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Be a Bird, Be a Scientist

Bird Hats Activity



1.    Familiarize yourself with the Cornell Lab’s Citizen Science projects, especially Celebrate Urban Birds

. Look over the pages you will be showing to the children (see #1 below).

 2.    Order BirdSleuth cards here and photocopy the back so you can display both sides of each card in a tabletop sign holder (8 ½” x 11”).
3.    Create example hats for each of the three species. See the supplies list for an outline of what you will need to create each bird hat. Use the following bill plans to create the bills:

•    House Sparrow
•    European Starling
•    Rock Pigeon

NOTE:  Before printing the document, you may need to use the Shrink-to-Fit option to be sure everything fits on the page. You can do this by using the File menu, clicking Print Preview and then the Shrink-to-Fit option.

4.     Print out the tabletop sign with instructions and place it next to the example hats and photos.  Print and cut out Hat Labels.


1.    Introduce the Cornell Lab and the Lab’s citizen science projects

  • Use the example of Celebrate Urban Birds (CUBs) as a fun and easy project: anyone can count birds just about anywhere and contribute the data to a national database, while learning more about birds and having fun. Show some of the pages from the CUBS website and/or the posters found in the CUBs registration packet (“Silhouettes” and ”Celebrate Urban Birds”). Click here to download the "Little Garden" poster.
  • You may want to have some CUBs registration packets available to give anyone interested in participating in this free program. Click here to register for CUBS, and here to download the "Little Garden" poster.

2.    Be a Bird

  • Put out photos of three common birds (BirdSleuth cards in plastic table stands): European Starling, House Sparrow, and Rock Pigeon. Put the example bird hat for each species in front of its photo.
  • Talk to children about each of the birds, maybe read some of the cool facts from the BirdSleuth card, and let them choose the bird they would like to “be.” Help them to gather the supplies and make their bird hat.

3.    See a Bird

  • After the children have made their hats, offer them a postcard. Tell them they can each be a scientist today by keeping track of how many birds they see for each of the three species featured at the table.  NOTE: for an outdoor activity children can look for real birds, for an indoor activity they can look for people “birds” (other children wearing hats of each species).
  • Explain how to count the birds and enter their counts on the postcard. Collect all the cards after they have filled them in, and tally the data as a group. Make a simple bar chart to illustrate the relative numbers of each species seen during the activity.


TIPS when helping children to create hats: (1) be sure they do any drawing before they begin to staple and tape. (2) When possible, staple headbands and caps with the smooth side in so it doesn’t catch on their hair. (3) the pigeon bill is a bit tricky, so it's best to try it out before hand (taping together the front of the bill so it creates a curved bill).