Wednesday, June 26, 2013

O is for Outdoor Fun is for the Birds

Outdoor Fun is for the Birds

I have noticed several birds that I don’t recognize, birds that I hadn’t seen on our farm in Ohio but  are showing up in Kentucky! Bird watching is a global hobby enjoyed by all ages. A perfect outdoor fun project with learning and science in the mix!
Brainstorming with the kids we came up with some things we need/want for our bird watching adventure:

1. Bird field guide for our area
2. Binoculars
3. Journal for note taking and illustrating birds we find
4. Bird Feeder to draw the birds in
5. Bird seed
6. Camera

1.A trip to the library for us yields a plethora of bird books including a field guide for birds specific to KY! Just remember to return then in 2 weeks (a note to self). 

2. Binoculars are going to be very helpful for us looking out the back door and toward the river at the birds in the trees. I do have a pair of adult binoculars that the older kids can use.

3. Nature notebooks can be as simple as a 3 ring binder with blank paper to get the kids started. A blank hardback journal works nicely too especially for a kid that really enjoys nature and will utilize it for other nature projects. There are even books available for bird walks like the Take A Walk Backyard Bird Walk, by Jane Kirkland. This book is full of information but it also leaves a side margin for you to put your own field notes in. 

4.We are blessed to have a mini forest and trees galore on our property which naturally draws the birds in. At least to the yard, but not quite close enough for photos. If you are in a neighborhood you may want to try to attract them by.. feeding them of course! (Draws me to neighbors homes, it will work for birds as well!)
There are many different kinds of bird feeders and really you can choose a generic one that fits all types of wild birds. This will give you more visitors to fill up your journal with.
We chose a squirrel proof one from Brome Bird Care. We don't have a lot of squirrels, but the same principle applies for keeping the cats out of the feeder as well. 

5. Is all seed created equal? From browsing the bird books, no, they are not. There is a lot of fillers in some of the wild bird feed mixes. One of the best ones to try would be black oiled sunflower seeds. Our theory was to purchase some of the less expensive seed to draw the birds to the feeder and once we know they are flocking to it, we will switch and get a higher quality feed. 

6. Don't forget the camera. It is difficult to take photos of birds far away unless you have a really super camera. This is why we put our feeder on our porch, to aid in capturing the photos of the birds. Taking photos will help the kids see the bird in greater detail to sketch it and look for it in the field guides. Also there are many place on the internet where you can find How to Draw Birds!

 I watch as the kids begin to learn the bird names in our new town, and as the summer progresses and we go out to the park or nature walks, we continue to add to the field journal and knowledge of the birds around. The activity is getting us outside, exercised, and family bonded with  nature. Can't beat that kind of outdoor fun!

Blogging Through the Alphabet

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