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2nd & 3rd

Habitats, Adaptations, Birding, & Life Cycles

Topic- Habitats, Adaptation, Birding, & Life Cycles

Background and Summary- Awareness of the DIFFERENCES IN NATURE is 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 different 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 cycle.

Grade Levels- 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, Victor De Leon, (956) 681-3370

Duration- 3 hours 9:00 am- Noon or 11:30am to 2:30pm Four 34-45 minute pod (depending on arrival time)

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

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 "ecosystems".


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

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


  • Compare life cycles of animals and plants
  • Indoor presentation of living organisms and non-livingmodels displaying varying stages of life cycle of different animals
  • Outdoor demonstrations 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 ecosystems.
  • (B) predict how changes in a food chain affect the ecosystems.
  • (9) organisms and environments. The student know 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 with 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 cycle 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 element: 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 the 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 and eat another animal for food.

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

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.

Modifications During rain and inclement weather:

  • 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 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 on thing special about each.

Contact Us
Quinta Mazatlan

600 Sunset Drive
McAllen, TX 78504

(956) 681-3370

Send us an Email.