A habitat is the home of an animal or a plant. Almost every place on Earth—from the hottest desert to the coldest ice pack—is a habitat for some kinds of animals and plants. Most habitats include a community of animals and plants along with water, oxygen, soil or sand, and rocks.
The two main types of habitats are land habitats and water habitats. Among the many types of land habitats are rainforests, deserts, and mountains. Because of their moist climate, rainforests support more kinds of plant and animal life than any other habitat. In contrast, deserts support only animals and plants that can live without much water. Mountain habitats have thin soil and cold temperatures. Only hardy plants and animals live there. Other types of forests, grasslands, and tundras provide other land habitats.
Water habitats may contain freshwater or salt water. Freshwater habitats include streams, rivers, swamps, marshes, ponds, and lakes. Saltwater habitats include oceans, seas, salt lakes, salt marshes, and saltwater swamps. Some animals and plants, such as fish and seaweed, live entirely in the water. Others, such as otters and river weeds, live partly in and partly out of the water.
Over long periods of time animals adapt to fit their habitat. This means that they develop traits that help them to survive where they live. Animals adapt so that they can stay safe, travel well, and find food in their habitat.
Many animals that live in cold habitats grow thick coats of fur to keep them warm. Their fur may also be white so that their enemies cannot see them when the ground is covered with snow. The hard shell of the desert tortoise keeps in moisture and protects it from enemies. Dolphins have sleek bodies for swimming in the ocean. Giraffes have long necks so that they can nibble tender leaves from the tops of trees.
At this times, you can do this activity as well from your window.
Chose a nearby outdoor space to map; a yard, garden, local park, etc.
Spend time just observing what is there: Are there trees, gardens, structures, water? Are there flowering plants, shrubs, lawn, bird feeders? Can you identify any of those plants?
Now draw and label a map of that space.
Though we think of many feeder birds as seed-eating birds, most of will eat plenty of insects. Insects are especially important for young chicks as they are developing. Many bird species switch their diet over the course of the year.
MAKING A HABITAT MODEL
Scientists often use drawings and models to help make sense of the things they observe and to share information with others. Use materials you find at home, such as plastic bottles, cardboard, old buttons, small metal pieces, natural objects, or blocks and toys to make a 3-D model of the habitat you mapped earlier or another habitat of your choice.
The habitat I/we chose is:_________________________________________________
Some birds that live there are: _____________________________________________
Other animals I observed (insects, spiders, …):________________________________
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