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Last Updated: Jan 8th, 2011 - 16:45:13 

Science  


The Owls of Harry Potter
By Sarah Lane
Aug 23, 2006, 14:35 PST



Ecology and Harry Potter

Grade Level:
5-12

Subject: Science, Ecology

Keywords: Ecology, owls, raptors, subspecies, Barn owl, California Spotted owl, Eagle owl, Great-Horned owl, Long-Eared owl, Short-Eared owl, Snowy owl, Spotted owl, predatory, habitats, characteristics, nocturnal, food chain, extinction, birds, owls, ecosystems, endangered species, mail carriers, protection, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Author: Sarah Lane

Affiliation: ClassBrain, Inc.

Date: 18 December 2002

Duration: 2-4 class periods


Background:

A raptor is a bird of prey known for its predatory habits of feeding on other animals. Owls fall into this group of birds and they have a variety of unique characteristics that enable them to be magnificent hunters. Sensory abilities such as binocular vision, keen hearing, large grasping feet with razor sharp talons, and large hooked bills that can tear prey, are just a few examples. Owls capture between 7 and 12 mice per day and 350 per month so they play a critical role in ecology.

The use of owls as mail carriers in the Harry Potter movies has sparked interest in these undervalued animals. There are almost 150 species of owls in the world with 18 of those breeding in North America. The Migratory Bird Management Program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is involved in several activities to ensure that owl populations remain healthy. Challenges include the monitoring and management of a species once on the road to extinction, helping in recovery efforts, and the prevention of further declining populations. Although owls are a highly visible species in the media, parks, zoos, and in the wild, it is crucial for us to realize the important role they play in our ecosystems and the threats they face due to their position at the top of their food chain.



Objectives

Project One:
Divide the class into four groups representing the four houses at Hogwarts. This could be done by drawing the name of the house out of a hat. Once the class has separated into either Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Slytherin, or Hufflepuff, have each team construct a book which will represent their house. Have each group design a cover for their book. Teams should work together on each of the following activities to fill the book, which will be a reflection of their house and will be graded upon completion.

Activities to Include in the Book:

The following four activities will make up the content for the books representing each house. Grading should be based on how each individual student meets the deadline for each activity, cooperation among the group members, good behavior, and the overall completion of the book.

Activity 1

Choose an Owl from the Harry Potter movie that you would like to be your mail owl. There are eight different kinds including the Snowy Owl, Great-Horned Owl, Long-Eared Owl, Short-Eared Owl, Spotted Owl, Barn Owl, California Spotted Owl, and the Eagle Owl. Once you have chosen your favorite owl, print out the worksheet for your particular owl from the list below. Color it or use materials like leaves, grass, or tree bark to decorate the picture. Get as creative as you want! Have each student place their completed worksheet in their house book.

Activity 2
Now that you have decided what your favorite owl is and have completed your picture, read the article on your specific owl from the list below to learn more about its characteristics and life. Write a short story about something interesting that happened to your owl or an adventure it went on. Make sure to include things like what it eats, or how it defends itself, or where it lives. Also include why this particular owl is your favorite. Place the finished story in your house book.

Activity 3
Use the Additional Learning Links for Harry Potter Owls below to write a short essay. What is the importance of ecology and the role that owls play at the top of the food chain? What would happen if owls were to become extinct? Why is it important for us to protect them? If you had the power, what would you do to make sure that these birds did not become extinct? Place the finished essay in your book.

Activity 4
You already have your own mail owl, but what kind of letters are you going to receive and from who? Imagine that someone very special has sent you an important letter. They are asking you to forget about Hogwarts and mail owls and to come back home. Write a letter back to the person explaining your decision and the reasons why you would, or would not leave. Make it at least a page long. Place the letter inside your house book. Your house book is now complete and ready to be graded.


Project Two:
Aside from Ecology, the Harry Potter movies are intriguing as they are set in various places in different countries. Use the map of England and Scotland below to identify the various filming locations of the movies. Use the link list of Harry Potter Filming Locations below to help you plot your map as well as the Harry Potter Site List for more information. Draw the exact locations, names of the towns, and one landmark specific to each location on your map.



Worksheets

Owl Coloring Worksheets





Resources

The Owl Series


The Snowy Owl

The Great Horned Owl

The Long Eared Owl

The Eagle Owl

The Spotted Owl

California’s Spotted Owl

The Barn Owl

The Short Eared Owl



Additional Learning Links for Harry Potter Owls

Harry Potter Filming Locations

Harry Potter Site List




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