Okay, so this isn’t only about counting blue birds. It’s about counting all birds.
It’s the Great Backyard Bird Count, y’all!!
The Littles and I participate in this awesome study every year. It’s a perfect way to kick off the year’s nature study program, and even now that they’re middle schoolers, we still do nature study. Nature study is a great introduction to biology, geology, meteorology, astronomy, etymology… you get it. But the main reason we do nature study is so the littles get a good grasp on ecology and the importance of leaving the smallest carbon footprint they can.
Counting the birds that come to our feeders for the weekend helps us remember the importance of allowing our flying friends the room to have their lives. We live surrounded by forest, so we can look out the window and see nests in the trees, and a myriad number of birds flitting about every day. We keep our feeders filled all winter so the winter birds don’t have to search too hard for food, and we keep them filled in summer just to have the chance to watch them. I have a true fascination for bird feeders. I can’t walk past them in any store without stopping to dream about which one I’ll buy next. When we first moved to the farm, I spent hours watching out the big back windows for any kind of bird I could see. It was so bad that my beautiful husband bought me a pair of binoculars so I could see them better. He’s amazing like that.
- Great Backyard Bird Count
- February 12-15 2016
If you go to the website, you’ll find a downloadable pdf with instructions on how to take part and a downloadable poster announcing the count. I realize that as homeschoolers we might not feel the need to print out a poster, but it always gets my Littles in the spirit of things to see it hanging on the classroom wall for the weekend. There’s also a data form for you to fill out in order to enter your findings, and a bird list and guide to recognizing birds. As the teacher, all you have to do is print stuff out and you’re ready to go.
We have several bird books on hand, but our favorite is the Birds of Indiana Field Guide by Stan Tekiela. The birds are separated by color and the pages are color-coded, so it’s easy and quick to find the bird you’re looking for. The photos in it are clear and gorgeous, and it’s full of information about each bird, including migration patterns, diet, and nesting habits. And, awesomely, if you go to Tekiela’s Amazon page, you can find a similar field guide for your state! Yeah yeah.
The cool thing about this bird count is that you can count birds anywhere: your backyard, the park, on your way to the grocery store. This free count is connected to the Cornell Lab bird count I posted about a couple weeks ago and co-hosted by the National Audubon Society. They recommend you spend at least 15 minutes on just one of the days of the Count, watching birds and counting the types you see and how many of each. Then you simply create an online account at the webite and enter your data. The account is free, and you can use the supplied data form to keep track.
If you want to do a further bird study with your littles, here’s a free download for researching just about anything and everything to do with birds.
If you don’t have a bird feeder at home, making one is easy. A Pine Cone Feeder is as easy as smearing peanut butter over a pine cone, pouring seed onto a piece of wax paper, then rolling the peanut butter-covered pine cone in the seed. Tie string or ribbon around the top of the cone, and hang it from the nearest tree.
An Orange Cup Feeder is simple, too. You just halve an orange, scoop out the fruit and drop it into a bowl. Then mix the fruit with about 1/2 cup of peanut butter and a cup of birdseed. Spoon the mixture back into the halved peel, poke a kabob stick near the top of either side of the orange (gives the birds a perch), tie a string to either end of the stick, and boom. Bird feeder. If oranges every last long enough in our house to start to turn, they automatically become feeders.
Join the Great Backyard Bird Count. Hopefully your littles will have as much fun as these amazing, wonderful goofballs.