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Activity 2: NYC Wildlife

Activity Description

One of the course objectives is to familiarize the students with some of their local wildlife species.  As there are hundreds of wildlife species in NYC, this is a daunting task.  This lesson gives a short overview of some species and introduces the concept of native and exotic species.  The class then begins making a class field guide, with info sheets for a number of urban species.  This lesson also primes them for the more in-depth and specific “Case Study” lessons that come later in the class.

Estimated Time of Activity: 1.5 hrs

Activity Objectives

Students will be able do the following as a result of the activity:

  • Learn to identify a number of common wildlife species found in NYC
  • Learn what native and exotic species are
  • Begin making a class NYC Wildlife Field Guide

Activity Prerequisites

The previous lesson on habitat and the habitat available in urban areas.  A short discussion on what students thought about their essays from this lesson.  What were their conclusions regarding urban habitat?  Is there a single correct answer to this question?

Activity Instructions

  1. Have students shout out names of wildlife species they know live in NYC.  Put these into groups of “mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.”  You can not label the groups and then ask the students at the end if they can guess how you have grouped them on the board.
  2. Go through the PowerPoint. 
  3. The in-class assignment consists of each student choosing a species to investigate.  They can spend some time choosing a species they like by surfing the internet, even one not yet mentioned in class.  Once they choose, they fill out the Wildlife Species Info worksheet for their species.  This should be done on the computer so they can insert a color picture into the file.  These files should be emailed to the teacher.
  4. It may be a good idea to make sure all of the mesocarnivore species are done first and then students can pick birds or other species.  This will help prepare some of them for the scent station field study.


  • Students should finish their species ID sheet and then do a second one.


Instructor’s Notes

Two sample info sheets are provided as well.  These can be handed out to the students as examples. 

I would also recommend that the students have access to real field guides to see what type of info is included and what type of format is used in published guides.

Hopefully the info sheets from today, combined with the later songbird sheets, can be printed out in color and given to each student to keep at the end of the class. 


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