How Birds (and Other Animals) Migrate Successfully

Contributor: Victoria Surface. Lesson ID: 10746

Have you ever seen a bird carry a compass? Do fish carry a waterproof GPS? How do they know where to go? They have a compass in their eyes! Watch a video and make a compass to learn how they migrate!


Life Science

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5), Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Can birds see things that humans can't?

The migratory pattern of birds (and other animals) is fascinating!

How do they know where to migrate? How do they find their way?

In this lesson, you will explore how birds and some other animals have a magnetic sense. Through an interesting video, online resources, fun magnet and compass activities, and animal research, you will learn how animals migrate successfully!

Get started by completing the following activities:

  1. Watch How Do Birds Know Where to Go When They Migrate? from BrainStuff - HowStuffWorks to learn how birds use magnetic fields to find their way:


  1. Read more about the magnetic sense of birds and other animals at Animal Magnetic Sense Explained by Tiny Protein 'Compasses' from Science Altert and Animal Magnetism: How the magnetic field influences animal navigation, by Tricia Edgar at Decoded Science, from Signs of the Times.
  2. Discuss the following questions with your parent or teacher:
    • What is magnetoreception?
    • How are birds able to see magnetic fields?
    • What tiny particles are located in birds and other animals that help with their sense of direction?
    • How is the Earth like a magnet?

If you think you've got it, then move on to the Got It? section to experiment with magnetism.

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