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The Living Edens
Patagonia or Namib, Where Do I Belong?

Instructional Objectives
Background Material
Evaluation / Alternative Assessment
Web Resources

Instructional Objectives:

Students will:
  1. Identify the African Ostrich from PBS' The Living Edens "Namib" program and the Rhea from PBS' The Living Edens "Patagonia" program
  2. Compare and contrast the two species in regard to appearance and behavior
  3. Compare and contrast the biomes in which the two species exist, one in Namib and one in Patagonia

Background Material:

The Ostrich of Namib and the Rhea of Patagonia are very similar birds. Both are very large birds and are about the size of man. The Ostrich lives in Africa and is found in Namib and the Rhea is found in Patagonia, the southern end of South America.

The Ostrich is the largest living bird. It grows to a height of 6-7 feet and weighs over 300 pounds. The Ostrich has very large eyes which account for its excellent vision. The male Ostrich is black with white feathers on the wings and tail. The neck of the Ostrich appears to be bare skin. The female Ostrich is grey. Both male and female have two toes and can run up to 50 miles per hour. The often travel in pairs and can be seen in small groups. The Ostrich is a herbivor for the most part, feeding on leaves and flowers. The Ostrich is capable of severe injury to anything that threatens it, using its feet to kick the offender. The Ostrich can be found in grasslands, brush, forests and desert.

The Rhea of Patagonia is one of the largest birds of South America and is found in Patagonia, southern Argentina. The Rhea grows to a height of about five feet and weighs about 50-60 pounds. The Rhea has three toes and is very similar to the Ostrich. Males and female Rheas are very similar; however, males tend to be a little taller. Rheas are also able to swim. Rheas like to travel in flocks of up to 30 individuals. The primary habitat of the Rhea is in the grasslands of Patagonia. They prefer the tall grass but will move to a wet area such as a stream or wetland during certain periods. The Rhea feeds on both plants and animals. It will eat leaves and roots as well as insects. (Campbell, Bruce, and Elizabeth Lack, A Dictionary of Birds, Buteo Books, Vermillion, 1985, pp. 416-417)

Materials Needed:


Students will:
  1. View the two PBS programs The Living Edens "Namib" and "Patagonia"
  2. Identify the Ostrich in Namib and the Rhea in Patagonia and record observable characteristics of each bird in their science journals
  3. Discuss the characteristics in groups of 3-4 and develop a master list of agreed upon likenesses and differences
  4. Identify the biome(s) in which each bird is found and state characteristics of each of the biomes, Namib and Patagonia in class discussion

Evaluation/Alternative Assessment

Drawings of the Ostrich and the Rhea should be displayed in class or the hallways of the school. A life size Ostrich and/or Rhea might be a good way for students to recognize the large size of these birds. Recorded data in science journals, a check list on the board by the teacher with Rhea on one side and Ostrich on the other, and group presentations of similarities and differences might also be a good way to assess what students have learned from this activity.

Elementary Extension:

Elementary students may color the Ostrich and Rhea bird templates included in this lesson. The teacher may also find a story of birds to read to students. Additionally, you may want to role play an Ostrich and a Rhea after watching The Living Edens programs.

High School Extension:

High school students can research the more specific elements of food, behavior, phisiology, and distribution of the Ostrich and Rhea.

Additionally, they might want to research and collect data on the Emu of Austrailia.

Web Resources:


Ostrich :


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