Activity #3-Migrants in Glacier Bay



1. Before you begin: Read the directions to the Copper River International Migratory Bird Initiative: Winging Northward, A Shorebird's Journey. Print the Background of the game for students to read and the cards needed to play the game. Have on hand a large supply of index cards for students to use when they create their own Migratory Bird Game.


2. The migration of shore birds
Follow the directions for playing the game with students. Make sure they read the "Background" and Why Files: Miracle of Winged Migration: Birds


  • What kinds of problems must migrating birds solve?
  • What are the dangers migrating birds face on their long journey?
  • What would make an ideal migrating route? Explain.

3. Research migrating birds of Glacier Bay
Eight of the migrating birds that can be found in Glacier Bay from time to time are listed below. Distribute The Migrants of Glacier Bay and divide the eight birds among groups.

Migrating Birds of Glacier Bay

  1. Arctic tern
  2. Black-legged Kittiwake
  3. Tufted puffin
  4. Red-necked Phalaropes
  5. Common Goldeneyes
  6. Spotted Sandpiper
  7. Parasitic Jaeger
  8. Greater Yellowlegs

The students will research the Internet and other media sources to learn all they can for their assigned bird about the following topics:

  • Summer and winter range
  • Legal status
  • Typical food
  • Threats
  • Probable migratory path
  • Favored habitat
  • Breeding behavior
  • Possible migratory path: Are they traveling or at a stopping point?

Note: Below are four excellent Internet sites to help students research the assigned bird.

  1. Bird Web
  2. What Bird?
  3. ARKive: Images of Life on Earth (search for birds by name)
  4. Enature: Field Guides (Click "birds")

4. Write a resource page on the migrating birds of Glacier Bay
Ask the groups to use their research to create a resource page on their bird, briefly discussing the information they found and how the bird uses Glacier Bay. Make sure they include a map showing the probably flyway or migratory route used by their bird.

5. Assessing the game
Briefly discuss the information on the cards (Northern Cards, Southern Cards and Staging Cards) that drove the Migration Game students played in the beginning of the activity. What positive events and negative events are written on the cards?

Sort the cards into "positive," "negative," and "neutral." Ask students to consider the negative cards. What do students think human beings could do to modify the negative cards to become positive cards? Explain. Try this again with the positive cards.


Creating new migratory games
Divide students into their original groups and ask each group to create a version of the Migratory Game from The Incredible Journey. Essentially, they can map their game card for card with the model. They must write their cards to accurately reflect their bird and its use of Glacier Bay. Challenge one group to use a map of the world as a playing field and make their game a "board" game on the map.

Ask groups to explain the process they used to create their game. Then, play several of the student-created games.

Discuss: Ask them to use their migratory information and experience to list the factors needed by migratory birds to ensure their survival in the years to come. In what ways is the existence and management of Glacier Bay of major importance to the protection and enjoyment of migratory birds?


Extension 1
Have students choose one or two of the birds on the Glacier Bay Bird Checklist that cannot be found in the park year round. Discover where else the bird can be found and the routes and stopovers it takes in its travels. Next, have them discover all they can about the regulations, if any, that protect the habitats these birds need outside Glacier Bay. Finally, have students create a short presentation in which, using a map of the world, they share their data and speculate on the continued survival of the birds they researched, based on the status of the locations in which they are found.

Extension 2
Have students explore the International Migratory Bird Day ( What kinds of events are people having to celebrate migratory birds? What information can be found in the IMBD site? Have students meet together, either as a class or in small groups to plan a Migratory Bird Day celebration for their town or region. Research will be required to look into the migratory birds that are found locally and the period of time that they take up residence. Share your ideas in class and, if appropriate, sponsor an International Migratory Bird Day celebration at school and for parents.

Extension 3
Repeat this activity using the following game: Foxes and Kittiwakes Challenge students to choose a bird that breeds in Glacier Bay, such as the Glaucous-winged gull, and learn everything they can about the breeding behavior and habitat of the bird and any threats it faces during the breeding season. Use this information to create a similar game to Foxes and Kittiwakes.








Last updated: April 14, 2015

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