WEBCAST: Bird Extinctions - Time Travel through Lava Tubes

Watch the archive of the webcast featuring ornithologist Dr. Helen James. In this program, Helen explains what prehistoric evidence can tell you about bird extinctions.

Smithsonian Science How: Bird Extinctions - Time Travel Through Lava Tubes

Featuring Ornithologist Helen James

Meet Dr. Helen James, an ornithologist at the National Museum of Natural History. Have you ever considered how a species as abundant as the passenger pigeon  (Ectopistes migratorius) could have gone extinct? Analyze their disappearance and consider what factors make birds vulnerable to extinction. Follow Helen into Hawaiian lava tubes to look for prehistoric evidence of bird life on the islands. See which bird species survived and which did not after humans arrived on the scene. Use modern tools and technologies to interpret bird extinctions.

Watch a recording of the Dec. 11, 2014, webcast using the video player above. The show aligns with national science standards.

How do you participate in the webcast program?

1. WATCH the archive video above

2. Get TEACHING RESOURCES for the webcast

3. Design an ASSESSMENT for your students


The Bird Extinctions - Time Travel through Lava Tubes Webcast package supports students in meeting the following middle school NGSS Performance Expectations by offering a set of resources that integrate science concepts with science practice skills.

MS-LS2 Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics

  • MS-LS2-1 Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem
  • MS-LS2-2 Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems
  • MS-LS2-4 Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations

MS-ESS3 Earth and Human Activity

  • MS-ESS3-4 Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems