“We are meant to be naturalists, each one in his own degree, and is inexcusable to live in a world so full of marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things,” Charlotte Mason
For 120 years, the National Audubon Society has called on backyard volunteers to embark on a winter bird census.
Called the Christmas Bird Count, conservationist Frank Chapman began the bird count tradition as a way to promote conservation of the birds rather than hunting on Christmas Day in 1900. Since that time, a count in some form has taken place.
Now, Christmas Bird Counts take place between December 14 and January 5 and are led by local compilers. Beginning bird watchers are welcome to join!
In order to participate, find the “compiler” closest to you by visiting the map at Audubon.org. There are specific rules that govern this count, so you’ll want to connect with your local compiler to schedule a bird watching date.
(Want a beautiful picture book read aloud to go along with this activity? Check out “The Boy Who Drew Birds: The Story of James Audubon,” by Jacqueline Davies).
Now, if this activity is a bit too involved, you can easily participate in the Project Feeder Watch program from your own backyard!
The winter count season ends April 29. Simply set up a feeder in your backyard and choose two dates to conduct your count. Be encouraged that you aren’t required to continuously watch! Simply record the times that you do watch your feeder during your chosen day. There are some additional instructions on how to accurately count the birds can be found at feederwatch.org. You can also find printable tally sheets on that website.
Helping scientists gather and record this local data leads to new discoveries and understanding about animal behavior, habitat, and weather changes. And observing nature intentionally and recording data are excellent skills for your student to practice.
If you take part in your own backyard bird count, share with us on Facebook or Instagram! We would love to see your new discoveries.
Nicole Paitsel is the co-founder of Learning with Friends, a science enrichment curriculum that promotes discovery, conversation, and connection. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to take a deeper dive into Biology? Check out our 12-week hands-on Biology Bundle in the Learning with Friends shop.