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Lesson Four: Love Songs

What do birds use songs for?

National Science Education Standards

Content Standard A: Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry

  • Understanding about scientific inquiry.
  • Employ simple equipment and tools to gather data and extend the senses.

Content Standard C: Life Science

  • The characteristics of organisms
  • Organisms and their environments

Content Standard E: Science and Technology

  • Abilities to distinguish between natural objects and objects made by humans.

Objectives: NCSCOS Science

Competency Goal One: The learner will conduct investigations and build an understanding of animal life cycle.

Competency Goal Four: The learner will conduct investigations and use appropriate technology to build an understanding of the concepts of sound.

NCSCOS Music Objectives

GOAL 5: The learner will read and notate music. (National Standard 5)

  • 5.01 Read simple rhythmic notation including quarter notes, eighth notes, and quarter rests.

GOAL 6: The learner will listen to, analyze, and describe music. (National Standard 6)

  • 6.03 Use appropriate terminology in explaining music, music notation, music instruments and voices, and music performances.
  • 6.07 Show respect while listening to and analyzing music.

GOAL 8: The learner will understand relationships between music, the other arts, and content areas outside the arts. (National Standard 8)

8.02 Identify ways in which the principles and subject matter of other content areas taught in the school are related to those of music.


Birds use calls and songs to attract a mate and to establish their territory. In most species, males are the doers (performers) and females are the listeners (audience/consumer).

Background information for teacher:


Book called Birdsongs by Betsy Franco and Steve Jenkins, bird sound recordings, pictures of male and female birds


  • Song — a musical composition that contains vocal parts that are performed ("sung")
  • Call – an animal vocalization providing communication


45 min

Process Skills:

  • Observe
  • Communicate
  • Measure
  • Predict

Procedure: (Engage, Explore)

  1. Read the story Birdsongs by Betsy Franco and Steve Jenkins.
  2. Discuss the different calls and words we use to describe each.
    • Tat, tat, tat;
    • coo, coo, coo;
    • chip chip chip;
    • eeyah eeyah;
    • dee dee dee;
    • caw caw caw
  3. Listen to some bird calls and try to identify some of the words that would match the songs or calls.
  4. Ask students if the males or females are singing. Discuss how males are the singers in most species. (the female northern cardinal does sing too)
  5. Look at male and female pictures of cardinals, ducks, red-winged blackbird, peacock. Ask students to predict which are male and which are female.
  6. Discuss how males are brighter and females are usually duller in color.
  7. Explore rhythmic and melodic patterns of each species birdsongs. Allow students to determine whether the song patterns change or replicate themselves according to species or gender.
  8. Establish 10 groups to imitate the vocal and rhythmic call of the birds represented in Birdsongs. Using flashcards have the bird’s call on one side of the card and its corresponding rhythmic interpretation (or you could allow the students to create their own rhythms) on the other side. Ex. Crow d d
    • (Caw caw)
  9. Re-read Birdsongs. Using the vocal imitations of each group students will create a synthetic soundscape as each bird is introduced in the story. All groups will represent the mockingbird which imitates everyone’s call.
  10. Explore solo and ensemble music.

Class Reflection: (Explain)

  1. What do birds use vocalizations for? (claim territory and attract a mate)
  2. What two ways are males and females different? [Coloring, vocalizations: one is the doer (performer) and one is the listener (audience/consumer)].

Elaborate: (Extend)

Authentic Assessment: (Evaluate)

  • Group Participation