T and I have participated in the bird count for several years now. It’s always a lot of fun! We love seeing the same birds come back year after year. I love our chickadees and T loves that we have three sets of Cardinals. This year we are told to expect some surprise visitors as a result of El Nino.
This year the count starts Feb. 12th and goes through the 15th. If you would like to participate you can register here.
They ask that you count birds for 15 minutes a day or longer. T and I do 15 minutes early in the morning when we tend to see the most visitors. Then we do 15 minutes just before lunch. Record your findings on a checklist which can be printed here. You need a checklist for every day you count.
Once you have completed as many days as you would like to count. You go back online and enter your data. It’s that simple. Last year we were able to print a certificate showing he had participated.
They offer some great tools for when you spot a bird you don’t recognize.
Search for a bird by entering name, description, and keywords, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Use our Bird Guide to identify birds, learn about the life history, listen to the sounds, and watch bird behavior on video–the most comprehensive guide to North American birds
There is also this one for trickier identifications.
We hope the Great Backyard Bird Count whets your appetite for more knowledge about birds. Here are two great online guides that will help, with images, range maps, sounds, and more: All About Birds Online Bird Guide from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Audubon Guide to North American Birds from the National Audubon Society Neotropical Birds Online More help with specific ID challenges: Which Red Finch is It?The identification of these three finches of the Carpodacus genus can be extremely difficult.
Or, there’s an app for that!
Merlin Bird ID Merlin is a free app for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Merlin helps you with bird ID in a whole new way. Simply answer five easy questions about a bird you saw, such as its size, what it was doing, and when you saw it.
Finally, there is a photo contest too! Pictures must be taken during the back yard bird watch. Here are the details!
Photos are evaluated based on both technical skill and artistic ability. Winning photos are those that show the photographer’s skill in composing an image and using a camera. Some of the factors the judges consider when choosing photos include use of light, depth of field, sharpness of focus, color balance, composition, framing, camera angle, originality, choice of subject matter, and the amount of patience (or luck!)
Before you get started, take some time to make your feathered friends some of these beautiful seed decorations to draw them in. We made these just before Christmas and they are super easy and absolutely charming. The birds thought they were delicious!
I love my birds. Watching them at the feeder in the morning tends to put me in high spirits for the whole day. To repay them, I thought I would make them their own edible Christmas tree. This is an easy and fun project you can do with your little people too.
We also have this book for reference.
We strongly encourage you to take the time to participate in this. It’s a great way to get your child outside and help them become more aware of the birds and their environments. It also encourages a quiet and peaceful study time. Keeping records and entering them online make for a simple assignment. We follow up by taking the time to learn more about each species we discover. T looks forward to this and so do I.
What do you think? We welcome your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.