Night Owl, Morning Magpie: YEAR 2 - Science - Engage

One night, Little J hears the nocturnal Barking Owl and becomes fascinated by how the owl stays awake at night. In the morning, he is woken by the carolling of magpies and on the way to school, he is swooped by Maggie, the magpie. Miss Chen teaches the class about nocturnal animals.

Engage - Pose and respond to questions, and make predictions about familiar objects and events


After viewing Little J & Big Cuz, Episode 13 ‘Night Owl and Morning Maggie’, revisit the information Nanna tells Little J about why the father Magpie swoops. Have students recall information about the time of year, the reasons for the swooping, and when the swooping will stop.

View clip/s on a magpie attack, and discuss why and when the magpie defends its territory.

Suggested resources:

Ask students to recall if they know of other birds that react like this, e.g. ducks, swans, pelicans, plovers etc. Have students share their stories about birds they have experienced, either in the wild, at home, or in a zoo.

Invite students to nominate their favourite Australian bird. Have students in small groups, sort the native birds of Australia from the introduced/non-native species.

To check which birds are a native species, access the website or apps:

Make a list of commonly known Australian birds, e.g. emu, galah, kookaburra, lorikeet, budgerigar, scrub turkey, lyre bird, etc. Explain the difference between native bird species and introduced or non-native bird species. Have students access a map of Australia that displays where the birds the students nominate are prevalent. Ask students to list which birds they would be able to find in their local area. Have students predict the term associated with scientists who study birds.

Introduce students to the term Ornithologist, a zoologist who focuses on birds. Have students pose and respond to questions about:

  • the work of an Ornithologist
  • the equipment an ornithologist would use: binoculars, hiking equipment, camera & telephoto lenses, video camera, sound recorder, sketching materials, etc.
  • where an ornithologist would work
  • which work places would employ an ornithologist

Access a set or sets of binoculars and take students on a walk around the school to spot birds in the school grounds. Have students record/photograph where they see the birds and what the birds look like. See if they can spot birds’ nests in the trees, and/or the source of food for the birds. Back in the classroom, have students find out which birds they spotted. Have students draw the bird/s they saw and label the pictures with the colourings of the bird.

If the birds they find are crows and/or magpies, read the Aboriginal Dreaming story, The Magpie and the Crow - Fire & Rescue NSW (pdf) and The Currawongs and the Magpies - D'harawal dreaming stories (pdf) and have students decide if either of the two birds are present in the school yard.

Have students enter their bird drawing/s, observation/s and research into an their Science Journal.

“A science journal is a record of a students’ observations, experiences and reflections. Each entry is dated and annotated by the student. Annotations may include written labels, drawings, diagrams, charts, small specimens, photographs, and graphs. Student engagement and learning is evident in the science journal.”

Sourced from: Primary Connections, Linking science with literacy