What's Going On?

Barnacle dive

Activity overview

15 mins
Ages 7 – 9

Science topics:

Animals, including humans

Spark a conversation with this video showing a barnacle gosling taking a death-defying jump! This activity is great for describing observations and applying ideas in unfamiliar contexts.

Run the activity

1. You’re going to watch a short video. The aim isn't to find right answers, it's to explore ideas and find out what they know.

  • Do they know what might happen based on the image?

2. After you've watched the video, lead a discussion with your class:

  • Why are the birds nesting on top of cliffs?
  • What is it about their bodies allows them to survive the fall?
  • Can the class think of any other birds or animals that eat plants?
  • Can they think of any other birds or animals that spend summer and winter in different places?

3. Ask the class to describe what they saw using only one word.

Background science

This video shows a perilous journey for a barnacle gosling and may startle some pupils, but they can be reassured at the start that this baby goose will be ok. 

The young barnacle goose makes its first jump from its nest at the top of a 120-metre cliff to the beach below. The clifftop is a safe place to nest out of the reach of predators, such as Arctic foxes, but also out of easy reach of food. Hungry baby barnacles must forgo the safety of the cliff top to join their parents for dinner on the beach below. The diet of these birds consists mainly of grass, roots or moss but they do eat insects and shellfish when plants are hard to come by in the deep winter. 

They’re migratory birds, which means they make seasonal journeys to find the best habitats for feeding, nesting and raising their young. In this case, the geese spend the summer in the Arctic then travel to the warmer climates of the UK (mainly Scotland).

Take it further

Find out more about brilliant birds with this fun Zoom In Zoom Out or think about what might happen if humans ate insects with this What If question. Look out for birds in your area with these great RSPB resources.

Image credit: Incredible Arctic via Shutterstock;
Video credit: Life Story/BBC All Rights Reserved;