Click to see how many people are online

2nd & 3rd

Habitats, Adaptations, Birding, & Life Cycles

Topic- Habitats, Adaptations, Birding, & Life Cycles

Background and Summary- Awareness of the DIFFERENCES IN NATURE is at the introductory level of environmental education, and the purpose of this field trip. Students will:

  • Take a guided tour through the THORNFOREST, CACTUS GARDEN, and RUBY POND, to search for animals that live in differen HABITATS;
  • Investigate different BODY ADAPTATIONS on animals, (or STRUCTURES on plants) that help them survive.
  • Learn about bird biology, and identify common native backyard BIRDS by sound and sight.
  • Compare LIFE CYCLES of animals and plant life cycles.
Grade Level- 2nd & 3rd (may be modified for different age groups.)


  • Outdoors: Amphitheater (Birding Pod); Forest Trails & Ruby Pond (Habitat Pod)
  • Indoor: Discovery Museum (Adaptations Pod); Discovery Lab (Life Cycle Pod)
Location- Quinta Mazatlan, McAllen 600 Sunset Dr.

Contact- Education Supervisor, Carol Goolsby (956) 681-3370

Duration- 3 hours 9:00 am- Noon Four 35-45 minute pods (depending on arrival time)

Suggested- Maximum of 4 class groups. (Accommodations may be made for 5 to 6 class)

Conditions- Must have a minimum of 10 students.

Reservations- Required in Advance. Dates are confirmed once payment or (P.O.) and reservation form are received.

Activities/ Objectives-

Students will:


  • Understand the 4 components of "habitats": food, water, shelter, and space
  • Explore, investigate a pond, and analyze the different habitat components in a: pond, cactus garden, and forest
  • See firsthand the consequences of removing the top predator in a "food chain" on the other members of the "ecosystem".


  • Identify 5 common backyard birds (by call and sight), and 5 native plants
  • Practice using binoculars to see birds up close

Visit the HANDS-ON DISCOVERY MUSEUM: Students rotate through 9 stations, each with a different forest creature, highlighting the body adaptations that have helped its species survive. Animals include: mountain lions, bobcat, deer, tortoise, coyote, snake, and insects.


  • Compare life cycles of animals and plants
  • Indoor presentation of living organisms and non-living models displaying varying stages of life cycle of different animals
  • Outdoor demonstration of seed planting & life cycles of plants

(A) observe and describe the physical characteristics of environments and how they support populations and communities within an ecosystem.

(B) predict how changes in a food chain affect the ecosystem.

(9) Organisms and environments. The student knows that organisms have characteristics that help them survive.

(10) Organisms and environments. The student knows that organisms undergo similar life processes and have structures that help them survive within their environments. The student is expected to: (A) explore how structures and functions of plants and animals allow them to survive in a particular environment;

10 (C) investigate and compare how animals and plants undergo a series of orderly changes in their diverse life cycles such as tomato plants, frogs, and lady bugs.

Key Terms-

Habitat- The natural home or environment of an animal, plant, or other organism. Its 4 components are: FOOD, WATER, SHELTER, (PROTECTION), SPACE.

Ecosystem- A biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment.

Pond- A small body of still water, usually smaller than a lake. Habitat elements: plentiful water and food, good protection and space.

Desert- A dry ecological region with little rainfall, and therefore fewer plants. Habitat elements: scarce water, mostly stored in plants; food: small insects, cacti, rodents, lizards; shelter/protection: underground; cactus patches; space- good.

Forest- A large area covered with trees and under-story plants. Habitat elements: food: good; water- some; protection- dense branches, underground; space for small animals and birds; more difficult for large animals to move through.

Canopy- Upper layer of the forest where trees reach they sky.

Mid-Story- Middle layer of a forest- where most birds are found.

Under-Story- Ground level of a forest.

Carnivore- Animals that eat other animals.

Herbivore- Animals that eat plants.

Omnivore- Animals that eat both plants and animals.

Predator- An animal that must capture or eaten by a pedator.

Prey- An animal that is captured or eaten by a pedator.

Food Chain- A series of organisms, each depending on the next as a source of food. Usually drawn as a "pyramid".

Adaptations: Structure in plants or animals that help them survive.

Mammal- A warm-blooded vertebrate (animal with a backbone) that has hair, secretes milk for its young, and gives birth to live young.

Reptile- A cold-blooded vertebrate (animal with a backbone) that has scales.


  • Trail walk and Bird pods will attempt to proceed using Quinta umbrellas.
  • Trail walk lesson will go indoors to watch the Habitat movie in the Quinta Visitor Center.
  • Bird pod will proceed to the Cottage to complete the Feather and Bird identification study, then practice using binoculars form a covered patio. Extra activities will be provided as needed to focus on children learning birds.
  • When possible, lunch time will be arranged differently to allow for rains to pass.
  • What are the four components of a "HABITAT"?
  • Which habitat would a frog be happiest in: a pond, forest, or desert?
  • What is the SAME about the life cycles of plants and animals? What is different?
  • Name 5 different birds and 5 different plants you might see in your town. Tell one thing special about each.

Contact Us
Quinta Mazatlan

600 Sunset Drive
McAllen, TX 78504

(956) 681-3370

Send us an Email