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Do you wonder how to do nature study during the winter? How about putting out a bird feeder, and watching for wild birds from the coziness of your warm living room?
Today I'd like to share how we did birdwatching in our homeschool, starting with having fun birdwatching:
- In the preschool years
- During elementary
- Doing "Move the Bird Feeder Experiment"
- Doing the Holiday Bird Count
We started birdwatching very early on in our homeschool. When my daughter was a toddler, she noticed the birds from her bedroom window... local birds that would fly by, or land on a tree, or sometimes on our deck.....
|Northern Flicker - A type of Woodpecker|
1. In Preschool
We made a peanut butter feeder, just from a large pinecone and peanut butter, and a strong to hang it with. You could use a toilet paper roll, too.
Then, we put up a feeding station, one for the suet, which the wild birds especially liked, and one for the bird seeds....
|Pileated Woodpecker (left) and Downey Woodpecker|
We found suet at a frugal price at Lowes. Then we added something for the hummingbirds.....
One day we were blessed to see a hummingbird on one of our bushes....
In the winter we saw robins....
|Chickadee (left) and Junco|
2. In Elementary
We were always on the hunt for birds. We watched for them, looked them up together, and discussed what they liked to eat. At the library, we found books on bird nests and baby birds.
In first grade, or so, I began to teach my daughter how to identify the birds herself. Our favorite resource for that was......the Peterson Field Guide for Young Naturalists...
Photo Credit - Peterson Field Guide for Backyard Birds
|Red Breasted Sapsucker|
The next year, we started using Golden's Guide to Field Identification - Birds of North America
One day, at the park, we found a heron....
|Great Blue Heron|
.....hoping to see salmon spawning....
3. Moving the Bird Feeder Experiment
One year, we decided to move our bird feeding station from the side yard to the back, where we could see the birds better. This led to a great math and science activity, involving three steps:
Three Steps to Experimenting:
1. Make a hypothesis - First we estimated how long the birds would take to find the new feeder location
2. Collect your data - Then we tabulating how many came to the new feeder each day
3. Do your analysis - Then we analysed our data, to determine if our hypothesis was correct.
It took over a month for all the birds to find the new location! Our hypothesis was wrong! But my daughter was learning and using the scientific process, while developing a love for nature.
And lastly, one of our very favorite bird watching activities was the Holiday Bird Count.
4. Holiday Bird Count
|Photo Credit - Holiday Bird Count|
In December, each year, we joined the Holiday Bird Count. This is an organized count of the number of birds found in your backyard, or your designated area. It is sponsored by the Audubon Society, and provides vital information to help protect birdlife habitat.
We watched from our feeder and from our neighborhood, keeping stats on what we saw. As my daughter grew older, she became to scribe, and would submit our data herself. Pretty soon it was her data. If you are interested, they also have a Backyard Bird Count, which goes on periodically throughout the year, too.
In fact, soon they will be hosting the Great Backyard Bird Count, this week! Come join the fun....
This became a tradition in our home, each year. We saw, identified and counted hundreds of birds, and the heron joined in the fun...and one year...
...we spotted this precious eagle.
Birdwatching provided so many learning opportunities, and built a love of nature in my daughter, that has continued through the years.
What are you favorite things to do for nature study? Please share in the comments.
Thanks for stopping by BJ's Homeschool,
Betsy is mom to her now college senior, whom she homeschooled from preK through high school. She blogs at BJ's Homeschool, about the early years, high school & college and wrote - Homeschooling High School with College in Mind. She offers free homeschool help through messages at BJ's Consulting.