The Magic of Bird Migration

Published On November 18, 2019
December 27, 2019 @ 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Presented by Brian Aust, Little River State Park Interpreter

Pre-register for the event online, only 75 spots available!

The Magic Of Bird Migration ~ Program Outline

Most birds that live on General Stark Mountain migrate thousands of miles a year using many special adaptations, all in search of seasonally available food sources. This program will explore how songbirds, shorebirds, raptors & waterfowl find their way thousands of miles back and forth each year. Includes interactive live-action role-playing game featuring 44 species of Audubon Bird Dolls.  This program explores how they do it using displays and experiential learning.



  1. Show how birds migrate between summering & wintering ranges.
  2. Discover why the vast majority of bird species developed this major adaptation.
  3. Familiarize audiences with:
    1. Geography and coarse-grain topography of the Western Hemisphere via migration maps and activity using customized “playing field.”
    2. Recent glacial geologic history & associated climate changes
    3. What birds need to survive when making their annual journeys.
  4. Introduce some migratory bird species that use General Stark Mountain seasonally


Outline:  Program starts with all the Audubon bird dolls arranged to greet those who attend.  A volunteer from the audience is called upon to count how many different birds are here, after which everyone takes a few minutes to check them all out, squeeze them so they sing, and ask questions.  While answering, birds that migrate are separated out from those that don’t, creating a proportion which is used to show what percentage of the local bird population migrates.  Using the National Geographic maps, the mechanisms of how birds migrate are revealed, including: hormonal response to photoperiod (a.k.a. angle of the sun in spring/fall); following major landforms (coastlines, rivers and mountain ranges; how it was sh the Earth’s magnetic; ability to follow the arrangement of stars; strategic differences (raptors by day & songbirds by night, shorebirds, lateral east/west& elevational migration of certain species, etc.) and ability to detect & use magnetic north.  Participants are then asked to choose a bird doll and are given a corresponding playing card.  Using the ‘playing field,’ participants are then instructed to find their bird’s summer breeding range using the color-coded range map on the back of the playing card.  Once participants have settled on a spot, they are then told to ‘migrate’ on the playing card to wherever their card shows that bird species’ wintering range.  The playing field should at minimum show coastlines, but with preparation could also show the Appalachians, Rockies, the West Coast mountain ranges and the Mississippi River