Bringing Up Birdy
Lesson Overview

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TIME ALLOTMENT: One to two 45-minute class periods


Students learn that living things experience diverse life cycles. For example, baby birds go through distinct stages as they grow up into adult birds. This lesson uses the eagle to model universal avian life stages: from egg, to chick, to fledgling juvenile, to adult.

Students begin by creating a collage of bird images, discussing the characteristics that all birds share. A well-known story, The Ugly Duckling, is then read to introduce the concept of change over the life span. Students then use segments from the NATURE film American Eagle to learn how eagles look and act in different stages of their life cycle. At the conclusion of the lesson, students diagram the eagle life cycle, and may enhance their science learning with vocabulary and math activities.


Science, Language Arts


Students will be able to:

  • Describe the characteristics of birds;
  • Understand that different kinds of birds display a wide variety of similarities and differences;
  • Identify the stages in the life cycle of birds;
  • Understand vocabulary associated with the life cycle of birds;
  • Diagram the life cycle of the American Bald Eagle.


From the National Science Standards for Science Content, Grades K-4.

As a result of activities in grades K-4, all students should develop understanding of:


  • Plants and animals have life cycles that include being born, developing into adults, reproducing, and eventually dying. The details of this life cycle are different for different organisms.
  • Plants and animals closely resemble their parents.
  • Many characteristics of an organism are inherited from the parents of the organism, but other characteristics result from an individual’s interactions with the environment. Inherited characteristics include the color of flowers and the number of limbs of an animal. Other features, such as the ability to ride a bicycle, are learned through interactions with the environment and cannot be passed on to the next generation.



NATURE: American Eagle, selected segments

Clip 1: “Challenges of Incubation”

Eagles must protect their eggs from cold, snow and predators.

Clip 2: “Hatching”

For eagles, getting the hang of parenting takes practice.

Clip 3: “Fledglings”

Fledglings begin to fly.

Clip 4: “Growing Independent”

Young eagles learn to catch food.

Access the streaming and downloadable video segments for this lesson at the Video Segments Page.


For the class:

  • Nature and wildlife magazines (or pictures of birds from other sources)
  • Scissors and glue
  • Oaktag, posterboard or construction paper
  • Feathers (optional)
  • Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling (or any other storybook demonstrating changes in the bird life cycle)
  • Photo of an American Bald Eagle
  • Computer and projection system for class viewing of video segments

For each student:

  • Eagle life cycle student organizer (PDF) (RTF), or 4 sheets of paper to complete life cycle drawings
  • Pencil and crayons or markers

Prep for Teachers

Prior to teaching this lesson, you will need to:

Ask students to bring in nature and wildlife magazines from home.

Preview all of the video segments used in the lesson.

Download the video clips used in the lesson to your classroom computer, or prepare to watch them using your classroom’s Internet connection.

If desired, make a word wall of any of the following vocabulary words your students do not yet know: Egg, chick, eagle, eaglet, incubate, fledgling, hatch, instinct, endangered species.


  • ann

    hello pople

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