Autumn is a wonderful time to observe a variety of mammals and birds as they prepare for winter. With the falling of the leaves and the cooling of the air, different animals begin to exhibit behaviors that allow them to survive the upcoming months. In this article, we will look at 10 types of mammals and 10 types of birds that can be observed during autumn, and provide a free sorting Montessori preschool printable to aid in learning about them.
10 Types of Mammals in Autumn
- Squirrel – In autumn, squirrels become very active as they prepare for the winter season. They hoard and store a lot of food in various hiding spots in order to survive the winter months. Squirrels also become more aggressive and territorial during this time as they compete with other squirrels for resources. They can be seen scurrying around a lot more, gathering nuts, acorns, and seeds, and burying them in the ground. Additionally, some species of squirrels may also change the color of their fur during this time in order to better blend in with their surroundings.
- Deer – In autumn, deer are very active as they prepare for the winter months. They will eat a lot of food to build up their fat reserves, so they can survive the colder weather. Male deer, called bucks, also start to compete for mating rights by displaying their antlers and making loud calls. During this time, you might see deer moving around more during the day, as they try to find the best food sources and mating opportunities. However, they can also be more cautious and skittish, as they are on high alert for predators.
- Raccoon – In autumn, raccoons prepare for winter by eating as much as they can. This helps them build up fat reserves to survive the colder months when food is scarce. They will search for food in the evening and nighttime, often knocking over garbage cans and raiding gardens. Raccoons also start making dens in hollow trees, logs, or burrows to keep warm during the winter. They become less active during the day and sleep for longer periods of time.
- Chipmunk – In autumn, chipmunks are busy collecting food for the winter. They gather nuts, seeds, berries, and fruits, and store them in their burrows. Sometimes, they can be seen stuffing their cheeks full of food and scurrying back to their homes. Chipmunks also spend time digging and preparing their burrows for hibernation during the cold winter months. They may defend their food and territory from other chipmunks and animals. In addition, chipmunks become less active and may sleep longer during the autumn season.
- Fox – In autumn, foxes start preparing for winter by gathering food and making dens. They become more active during the day as they hunt for food to store for the colder months. Foxes may also become more territorial in the fall, marking their territory with scent and vocalizations. As the weather becomes cooler, they may develop thicker fur to keep warm. Sometimes foxes may even change the color of their fur to better blend in with their surroundings.
- Bat – As autumn approaches, bats start to prepare for the cooler weather. They will eat more to build up their fat reserves which will help them to survive hibernation during the winter. Bats will also start to migrate to warmer areas where they can find their favorite food. They might move to different roosting spots as well, such as caves or abandoned buildings. During the day, bats will rest upside-down in groups to conserve energy. At night, they will fly out to hunt insects and other small creatures, using sound to navigate in the dark.
- Hedgehog – In autumn, hedgehogs start to prepare themselves for the winter season. They begin to gather leaves, twigs, and other materials to build cozy nests. They also eat as much as they can to build up their fat reserves, which helps them survive during the cold winter months when food is scarce. Hedgehogs may also become less active during this time as they conserve their energy. If you spot a hedgehog in your garden or neighborhood, it’s best to leave them alone and allow them to continue preparing for winter in peace.
- Moose – In autumn, moose start to grow thick coats for the winter and can often be seen near water sources. Their behavior changes as they start to prepare for the cold winter months. They begin to eat more food to build up their body fat, which helps them stay warm. Moose also become more reclusive and start to migrate towards areas with more cover, such as thick forests or areas with lots of brush. During this time, male moose will also start to compete for female mates by aggressively confronting each other. It’s important to remember that moose are wild animals and should never be approached or disturbed during this period of time.
- Badger – As colder weather approaches, badgers start packing on weight and preparing their burrows for hibernation. They start to become more active as they prepare for winter. They spend more time foraging for food, such as roots, nuts, and insects, to build up their fat reserves. Badgers also start to collect nesting material like leaves and grass to line their dens and keep them warm during colder nights. In autumn, badgers may also become more social, spending more time grooming each other and playing. They may even begin to mate, with baby badgers being born the following spring.
- Bear – During autumn, bears eat as much as they can to put on weight for their hibernation period, which can last for up to six months. In autumn, bears start to prepare for hibernation. They eat a lot of food to build up their fat reserves, which will keep them alive while they sleep through the winter. Bears may spend up to 20 hours a day eating during this time! They also collect materials to build a cozy den to hibernate in. Bears can become more aggressive during the fall as they try to protect their food and territory. It’s important to remember to keep your distance and never approach a wild bear.
10 Types of Birds in Autumn
- Geese – These birds are known for their migratory behavior in autumn, flying long distances to warmer climates. During autumn, geese start to prepare for their long migration ahead. They can be seen in flocks, honking loudly, and flying in a “V” formation. This formation helps them conserve energy and enables them to travel long distances. Geese also eat a lot during this season to build up their fat reserves for the journey. They may also be seen resting in fields, ponds, and lakes before continuing their journey. Geese are fascinating creatures that work hard to survive and thrive in nature.
- Owl – During autumn, owls begin to mate and prepare for the winter by building nests for their young. As the days get shorter, they become more active at night and spend more time hunting for food. They may also start to migrate to warmer areas in search of prey. During the day, owls may roost in trees or hollows, trying to stay warm as the temperatures drop. They may also start to hoot more frequently as they establish their territories. If you’re lucky, you may even spot an owl in flight or hear their haunting calls echoing through the autumn night.
- Woodpecker – In preparation for winter, woodpeckers search for food and start to build their dens in hollow trees. In autumn, Woodpeckers tend to be very active. They spend a lot of time drumming and tapping their beaks on trees. This is because they are trying to find insects to eat. During this time, they also begin to work on their winter homes. They make their homes in trees and use their beaks to make holes that they can use for shelter. Woodpeckers are very important to the ecosystem because they help to control insect populations and they provide homes for other animals. So, next time you see a Woodpecker tapping away in the woods, you can appreciate the important role they play in nature!
- Jay – The jay is known for gathering and storing acorns for the winter, preparing several different caches to keep their food supply safe. In autumn, jays can be seen searching for food. They are incredibly active and curious creatures. You may see them hopping around in trees looking for acorns, seeds, and insects. Jays are also known for gathering food for the winter months by hiding it in secret places. This is called caching. In addition to collecting food, jays can be very vocal during autumn. They often make loud calls and screeches to communicate with their mates and warn other birds of danger. j
- Pheasant – During the fall, pheasants begin to store food and stay in small groups to protect themselves from predators. They love to eat insects, seeds, and berries. During this time, male Pheasants become more aggressive and territorial as they start to court females for mating. They can be seen strutting around with their colorful feathers on full display. Pheasants also start to move to new habitats as the weather changes and prey becomes scarce. This makes them more vulnerable to predators, so they have to be on high alert to protect themselves.
- Duck – In autumn, ducks show different behavior than other seasons. Many species of ducks migrate to warmer regions for the winter. But those who stay in the same area show different behavior, such as eating more to store fat for the winter, and searching for new sources of food. Ducks also tend to gather in larger flocks to protect themselves from predators. They make a lot of noise when communicating with other ducks in the flock. Their behavior changes as they get ready for the cold winter months.
- Turkey – They start to gather in flocks, typically made up of several hens and a dominant male, known as a tom. The tom will often strut and display his feathers to attract females, while the hens will begin to dig for food in preparation for colder weather. As temperatures drop, turkeys may also migrate to warmer areas to find food and shelter.
- Warbler – During autumn, warblers migrate from the northern regions to the warmer south. They move in flocks, often with other bird species that travel together for protection from predators and easier navigation. These birds use the stars, sun, and magnetic fields to navigate their way, covering thousands of miles. Warblers can be seen flitting through forests and parks in search of insects to feed on. They can also be seen darting through the air, catching bugs on the wing. Warblers are known for their vibrant plumage, making them a favorite among bird enthusiasts.
- Bald Eagle – In autumn, many bald eagles begin to migrate south to avoid the freezing temperatures and search for food sources. They start to gather in groups near water bodies where there is an abundance of prey like fish and waterfowl. These groups are sometimes called “congregations.” Bald Eagles also become more territorial during this time, defending their hunting areas from other eagles. They may even engage in aerial displays, called “cartwheeling,” to establish dominance. This season also marks the beginning of courtship and mating for Bald Eagles, as they begin to build nests and pair up for the breeding season.
- Hummingbird – Hummingbirds are interesting birds that can be seen in autumn. During this season, hummingbirds are preparing for their long migration south to warmer climates. They will begin to eat more to build up their energy stores for the journey. Male hummingbirds are also known to perform courtship displays to attract a mate before they leave for their migration. Hummingbirds may also begin to visit more feeders as natural nectar sources become scarce. With their vibrant colors and quick movements, spotting a hummingbird in autumn can be a special treat for kids.
Free Sorting Montessori Preschool Printable
To help children learn about the different types of mammals and birds in autumn, we have created a free sorting Montessori preschool printable. This printable provides images of different animals, which can be cut out and sorted into two categories: mammals and birds. This activity can be done independently or with adult supervision and can help children learn about categorizing and sorting.
Print on card stock and laminate for longer use. After cutting cards, draw with a marker or stick dot stickers to the back of each set – one color for each set. Place the label cards in a row. Explain the difference between the two types of vertebrates. Invite the child to sort cards into two categories.
After the child completed the task, invite him or her to flip the cards and self-check. Each card has to be under the correct category based on the dot color.
Young children can be encouraged to match the animal cards when printed twice and draw the animals they like the most using their choice of art medium.
Older children might be inspired to research and create their own books about mammals and birds that they commonly encounter during the fall season.
When exploring vertebrates with your children you might like to give some of these hands-on activities a go:
- Make bird and mammal skeletons using playdough to point out the difference between the two types of animal groups.
- Playdough (brown for mammal and white for bird)
- Images or diagrams of mammal and bird skeletons (optional)
- Start by dividing the playdough into two batches, one for the mammal and one for the bird. The mammal dough should be brown and the bird dough should be white.
- Using the images or diagrams as reference, make the basic skeleton shape of a mammal using the brown playdough. Include a skull with a long spine, four legs, and a tail.
- For the bird, make a simple skeleton shape with a straight spine, wings, and two legs. The skull should be pointed and have a beak.
- Use toothpicks to add more details to the skeleton. For the mammal, add toothpicks as ribs and as joints in the legs and tail. For the bird, add toothpicks to represent the wings and tail feathers.
- Refer back to the diagrams and cut out small pieces of playdough to add details such as the claws on the feet and fingers on the wings.
- Have the kids compare the two skeletons and point out the differences – the mammal has a long spine with ribs and has four legs while the bird has a straight spine with wings and two legs.
- Use the playdough skeletons as a visual aid for teaching kids about the two different animal groups – mammals and birds.
Note: You can also use different colors of playdough to represent other animal groups like reptiles, amphibians, or fish.
- Gather binoculars next time you go outdoors and invite the children to observe different types of birds in their natural habitat.
- Gather Safari TOOB figurines and invite the children to sort animals into two groups – mammals and birds.
- Explore the most commonly found mammals and birds found in your area – make a poster with your students.
Choose a variety of mammals and birds commonly found in your area.
Have students research the animals, looking for characteristics, behaviors, and habitats.
Create a chart for each animal, including a picture, name, habitat, diet, and other interesting facts.
Use this information to create a large poster, organizing the animals by type (mammal or bird) or by habitat.
Encourage students to decorate the poster with drawings or other embellishments.
Hang the poster in a visible area for all to enjoy and learn from!
- Discuss in a small group all the different ways children can protect animals in their natural habitat.
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