Raptor Resource Project: Blackfly Infestation - Animal Behavior and Climate Change

Blackfly Infestation describes the impact that blackflies can have on nestling birds and asks students to evaluate data and think deeply about the local challenges of global climate change.

Students will observe the effect of blackfly infestation on the Decorah and GSB nests and consider why it might become a more frequent problem. This lesson can be put together in a number of ways, depending on how deeply the instructor wants to dive.

View Lesson Plan | Download Lesson Package

Additional Resources

We have two blogs, one video, three charts, and some information about blackfly control. Basic contains information about basic blackfly biology and lifecycle, Blackflies describes the problem at specific nests, the video shows blackflies driving an eaglet from its nest, and the charts provide scientific data about falcon production, waterflow, and blackfly impacts.

Blog: Basic blackfly biology and lifecycle: https://soarraptors.org/2019/06/black-flies-once-again-torment/
Blog: Blackflies at Raptor Resource Project nests: https://www.raptorresource.org/2019/06/24/blackflies/
Video: Eaglet DN9 responding to blackflies https://youtu.be/-F4fnXrOJ5Y

Charts and additional information (these are also included in the lesson package)

Chart 1: Falcon Production
Chart 2: Waterflow and Blackflies
Chart 3: Are High Water Years Becoming More Frequent?
Blackfly Control Questions

You can connect students with local water flow data here: https://maps.waterdata.usgs.gov/mapper/index.html

Teachers are welcome to apply for an educational account to observe incubation, hatching, and eaglets with other classes from around the country. The chat is moderated by Raptor Resource Project volunteers. Link: https://www.raptorresource.org/classroom/. If you don’t have a Raptor Resource Project classroom account, register here: https://www.raptorresource.org/register/. To watch the eagles or other birds without an account, follow this link: https://www.raptorresource.org/birdcams/.

Life Science and Middle School


Climate Change, Conservation & Sustainability, Zoology
Eagles, Parasitic Insects
Middle School, High School, College, Educator

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View Blackfly Infestation – Animal Behavior and Climate Change full lesson plan.