Do you have a bird feeder in your yard? Birdwatching is a great activity for family members of all ages. Not only is it fun and educational, this popular hobby fosters a love of the great outdoors and instills an appreciation for wildlife. Make birdwatching a family event at your house and keep a wild bird journal to record all the different types of birds that visit your backyard feeder.
Why keep a bird journal, you ask? A journal is a great way to learn more about the species in your local area. Using a bird journal encourages detailed observation. As you start to keep a record of the birds that visit your bird feeder, you will start to notice subtle differences amongst local bird species and appreciate their unique personalities. Make this a project that all members of your family can participate in.
Buy a birdwatching journal or make your own - any type of notebook will do. Creating your own journal is easy. Lines or no lines? It doesn't matter, but notebooks without lined pages can offer greater flexibility and opportunities for creativity if you want to draw or glue nature memorabilia. Any size journal will do, but a larger journal (8.5" x 11") will be easier for small children to write or draw in. The book can be either hard or soft cover, but make sure that it is of reasonable quality that will hold up to being carried around. Once you have your birdwatching journal, use it often. Keep it near the window with a view of the bird feeder and take it with you on nature walks, to the park, and throughout your neighborhood.
Here are some great ideas for information to include in your journal: start each entry with the date and the time of day. Identify the bird species - include both the common and official scientific name. Write details about the bird's appearance, including any outstanding markings or noteworthy features such as the bird's gender. Be sure to include the location of the sighting. Describe the habitat - list surrounding plants and water sources, if any.
How many birds are there? Is the bird alone or traveling in a flock? Are they the same species or part of a mixed flock? Take notes on these details as well as the birds' activities. Record their actions while alone and compare it to how they react to other birds at the feeder. Over time, you may start to see patterns in their behavior. It is also a great idea to include weather conditions in your wild bird journal. Describe any precipitation or weather-related activity and record the temperature. These factors can impact the level of bird activity at your feeder. Include sketches of birds and other interesting things you see. Add feathers and even leaves to your journal.
You will be amazed at all the different types of birds that will visit your backyard. To encourage a variety of birds, install several different feeders and fill each with a variety of bird seed. You can find birdwatching supplies at your local Southern States. Don't be surprised if you discover as many as fifteen or more different species visiting your backyard bird sanctuary!