin came in the movie theaters, our school rented a room to go and watch that movie. After that activity, I had each of my students create a Canada goose with their wings in a flying position and we hung them from the ceiling. It was beautiful. This movie was based on the book of Bill Lishman "Father Goose". He worked with an ultralight aircraft to teach the geese to learn to migrate. After that, he worked on reintroduce whooping cranes into eastern North America and also teach them a migration route. Very fascinating!

      As for the book, it's quite a big book for young children but may be you could read some each day to your kids when you find that they have the right age.

    • MrsBrownsParlour profile image

      Lurana Brown 4 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      I enjoy this topic very much! I am not familiar with the movie and book you mentioned but wrote them on my list of things to look for in the future. Thank you for the recommendations. Your activities look interesting and I hope to try some soon. :-)

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you for your kind comment Lurana!

      I love the Canada geese! I love their strong sense of family. I love to hear them come back to sped the summer in Canada.... some courageous one stay all year long!

      I have the DVD "Winged Migration"; I had to think about it first because I have the French version.

      Another movie that I love is "Fly away home" that is based on a real story.

      A good book that I loved as a kid and that I wouldn't mind reading again is "The Wonderful Adventures of Nils" from Selma Lagerlöf.

      I am glad that you plan on coming back and I hope that you will find nice activities for your children!

      I am slow on publishing it... but it's coming :-)

    • MrsBrownsParlour profile image

      Lurana Brown 4 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      Hello! I plan on coming back to your profile for craft ideas for my small children, but was drawn immediately to this piece. I have always loved the sound and sight of migrating Canadian geese.

      My favorite nature documentary in the whole world is called "Winged Migration" and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is mesmerizingly beautiful. It is also very educational (and somewhat controversial because of their methods); they bonded with and tracked groups of birds from a birds' eye view.

      Anyway, thank you for writing about these beautiful, interesting creatures. :-)

      ~Lurana @MrsBrownsParlour

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Who knows ;-)

    • AMFredenburg profile image

      Aldene Fredenburg 4 years ago from Southwestern New Hampshire

      Yes; I was having my doubts about spring. Maybe you and I share the same geese!

    • kidscrafts profile image
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      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thanks for coming visit me AMFredenburg. I know that they left New Hampshire.... I could hear them tonight while my husband and I were going for a walk. What a wonderful sound to hear at this time of the year.... Spring is really coming!

    • AMFredenburg profile image

      Aldene Fredenburg 4 years ago from Southwestern New Hampshire

      Thanks for sharing this info! I love Canadian geese, and have them for neighbors several months a year, as we have people in our neighborhood who feed them. Just within the past week they've headed north to Canada, and I'll miss them.

    • kidscrafts profile image
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      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you for your visit Michelle! Those Canada geese have indeed a strong sense of family. The first one are starting to come back from the South.... may be a sign of Spring finally arriving here while we still have snow on the ground!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Geese can certainly teach humans a thing or two about family! Sharing this great hub with wonderful pics again!

    • kidscrafts profile image
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      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      You are welcome! They are indeed beautiful birds! Thanks for your visit AliciaC!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for the information about Canada Geese, kidscrafts. They are beautiful birds. Thanks for sharing the link to the interesting craft project, too.

    • kidscrafts profile image
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      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you alocsin. I think one of the first time I saw them a few feet from me was when I was in a park in Vancouver. Now in Ottawa, some even for the winter! If I was a Canada goose, I would definitely travel South for the winter ;-)

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Living in Southern California, I don't know that I've ever seen these geese up close. But I can certainly hear them as they fly overhead in formation. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • kidscrafts profile image
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      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you for your visit! I bet they love the weather in San Francisco :-) No need to migrate up and down each year! Some courageous one spend the whole winter in Ottawa!

      I love the sound of them when they are coming back; you know then that Spring is in the air!

      I was at a friend's place when I took the picture of the family in the pond.

      I like the fact that those birds have so strong family ties. Really nice to see!

      Thanks again for coming!

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      Joanne M Olivieri 4 years ago

      Very, very interesting. I work at the botanical gardens in San Francisco and we have had Canadian geese in our gardens by the pond almost all year round. One thing I did notice while observing them, and you make the point in your article is that whey they are on the grassy meadow, there is always one who stands in front of all of them and seems to be the lookout. I found that very interesting. They love it here in San Francisco :)

    • kidscrafts profile image
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      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      We have a lot of them in Ottawa because we have a lot of water where they can strive! Some of them even don't bother to migrate South for the winter!

      Thanks for you comments!

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      ignugent17 4 years ago

      They look so cute! Thanks for the information. I see them once in a while in our pond.

    • kidscrafts profile image
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      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      It so true! They have an unbelievable sense of family and also they are helping each other with migration! They are quite an organized kind of "society" among themselves.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      And they have a well-developed system of helping each other too. Thanks for sharing,kids crafts!