The Living Edens
N.A.M.I.B. (Namib Animal Mobile of Interesting Birds)

Instructional Objectives
Background Material
Evaluation/Alternative Assessment
Web Resources

Instructional Objectives:

Students will:

  1. Identify the birds of the Namib desert
  2. Build a bird mobile from The Living Edens "Namib" program to hang in the classroom or home
  3. Describe the different environments in which birds live in the Namib Desert

Background Material:

There are a number of bird species found in the Namib Desert. This activity focuses on those presented in the Namib Program aired on July 16, 1997. Birds found in the program that are most relevant to this activity are: Ostrich, Sand Grouse, Vultures, Flamingos, Cormorants, Pelicans, Cape Gannets and Jackass Penguins. The environments in which these birds live is presented in the program and acts as a great opportunity for students to recognize the specific habitats for these creatures of the Namib.

Bird Species of the Namib: Scientific Names are given for the sole purpose of researching the species on the World Wide Web. (All of the information below was gathered from The Living Edens "Namib" program, which aired on July 16, 1997 on PBS, from Harrison, Peter, A Field Guide to Seabirds of the World, The Stephen Greene Press, Lexington, Massachusetts, 1987 and from Sinclair, Ian, Field Guide To the Birds of Southern Africa, The Stephen Greene Press, Lexington, Massachusetts, 1984).

Jackass Penguins: These penguins are about 30 inches tall, have black and white color on their heads and are found in the Namib. They are found on the coast and breed in colonies. Penguins are seabirds. The scientific name of the Jackass Penguin is Spheniscus demersus.

Cape Gannet: The Cape is a seabird and found in the waters on the coast of Namib. It has a wing span of about 33 inches and has a light orange colored head, white body and black wingtips and tail. The scientific name of the Cape Gannet is Sula capensis.

Cape Cormorant: The Cape Cormorant is a seabird and found on the Namib coast. It has a wing span up to 40 inches and body length of up to 25 inches. The Cape Cormorant is dark blue black with a yellow area below the beak. The scientific name of the Cape Cormorant is Phalacrocorax capensis.

Eastern White Pelican: The Eastern White Pelican is a seabird found on the coast of the Namib. It has a body length of up to 67 inches and a wing span of up to 129 inches. The Eastern White Pelican has white body color, a yellow bill and black wingtips. The scientific name of the Eastern WhitePelican is Pelecanus onocrotalus.

Greater/Lesser Flamingo: Both species of these birds are found in Namib. The Greater Flamingo is much larger than the Lesser Flamingo. The Lesser Flamingo is more red in color than the Greater Flamingo which is white. The Lesser Flamingo is about 40 inches tall and the Greater Flamingo is about 50 inches tall. The scientific name of the Greater Flamingo is Phoenicopterus ruber and the Lesser Flamingo is Phoenicopterus minor.

Lappertfaced Vulture : This bird is found in the Namib, is about 40 inches tall and has a bare skin head and is primarily brown in color. It has some white on the front of its body. The Pappertfaced Vulture's scientific name is Torgos tracheliotus.

Ostrich: The Ostrich is found throughout the Namib. It grows to a height of about six and one half feet. It is black and white in color and is the largest bird in Namib. The scientific name for the Ostrich is Struthiocamelus.

Target Grade Level:

Middle Level Students, grades 5-9

Materials Needed:

For each group of four students:

  • White tagboard, 8 1/2 x 11 inches or larger sufficient to trace animal outlines from downloaded animal templates:
  • Colored pencils/crayons/markers
  • Scissors
  • African bird field guide (optional - useful to get accurate color combinations for birds on mobile or use PBS program: The Living Edens "Namib")
  • Twelve feet of kite string or yarn
  • Two wire shirt/coat hangers


  1. Download bird image template for this activity: Flamingo, Jackass Penguin, Ostrich, Pelican
  2. Cut out images and trace them on tagboard
  3. Cut out images from tagboard and use color guide to color birds on each side of cutout
  4. Place two coat hangers in crisscrossed position and tie together with small amount of string or yarn
  5. Drop two feet of string from center of crisscrossed crossed coathangers and from each of the four corners.
  6. Punch small hole in the balancing point of each bird cutout and attach to string hanging from mobile.
  7. Hang mobile in classroom or home

Evaluation/Alternative Assessment:

Have students discuss the different birds found in The Living Edens "Namib" program and the Namib environment in which they live. Hang mobiles in the classroom and have each student choose a bird from the mobile to discuss.

Elementary extension:

The activity is well suited to elementary students. Most elementary gradeswill be able to trace, cut out and color birds and hang them on a mobile. The teacher may want to find animal stories about birds and read them to the class.

High School Extension:

Students can research African birds on the World Wide Web, construct advanced food chain diagrams from their research and hold class discussions regarding the balance of nature in the Namib.

Web Resources:



Cape Cormorant:

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