This article reviews a report from Partners in Flight which reveals a sharp decline in North American bird populations and goes on to look at some implications and causes.

Getting Started

Appropriate Subject Area(s):

Environmental studies, world issues

Key Questions to Explore:

  • Why are bird populations declining?
  • What are the implications of this decline?
  • What can be done?

New Terminology:


Materials Needed:

Copies of the article for the students

Study and Discussion Activity

Introduction to lesson and task:

There has been much coverage lately of the large decline in the honey bee population and many discussions about its serious impact. Other species, such as the lowland gorilla and polar bear, have also been identified as being in serious decline. While the loss of any species is serious, some have more implications for human survival than others. Just recently the decline of the North American bird population has come to the fore and this has great implications for human survival. This lesson will have the students examine this situation, discuss the seriousness of it and explore both the causes and possible positive human interventions which could be made.

Action (lesson plan and task):

  • With this as background, put the students in groups of four to six and assign them the following questions:
  • Indicate to them that studies are showing a significant decline in bird populations.
  • If they do not identify birds, ask them if they have noticed a decline in their numbers and, if so, whether or not that concerns them.
  • Ask them if they have noticed a decline in numbers of any of the animals identified.
  • Ask the students what wildlife they notice when they go for a walk – be it on the street, in a park or in a wooded area.
    • Is your group concerned about this decline? Why or why not?
    • On a scale of 1 to 10 how concerned are you? Why?
    • What do you believe are the causes of this decline?
    • What are the implications of this decline?
    • What do you think can be done to stop and reverse this decline?
  • Allow the groups time to answer the questions and then have them report back to the class.

Consolidation of Learning:

  • Once the groups have finished their reports, give the groups copies of the article and allow them time to read it and to discuss within their groups, what, if any, alterations they would make to their reports based on what they have just read.
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria:

The students will be able to:

  • Identify the extent of the decline of the North American bird population
  • Explain the significance of this development
  • Explain some of the causes of the decline
  • Outline possible actions that could be taken to help remedy this situation.

Confirming Activity:

  • Have each group in turn explain what, if any, changes they made to their report and whether or not they now view this decline as more serious than they thought.