The Northern Mockingbird: An Introduction to Ethology for High School Students

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Catherine E. Matthews, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Observation is deeply rooted in ethology or the study of animal behavior. By observing bird behavior, we can learn a lot about animal behavior in general. The Northern mockingbird (Mimus polyglottus) is a good choice for a behavioral study for high school students, because, whereas most birds maintain a territory only during the breeding season, the Northern mockingbird holds a territory year round. A territory is an area where an animal spends most of its time. It contains important resources, and the animal defends these from other animals that may compete for them (Gill 1995). In this activity, students map mockingbirds' territories and describe at least 10 common behaviors of these birds. See Figure 1 for a short list of procedural steps. A study of the mockingbird can certainly be conducted with middle school students, although the activities described in this article were done with secondary school biology students. Middle school students would do better with a general observational study, rather than a detailed data analysis.

Additional Information

Science Activities, 36 (3), 27–32
Language: English
Date: 1999
Northern mockingbird, Behavioral study, High school students

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