School Programs

Bird Conservancy of the Rockies offers programs for schools in the field at our Environmental Learning Center at Barr Lake State Park in Brighton, Colorado, and in the school’s classroom. Scholarships are available to assist with bus and program fees.

Click below to learn about our school programs in Colorado.

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Field Trips

Barr Lake Bird Watching Field Trips

Barr Lake features many different types of birds including songbirds, falcons, hawks, colonial nesting birds, waterfowl and Bald Eagles. On this field trip, students will explore this dynamic wildlife oasis just outside Denver and learn how and why nearly 80 different species of birds are able to coexist using different parts of this ecosystem. Students will learn how to use binoculars to view birds, and educators will teach about bird adaptations, habitat needs and the successful recovery of the once-endangered Bald Eagle. More importantly, students will have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty that can be found right in their backyard!
Dates: Late March – May 31
Time: Morning field trips recommended
Grades: 1 – adult
Duration: 1.5-2 hours
Maximum Number of Participants: 60 students per 2-hour program
Location: Barr Lake State Park, 13401 Picadilly Road, Brighton, CO
Program Fee: $5 per student, plus a $7 state park fee for each vehicle (the program fee includes an in-class pre-trip program)
Meets Colorado Science Standards 1, 2, 3 and 5

Barr Lake Banding Station Field Trips

Every spring and fall, thousands of birds stop to rest and eat at Barr Lake during their migratory journey. Spend a morning with a Bird Conservancy bird bander at Barr Lake State Park. Your students will get an “up-close and personal” experience with nature while they watch a wildlife biologist place a band on migrating birds captured harmlessly in mist nets. Students will also participate in other migration-related activities and observe wildlife on a hike along Barr Lake.
Dates: September – mid-October
Time: 7-11 a.m.
Duration: 2 hours
Maximum Number of Participants: 60 students
Location: Barr Lake State Park, 13401 Picadilly Road, Brighton, CO
Program Fee: $5 per student, plus a $7 state park fee for each vehicle. In-class follow up programs are only $1 per person.
Meets Colorado Science Standards 1, 2, 3 and 5

Spring Field Trips

Field trips can focus on birds, biology and outdoor exploration. Students “spring” into action as a biologist to observe birds and research life in a prairie ecosystem. Choose from a variety of program options (see below) where students explore water, the shortgrass prairie and the relationship of a bird’s structure to its function.
Dates: April – May
Duration: 2-4 hours
Program Fee: $5 per student, plus a $7 state park fee for each vehicle. Follow-up in-class programs are only $1 per person.

Bird Structure and Function

Theme: Bird structure: What’s your function?

Goals: On this field trip, students will …

  1. Observe birds in their natural habitat and connect three of a bird’s specific structures to the function for which the structures are adapted.
  2. Identify the four basic needs of birds (food, water, shelter and space) and determine what happens to birds when those needs are no longer met.
  3. Make connections between how bird structures are adapted for survival in specific niches within a single environment or habitat.
  4. Observe how different bird species utilize different niches and how this lets many different bird species live within a single environment or habitat.
  5. Classify birds into different groups by their structures.

Objectives: After this field trip, students will be able to…

  1. Observe birds in their backyard and classify them into different groups of birds.
  2. List birds’ four basic needs for survival.
  3. Observe a bird and determine the niche it fills within an environment or habitat.
  4. Determine the function a bird structure helps fulfill.
  5. Observe a habitat or environment and determine ways it could be improved to support a variety of niches.

Shortgrass Prairie

Theme: Colorado’s biodiversity depends on the shortgrass prairie

Goals: On this field trip, students will…

  1. Connect with the shortgrass prairie ecosystem, which makes up more than half of the state.
  2. Understand the importance of biodiversity in maintaining an ecosystem.
  3. Illustrate the history of the Old Stone House/Barr Lake site.
  4. Take part in a service learning project to help restore prairie habitat by removing non-native plant species.

Objectives: After this field trip, students will be able to …

  1. Explain why the Colorado shortgrass prairie is important to their survival.
  2. Describe their connection to Colorado’s shortgrass prairie.
  3. Identify the diversity in Colorado’s shortgrass prairie.
  4. List threats to the Colorado shortgrass prairie.
  5. Tell a historical story about the site and why it is healthy today.

Colorado Water

Theme: Colorado’s biodiversity depends on the shortgrass prairie

Goals: On this field trip, students will learn …

  1. There is very little fresh water on the earth.
  2. Colorado has scarce fresh water due to its environment and where Colorado’s water comes from.
  3. The history of Barr Lake.
  4. Which waterfowl make Colorado home and depend on its water.
  5. Why places like Barr Lake should be kept unpolluted and clean for animals to use.
  6. How scientists test for water quality by doing some experiments of their own.

Objectives: After this field trip, students will be able to …

  1. Understand and list the reasons Barr Lake and other water habitats are important for humans and wildlife in Colorado.
  2. Explain how water quality affects the health and quality of wildlife and humans living in certain environments.
  3. Explain the changes they can make in their lives to keep Colorado water clean.
  4. Understand why it is important to preserve and protect wilderness areas for wildlife health and survival.
  5. Describe human activities that affect water quality and ways their actions can improve water quality in Colorado.
  6. Identify the features of waterfowl that make them specialized for survival in Colorado’s water habitats.

Custom Programs

Would you like us to design a program for you? If you are interested in a bird-related topic that is not already offered, we can help you design a program for your students or group. Programs can be unique and tailored to fit your class curriculum. They can be taught either in the classroom or as a field trip.
Dates: Any time of year
Time: Any time of day
Grades: 1 – adult
Duration: 1-2 hours
Maximum Number of Participants: Varies
Location: Varies
Programs can be designed to fit into multiple grade-level standards. Costs will vary.

In-Class Programs

Bird Conservancy’s in-class programs can be a follow-up program or pre-trip program for schools attending field trips, or a stand-alone program for schools that do not attend a field trip. In-class programs are designed to increase students’ understanding of science, math, geography, art and language arts by using birds as the context for learning.

In-class programs are available September through April. Sessions run 45 minutes to 1 hour and cost $4/student (unless stated otherwise). Sessions are limited to 30 students, but multiple sessions can be scheduled for the same day. A teacher or chaperone is required to be present during programs. Partial and full need-based scholarships may be available upon request. For more details or to request a program, please contact Alie Mayes at alie@bcr.eco. More information about each of the in-class programs can be found below.

Live Bird Banding Demo

We bring science to your school with a mobile bird banding station. Students have the opportunity to see how we catch wild birds and complete the banding process. The program duration can run between 1 and 3 hours, with 2-3 additional activities related to bird migration. This program must run in the morning and there must be adequate outdoor space available at the school. We cannot guarantee that we will catch birds, but we can guarantee fun!
Program fee: $10/student. Scholarships are not available for this program.
Recommended Grade Levels: K-12
Topics addressed: STEM careers, bird banding, scientific process, migration, adaptations

Model Bird Banding

Students become the bird banders in this hands-on activity. Students take turns moving through the bird banding process by extracting, measuring, identifying and banding model birds. These model birds have been created to match to proportions and field marks of real bird species so that students have the opportunity to work through the process of identifying their birds. This program is a great indoor alternative to the live banding demonstration.
Recommended Grade Levels: 3-9
Topics addressed: STEM careers, migration, bird banding, scientific process

Beautiful Birds

Students explore the unique features and adaptations of birds through observation and art. Students create a habitat drawing and make a model clay bird, and then have the opportunity to report out to their peers about where their bird lives, what it eats, and what adaptations help it survive in its habitat. Creativity is encouraged!
Recommended Grave Levels: 1-6
Topics addressed: adaptations, habitat, art, birds, niche

Colorado Water

Students explore the watershed and water pollution using a hands-on watershed model. Students then transform into water molecules and travel through the water cycle in an interactive game. The class works together to write the story of a water molecule’s incredible journey through the water cycle.
Recommended Grade Levels: 2-6
Topics addressed: watershed, water pollution, water cycle, storytelling

Feathers and Flight

Explore the wonders of feathers! Students will learn that feathers are unique to birds, gain insights into how feathers evolved, and explore the structure and function of feathers. Teachers then have the option for their students to further explore flight through an interactive online game or to get up and moving with a flight vs. ground movement relay race challenge.
Recommended grade level: 4-8
Topics addressed: evolution, adaptations, birds, feathers, flight, observations, critical thinking

What Makes a Bird a Bird?

What makes birds unique from each other and from other animals? How are birds’ bodies similar to and different from our bodies? Do all birds sing the same songs and behave the same way? Do all birds live in trees? These are just some of the questions students will explore through dress-up, inquiry, and hands-on activities.
Recommended Grade Levels: PreK-1
Topics addressed: observations, inquiry, compare and contrast, types of animals

Colorado’s Unique Ecosystems and Birds

Students work together in small groups to learn about and design a drawing of one of Colorado’s seven ecosystems, including the unique plants, animals, and land features found there. Students then work to determine which bird belongs in each ecosystem based on the bird’s specific adaptations.
Recommended Grade Levels: 3-6
Topics addressed: ecosystems, habitat, adaptations, critical thinking, art, research skills

Migration Mapping

Students’ understanding of migratory patterns and geography will be enhanced while they discover the factors that drive bird migration. Students will use bird banding data to map the migratory routes of four bird species banded at the Bird Conservancy Banding Station.
Recommended Grade Levels: 3-8
Topics addressed: mapping, geography, teamwork, migration, habitat needs

Migration Data

Students will use critical thinking skills to determine the factors that drive bird migration. They will then work in groups to graph and analyze migratory data from four birds banded at the Bird Conservancy Banding Station.
Recommended Grade Levels: 5-9
Topics addressed: graphing, teamwork, migration, habitat needs, data analysis

Conservation Debate

Students become the key stakeholders of a conservation debate, stepping outside of their own perspectives to better understand the views of others. Students work in small groups to research and prepare a case that supports the stakeholder group that they represent. Students will also have the opportunity to form respectful rebuttals to other groups’ presentations.
Recommended Grade Levels: 9-12
Topics addressed: empathy, conservation, respect, research, critical thinking, habitat needs

Half-Day Bird Festival

Middle or high school students become role models for elementary school students in this program. Older students will be trained on leading bird festival activities and then lead the half-day festival for the younger students. Program fee is dependent on the number of participants.
100 participants or less: $3/student
100-199 participants: $2/student
200 or more participants: $1/student
Recommended Grade Levels: K-6 for the festival activities; 5-12 for the activity leaders
Topics addressed: STEM careers, bird banding, scientific process, migration, adaptations

For registration assistance:

Jennifer Watson
Education Program Manager
(303) 659-4348 x19
jennifer.watson@birdconservancy.org

For more information about Field Trips:
Sherry Nickolaus
Field Trips Coordinator
(303) 659-4348 x11
sherry.nickolaus@birdconservancy.org

For more information about In-class Programs:
Alexandra Mayes
Outreach Coordinator
(303) 659-4348 x10
alexandra.mayes@birdconservancy.org