Migration Headache
(Source: Project Wild, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources)

This game simulates the challenges that a population of birds migrating between their nesting grounds in the north and their wintering grounds in the south.  At either end of the flight, or along the way, the birds (campers) will encounter various hazards.

In a large open area, place a line of hula-hoops a metre or so apart in a line, and a corresponding number of hula-hoops in a line facing them about 30 metres away.  Each hula-hoop is a nest, and can only hold 3 birds (Mommy, Daddy & baby bird).  The campers gather at the “wintering grounds”, each with one foot touching a mat.  The instructor stands at the opposite end of the playing area near the other line of mats (the “nesting grounds”), and yells “Migrate!” All the “birds” have to run from their nests to the wintering grounds, and touch their foot to one of the mats – remembering that there can only be three birds to a mat.  Have a helper mark down how many birds made it successfully to the nesting grounds.

Have the birds practise migrating back to the wintering grounds again, and again mark down how many birds survived the trip.  At this point you can begin to introduce some of the factors which can affect bird survival.  For example, remove two mats from the nesting grounds and tell the group, “Oh no, developers came and drained a swampland for a new shopping centre. MIGRATE!”  This time when the birds run to the nesting grounds, not all of them will survive – “dead” birds are removed to the sidelines.  On the return to the wintering grounds, remove four mats from that end and say, “Oh no! The bulldozers came and filled in a pond for a new parking lot. MIGRATE!”  Continue this for a few rounds.  Every once in a while you can replace a mat at either end, with a statement like, “Oh look, Ducks Unlimited has purchased a wetland for waterfowl preservation!”  In these cases, the bird population can increase and some of those standing on the sidelines can return to the game.  Repeat the migration runs about ten times so you can chart the results.

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