Tales of a Tail-feather

Tales of a Tail-feather

Students watch a video of Kristen Ruegg describing her research on migratory birds. After doing their own research on bird migration, students construct an argument using a claim-evidence-reasoning framework to protect migratory birds’ stopover regions.


5 - 12+


Biology, Ecology

Made Possible By
Lockheed Martin

Idea for Use in the Classroom

Human population growth has led to increasing agricultural and urban development. For example, buildings are now taller and more numerous in cities, and deforestation is removing large areas of trees in forests. These changes in the ecosystem make the resources that birds rely on, such as food, shelter, and water, harder to come by. When these changes are made in migratory birds’ stopover regions, it can be devastating to the bird population.

Kickoff a discussion of birds and migration by asking students, Why would a migrating bird need to make any stops during their long journey? (possible answers: to rest, eat and refuel, and weather out storms) As a class, discuss how these stopover points are critical for birds’ migratory success. Connect to the video by having students identify areas of migration, types of migrating birds, and issues with migrations. Have students read the encyclopedic entry on migration to deepen their understanding of why animals migrate.

Have students construct an oral or written argument supported by evidence and scientific reasoning to support a solution to reduce the destruction of stopover regions for one type of migratory bird.

Have students work in groups to come up with an argument using the following structure:

  • Claim: a one-sentence answer to the question “Why should we try to protect migratory birds’ stopover regions?”
  • Evidence: scientific data used to support the claim (this could come from a text, from Kristen Ruegg’s video, or from additional resources)
  • Reasoning: uses scientific ideas to explain how or why the data counts as evidence to support the claim
Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Heather J. Johnson, Vanderbilt University
Jeanna Sullivan, National Geographic Society
Educator Reviewer
Alexandra M. Silva, Science Educator, Peter Gruber International Academy, Virgin Islands 9-12 International Baccalaureate MYP Science, DP Biology, and DP Environmental Systems & Societies MEd Instructional Leadership: Science Education; MS Ecology & Evolution
Program Specialist
Sarah Appleton, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Last Updated

March 12, 2024

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