Before reading the story ask your students:
- Does a parent have to travel a long way to get to work? Or does he or she work at home? Some parents travel far distances to get to work. Some parents work at home.
Some animals stay in the same habitats all year, and other animals travel long distances to find food and space to reproduce. Can you think of some examples of animals that move from place to place to do their "jobs"? Some birds, butterflies, fish, and caribou migrate, or move during the seasons. This is a story about a shorebird who has a winter home and a summer home.
- Read the story to your students or have them read it in reading groups.
- After reading the story ask and discuss with your students the following questions, or divide the class into groups for discussion. The questions are divided by chapter.
Maya on Mexican Shores
What kind of bird is Maya?
A Western Sandpiper, a type of shorebird
What is Maya nervous about?
Maya is nervous about migrating from Mexico to Alaska.
Why do you think Maya and other shorebirds make such long trips each year?
Shorebirds move during the year to take advantage of the abundant food and daylight of the arctic in the summer and leave to avoid cold, harsh winters. They enjoy warm, mild winters in Mexico.
Scientists are still figuring out how shorebirds find their way during migration. How do you think that shorebirds find their way to their destination?
Shorebirds may navigate by the stars, the sun, the coast, and buildings. They use their senses, instinct, and landmarks to guide them.
Maya Gets Ready
How do you get ready for a trip?
Students may prepare for a trip by packing a bag of clothing and gathering snacks or games.
What is Maya getting ready for? How is she preparing?
Maya is getting ready to migrate, or move, from Mexico to Alaska for the summer. She is doubling her body weight by eating lots of litter critters, like clams, in the mud in Mexico.
Think of two examples where you move from place to place based on time or season.
Students may live in other cities or states in the summer, go to camps every summer, or visit relatives during the holidays.
Maya's Unique Design
How do Maya's long legs, beak, and oil gland help her live in wetlands?
Maya long legs allow her to wade in the water while she feeds. She sticks her bill into the mud to pick out the tiny animals. Her long, pointed wings help her fly fast and far.
Shorebirds' Special Gifts
Why would a shorebird pretend to have a broken wing to protect its nest?
Predators that are interested in eating the eggs may follow the parent instead.
The Fear of a Falcon
Maya and other shorebirds have to watch out for predators. What other predators can you think of besides the falcon in the story?
Shorebird predators include eagles, hawks, gulls, and foxes.
How do Maya and other Western Sandpipers hide and protect themselves from predators?
Their feathers change with the seasons so that they blend in with the mud in Mexico or the tundra in Alaska. When they fly with other shorebirds in groups, the movement scares predators away.