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Raptors of Arizona

Here are some ideas to incorporate the Raptors of Arizona poster into your sixth grade classroom. The appropriate standards are listed below each activity.


Raptors are commonly divided into different groups based on their similarities and differences. Some of these groups are falcons, accipiters, and buteos. Use the Internet to research the different raptor groups. What are the differences between the groups? Which group has the most species? The least? Which groups are more closely related to each other? Can you identify which raptors on the poster belong to which groups? Are there raptor groups that are not found in Arizona?

  • Technology: Standard 5, Essential 1, Objective 4

Comparing Speeds

The peregrine falcon is an extremely fast bird. It can dive at approximately 270 miles per hour. But how does this compare to other animals? The pronghorn is the fastest land animal in North America and the cheetah is the fastest land animal in the world. Use the Internet to research how fast these animals can travel. Try to determine the fastest aquatic animal? How do these animals compare to the peregrine? Is there a bird that travels faster?

  • Technology: Standard 5, Essential 1, Objective 4


Using the “What Hawks Eat” paper, select three of the hawks and make a pie chart for each one showing the amount of their food that comes from different prey. How do the graphs compare? Does the size of the bird appear to make a difference in the types of food they eat? Research has shown that housecats left outside feed on much of the same prey as raptors. In fact, research has shown that 65% of their diet is small mammals, 25% birds, and 10% is reptiles, amphibians, and insects. Make a pie chart for housecats. Which of your three raptors does the housecat seem to be the most similar to?

  • Math: Strand 2, Concept 1, Objective 3

Eagle Eyes

An eagle is capable of spotting its prey from over one mile away. Find a rock or other small, mouse-sized object and place it in the middle of a large field or park. Walk away from the object until you can no longer see it. Mark your location and measure the distance from the object. How far away is it? How much better is an eagle’s eyesight?

  • Science: Strand 1, Concept 2, Objective 4


It is not uncommon to find birds perching on power lines. Most of the time, these lines pose no threat to the animals. However, they can be extremely dangerous, if not deadly, to larger birds, like hawks. Why do you think that larger birds are at a greater risk of electrocution if they perch on power lines? What solutions can you propose that would keep these birds from being electrocuted? Write a brief letter to the local power company explaining your ideas.

  • Writing: Strand 3, Concept 3, Objective 2

Endangered in Arizona?

The bald eagle was recently removed from the endangered species list. However, there is still debate in Arizona about the eagles found in the state. Some people believe they are unique enough and should be considered a subspecies of the eagles found in the rest of the country and remain on the endangered species list. What do you think? What advantages and disadvantages are there for leaving the Arizona eagles on the list? Write a short essay explaining your position.

  • Writing: Strand 3, Concept 4, Objective 1

Height vs. Wingspan

Is there a relationship between the height of a bird and its wingspan? Let’s find out. Research the heights and wingspans of the raptors on the poster. Graph this data. Does there appear to be a trend or is the data random? What explanation can you provide for this result? Measure the heights and “wingspans” of the students in your class. Graph these results. How does the class data compare to the raptors?

  • Math: Strand 2, Concept 1, Objective 2
  • Math: Strand 2, Concept 1, Objective 3
  • Math: Stran 2, Concept 1, Objective 6


Many Native American cultures consider raptors to be very important animals. They have legends, ceremonies, and traditions centered around the birds, particularly eagles, owls, and hawks. Choose one of the raptors featured on the poster. Use the Internet to research the various beliefs the Native American tribes found in Arizona have about that animal.

  • Technology: Standard 5, Essential 1, Objective 4

Pest Control

Raptors are birds of prey, meaning they eat smaller animals. As a result, they are an important component of the ecosystem. They help control the population of small animals. Without raptors, there might be too many mice and rabbits. But how much? Let’s take a look. Pretend a cottontail rabbit gives birth to an average of three young per litter and has about four litters per year. If half of the rabbits are female, and they can reproduce when they are 3 months old, how many rabbits could there be after one year? Three years? Five years? Rabbits eat grass and other plants. What do you think would happen to the ecosystem if there were no predators to control the rabbits?

  • Math: Strand 1, Concept 2, Objective 2


One of the main reasons bald eagles became endangered was the use of a very powerful pesticide called DDT. This chemical caused their eggs to become very weak. The shells became so thin that they could not support the weight of the parents trying to keep them warm. As a result, the eggs would not hatch. Try an experiment to simulate this situation. Place one egg in a glass of water and one in a glass of vinegar. Observe both eggs for a day or two. What is happening? Carefully remove both eggs from the glasses and place each one on a separate plate. Which egg do you think is stronger? Place a book or other weight on top of each egg. How many books can you use before each egg breaks?

  • Science: Strand 1, Concept 1, Objective 2

Wing Speed

A kestrel can flap its wings 47 times in 10 seconds, an eagle can flap 25 times in 10 seconds, and an owl can flap 35 times in 10 seconds. How many times would each bird flap its wings in one minute? Pretend each bird was flying at 30 miles per hour. If the owl flew for 25 minutes, how long would the kestrel and the eagle need to fly in order to flap their wings the same number of times as the owl? If the kestrel flew for 45 miles, the eagle flew for 90 miles, and the owl flew for 45 miles, which bird would flap its wings the most?

  • Math: Strand 1, Concept 2, Objective 2

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