Bird Architects: Nests with a Twist

article by Mina , photo by Alamy

Learning Intention:


I am learning to draw on structures I have experienced through reading texts so that I can consider key points to include in specific texts.


Success Criteria:


  • I can identify key information included in an article.
  • I can create fictitious information in response to key questions.
  • I can include the responses to key questions in a fictitious entry for an article.


Essential knowledge:


Discuss the purpose of articles, ensuring students note that they are similar to information reports in that their purpose is to inform readers about a particular topic.


Oral language and communication:


Inform students that they will be analysing the information included in articles to best inform readers about a topic. Display the following opening paragraph from another article also featured in this issue of Countdown, Captain Ahab’s Weird Wide World: Little Miss Mascot.

On 15 November 1920, Nancy Bentley was playing in bushland in Port Arthur, Tasmania, when she fell and got bitten by a snake. The nearest medical treatment was many kilometres away, so instead of going overland her father rowed her out to the HMAS Sydney—an Australian naval ship that was anchored nearby.

Display the following questions and discuss the responses:

  • Who is the article about? (Nancy Bentley)
  • What is the main event the article describes? (Nancy Bentley was bitten by a snake and the nearest medical treatment was many kilometres away so her father rowed her to HMAS Sydney)
  • Where did it happen? (In bushland in Port Arthur, Tasmania)
  • When did the event take place? (15 November 1920)
  • Why did it occur? (Because she was playing in bushland, and she got bitten by a snake, so she needed medical attention)

Inform students that articles will usually try to provide the answers to these key five questions.


Understanding text:


Read Bird Architects: Nests with a Twist or listen to the audio version if you have a digital subscription. Reread the section under the subheading Sew, sew, sew your nest. Discuss responses to the same questions as earlier, namely:

  • Who? (The tailorbird)
  • What? (The tailorbird is unique in its nest crafting technique as it sews its nest, collecting strong leaves before puncturing holes in them and then carefully threading plant fibres through the holes)
  • Where? (Across Asia, from India to Vietnam and as far south as Indonesia)
  • When? (Response not provided in the text)
  • Why? (Response can be inferred, make nests that are suitable for its eggs)

Place students with a partner and instruct them to reread the remainder of the article, locating answers to the questions who, what, where, when and why, for each of the sections. Use the students’ observations to discuss what makes each of the birds’ nests unique, ensuring students note the following:

  • Hummingbirds and kinglets collect spiderwebs which they use to hold their nests together
  • The Maleo bird of Sulawesi, Indonesia builds its nests underground
  • Swiftlets make their nests using salvia and their nests are used to make ‘birds nest soup’, which is considered a delicacy in countries like China, Vietnam and Malaysia
  • The pink flamingo makes its nest in the mud


Creating text:


Inform students that they will be composing their own fictitious entry about a type of bird nest to include in the article. Gradually release responsibility by composing an example collaboratively first.

Discuss unusual places for birds to build nests, and tell students these can be as wacky as they wish, for example:

  • Under houses
  • Out on the ocean
  • High up in the tallest trees
  • Under the sand at a beach
  • Amongst the best books in a library
  • On top of the scariest ride at a fair ground
  • On a waterslide


Select one example and discuss responses to the questions, who, what, where, when and why. For example:

  • Who: A sliding slidey bird
  • What: Builds its nest in a floaty ring, made of leaves stuck together with saliva and inflated, so they can float down a waterslide
  • Where: Waterslides across Australia
  • When: Just before spring
  • Why: To prevent predators from catching their chicks


Inform students that they will use this information to compose a brief entry to include with the article about the chosen fictitious bird.

Instruct students to work with the same partner as previously to complete the following:

  • Identify a fictitious location for a bird’s nest
  • Jot down responses to the questions, who, what, where, when and why about your fictitious nest
  • Compose a brief entry to include with the article


Assessment for/as learning:


Match pairs together and instruct them to use the Thinking hats strategy, using a different coloured pencil to make notes on each of the five criteria below:

  • They have included information about who the bird is
  • They have included information about what the bird does
  • They have included information about where the bird builds their nest
  • They have included information about when the bird builds their nest
  • They have included information about why the bird builds their nest in the unique place


A Close reading lesson of this text can be downloaded here: Bird Architects: A Nest with a Twist.