Coastal Habitats & Species—The Brant Project

Summary: Studying and monitoring shorebirds exposes students to a host of natural history and ecological principles that play a role in some of the longest migration found on earth. The Brant Monitoring Project has been developed for classrooms along the Pacific Flyway to participate in an on-going international monitoring of Brant geese populations while learning of their adaptations and habitat requirements that allow them to make this long journey every year. At a minimum this curriculum can be used in the classroom anywhere and later on be optionally expanded for field monitoring along the Brant’s migration route or adapted to observe many other species of shorebirds traveling through Oregon.

Concepts to teach: Natural history, adaptations of waterfowl survival, wetland and estuarine habitats, observation, data collection, graphing populations

Goals: Students will understand the ecology of shorebirds, specifically the Brant goose, along the Pacific Flyway through observation and field monitoring.

4.2L.1, 5.2L.1, 3.3S.2, 4.3S.2, 5.3S.2, SS.03.CG.04, SS.03.GE.01, SS.05.GE.01, SS.05.GE.02

Specific Objectives:

  1. Students will be able to describe the adaptations and habitat requirements of the Brant Goose and other migrating shorebirds.
  2. Students will be able to map and identify the Pacific and Atlantic Flyways locating wintering and breeding grounds.
  3. Students will use optics (spotting scopes and binoculars) to successfully identify shorebirds and observe behavior at a distance.
  4. Students will observe and count brant and other shorebirds using sampling techniques.

Activity Links and Resources:

  • The International Brant Monitoring Project Curriculum hosted by Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and designed by South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve. The curriculum was originally designed for middle school grade levels, but lessons have been used successfully with elementary students.
  • Migratory Superheroes! The Shorebird Sister Schools Program, USFWS, provides additional shorebird education materials, more opportunities for students to connect to other classrooms along the Pacific flyway, and where to go to observe shorebirds in Oregon.