A smiling child holding a toy eagle

Bird song book and bird-related activities

Can your student identify birds by their song or characteristics? Combine classroom activities with an O&M trip to the pet store for hands-on experience!

Spring is here, bringing warm temperatures and all kinds of birds and calming bird songs. Can you identify the type of bird that sings these songs? This simple Bird Song book is wonderful for young students, students with CVI, and students with multiple disabilities. Each page has a brightly colored simple bird, a repetitive sentence that names the type of bird, a read aloud button and a bird song button – all on a black background.

These ePub books can be opened on any device and with a variety of applications, including iBooks on an iPad. Young students and students with multiple disabilities can easily (and often independently) tap the buttons to activate the sounds.

Bird Songs ePub, created by TVI Andrea Bilello

Bird concepts for young students

There are many bird-related concepts that require students to understand that there are different types of birds, and each bird type has unique characteristics.

When introducing birds to young BLV students, have hands-on opportunities to explore a bird nest, a real feather, etc. Talk about the bird’s unique features, such as the bird’s feet and beak. Discuss how parrots have feet with two “talons” that face forward and two talons that face backwards, which allows the bird to grip and climb twigs and small branches. (This is called a “zygodactyle” or “yoke-toed” foot.)

Discuss how bird beaks are different according to the type of bird and what they eat. Explain that birds do not have teeth; although some birds have beaks with ridges. Birds swallow their food whole and their gizzard (a muscular part of their stomach) grinds up the food so they can digest it.

If possible, ask a parent, teacher or friend to bring in a real pet bird such as a friendly cockatoo or parrot. If the bird is friendly and the student is willing, have the student pet the bird, and/or let the bird perch on his/her arm.

O&M Lesson: While learning about birds, collaborate with the student’s O&M or with the student’s family to take the student to a pet store that has birds. Make arrangements with the store to have someone available to talk about the various birds that they have, the bird’s habitat, food, etc. Many stores will assist a BLV student to touch friendly birds and possible let the bird perch on the student.

In the pictures below, a visually impaired 4 year old, Victor, is doing a series of O&M lessons at Petsmart. In the first picture, Victor is sitting in the car before entering the store. The smiling boy examines a Beanie Baby stuffed bird as he finds and names the various parts of the bird. During these O&M lessons, Victor uses his adaptive mobility device to travel independently as he learns the layout of the store and the different departments within the store. The second picture is taken on a different day. After learning the basic store layout, Victor had the opportunity to explore different departments within the store. In this picture, Victor is standing in front of a floor-to-ceiling bird cage with his hand cautiously touching a cockato bird. The bird is being held by the store staff person, as she explains more about the bird. While Victor recognized the feathers, this was his first experience feeling the texture and shape of a real beak and a bird’s feet.

Smiling 4 year old VI boy sitting in a car examining a Beanie Baby stuffed bird.
4 year old VI boy in Petsmart cautiously touching a bird that is being held my a staff person.

Additional bird types

If your student is ready to dive deeper into birds, talk about different types of bird feet – such as birds who have webbed feet (ducks, geese, swans, gulls, and other aquatic birds). Webbed feet propel these birds through water. Predator birds (eagles, hawks and owls) have talons or claws which they use to catch and dismember prey. Song birds and other perching birds have four toes, with the first toe (called a hallux) is turned backwards. This enables the bird’s toes to grasp a branch.

Different types of birds have different types of beaks. Here is why:

Create tactile images of various types of birds, beaks or bird’s feet for comparison purposes. Below is a worksheet that shows the outline image of 8 different bird heads and beaks: Duck, heron, sandpiper, hummingbird, warbler, finch, woodpecker and hawk. The bird worksheet without text can be printed on Swell paper and run through a tactile graphics machine to create a raised line image. Or, use the bird worksheet to create your own tactile images using various textures. Can your student identify the different type of beaks?

Outline image of 8 bird heads with different types of beaks.

Writing prompt: What would happen if birds had flat feet? What would happen if birds had lips instead of beaks?

Research: Research a bird and learn more about why that bird’s body, beak, feet, wings, etc. help the bird survive.

Attached file(s)

By Diane Brauner

Updated March 2024; original post published May 2022.

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