Homeschoolers – Welcome Birds into Your Backyard!
This is just one of the interesting/informative articles in Homeschool.com’s virtual magazine
Includes #97 of Homeschool.com’s Great Summer Resource: 101 Things To Do This Summer list – Build bird feeders and baths.
Summer can be an exciting time to see a large variety of birds and it’s a great opportunity to familiarize yourself with the birds that call your area home.
As homeschoolers, birds offer an easy opportunity to delve into Nature Study as they are easily accessible for observation. And it brings a great deal of satisfaction and confidence when your child is able to point out a bird based on its appearance or call. They become like well-known friends as their names are called out and their voices are recognized.
As we started making a focused effort to identify the birds around us, we found that we had taken these interesting creatures for granted. We had grown so used to hearing them that they faded into the background a bit. But we were pleasantly surprised to learn that the cheery song we began hearing each morning was a Robin’s morning song. And a chirpy little song that I had long associated with a memory from my childhood of my grandmother calling it a “tweety-bird” was actually a Black-Capped Chickadee. Observing birds really opens up your eyes and makes you more conscious to the beauty and intrigue that we so easily pass by every day.
Bringing the Birds to You
While it’s normally very easy to find birds to observe, you might want to encourage birds to come to a certain area so it’s easier to see them or to draw in additional species of birds.
A simple way to do this is to set up a feeding station or a water bath. It’s important that you place your feeder or bath somewhere that you can see easily but that is close to some trees or bushes so that the birds feel safe and are able to flit back and forth from tree to feeder.
All birds need plenty of fresh, clean water and many enjoying bathing in it as well. Bird baths are available at Garden Centers and many other stores. You can also look at thrift shops or yard sales. And they can easily be made using a large shallow basin with sloping sides. You can find these at thrift shops and garage sales as well. You don’t want the water to be more than two inches deep and the sides must slope. Another very simple and inexpensive way to make one is to buy a large terra cotta saucer and place it on a wide tree stump.
The Birds and Blooms website has great ideas for making affordable bird feeders. A couple of our favorites from their site are the feeders that use an old tomato cage to make a frame to hold a feeding tray and those that use an embroidery hoop and window screen mesh to make a feeder.
You can also plant sunflowers as a fun bird-feeder project. These impressive flowers are fun to grow and provide food and a feeder all-in-one later in the Summer/Fall.
You may want to keep a Bird-Sighting Journal. Even a simple notebook with names and dates can be fun to refer to in the future. Or you can buy a sketch book to draw in and make notes of your sightings. We even keep a Pinterest page called Birds We Have Seen. It makes it easy to quickly scan through the images to find a certain bird we want to find out more about or confirm if that is the bird we heard or saw.
We like to keep a bird identification handbook close to our main window so we can easily look up the birds we see. In addition we use websites like allaboutbirds.org to identify birds. It’s been helpful to us to determine what they are based on their calls which are available on the website. Finally, a pair of binoculars are also really nice to have close at hand. Again, for those who are budget conscious, handbooks and binoculars can often be found at yard sales and thrift shops if you keep an eye out for them.
So whether you go out and buy the supplies you need or use some crafting skills, adding bird-watching to your list of summer activities can be fun and rewarding!
Here are a few more links for ideas —