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  • In this activity, students take on the role of migrating birds. By participating in a physically active simulation, they experience the journey from summer breeding grounds to winter feeding grounds. As the activity progresses different scenarios affect these areas and the ability to successfully migrate.

    By the end of this activity, students should:

    • understand the importance of estuaries for bird migration
    • understand wider food web links, for example, the potential impact on migrating birds of estuary pollution or a reduction in the numbers of cockles
    • be able to discuss some of the impacts that humans have on estuaries and some ways that these impacts can be reduced.

    Download the Word file (see link below) for:

    • introduction/background notes
    • what you need
    • what to do
    • discussion questions
    • activity area set-up
    • scenarios.

    Related content

    The article Estuaries – a context for learning has links to resources that cover biological and ecological functions, cultural and economic aspects, geological and geographical features and human impacts on estuaries.

    Research has revealed that godwits make the longest non-stop migration flight of any known bird.

    Read about how one primary school teacher adapted this activity for their science unit on the New Zealand longfin eel.

    Activity idea

    Tracking E7 – learn about the migratory flight of bar-tailed godwits from New Zealand.

    In Estuary metaphors students discuss how a variety of everyday objects serve as metaphors for the characteristics and functions of estuaries.

    Useful links

    Curious about the size of birds in New Zealand? Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research have developed the Chocolate Fish Index to help you out! Watch their video onYouTube.

    Visit the Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand for more information about estuaries and bird migration.

    Visit the Alaska Science Centre website to view maps showing the flight path of a number of godwits fitted with satellite tags.

    The National Wetland Trust is a non-profit organisation established in 1999 to increase the appreciation of wetlands and their values by all New Zealanders.

      Published 12 October 2009 Referencing Hub articles
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