Habitat and the Seasons
When Will Our Hummingbird Habitat be Ready?
(Student Photo Pages)

Materials: See Web and journal pages, below.

Begin this activity in the winter.


In this extended lesson, students explore the chain of sun-driven events that must occur before hummingbirds can return to their breeding habitat.

As spring advances, sunlight increases, and a host of natural events are set in motion. Temperatures rise, ice melts, soil warms, plants grow, flowers bloom, and the many links of the hummingbird's food chain come together again.

Tip: Read Reasons for Seasons: Background if you need a refresher on the relationship between sunlight and seasons.

Laying the Groundwork

1. List Habitat Needs: What does a hummingbird need from its habitat?
Ask the above question and make a list of hummingbird needs. Here are two options for exploring this question; use one or both to find out what students think:

a) Have students think about what they've observed or learned about hummingbirds. Document responses on chart paper. Revisit and revise these later in the year.
b) Have children view photos in When Will Our Hummingbird Habitat Be Ready?
and respond to the questions below each photo.

2. Look for Connections to the Seasons: Is the hummingbird's habitat "ready?"
Help students think backward from each habitat need they identified in #1 above. These include food (nectar and insects), water, and shelter/nesting spots. Ask, What seasonal changes need to happen in our neighborhood before hummingbirds can get what they need? Consider asking these types of questions to help them link ideas:

  • Teacher: Could hummingbirds get nectar here this time of year?
    No, there are no flowers.
  • Teacher: What has to happen for flowers to come out?
    The ground needs to thaw so plants can grow.
  • Teacher: What causes the ground thaw?
  • Teacher: What causes the warmth?
    The sun's energy increases in spring.
  • Teacher: What causes the sun's energy to increase?
    The changing season; our hemisphere gets more sunlight in the spring.

Exploration/Extension Ideas
Student Journal Page
Teacher's Version (example)

1. Make Predictions: Draw Chains of Connections

a) Together, discuss students' responses. Students should begin to realize that each new event is affected by the one before it — and that the sun is at the beginning of all of these chains.

b) Pass out the Chains of Connections journal page. Have students use it to illustrate their predictions about cause-and-effect relationships. (The teacher's version has an example.) Do this early in the season so students can document their predictions. They should continue to add to it, or to a new version, as they uncover new information during the season (see below).

Student Journal Page
2. Observe and Track Weather and Habitat Changes
How do events unfold from winter to spring? What causes what? What role does the weather play? As the season progresses, invite students to gather new information about how these factors link and interact. Consider these sources:

Review students' original and revised charts, journal pages, and responses to discussion questions. Use this assessment scale to document their understanding and abilities. Choose items appropriate to your study and grade level.

Also see these related activities and information: