Friday is Natural History Day in the River Houses, and with winter approaching, this is the right time to start thinking about feeding birds in your backyard. It’s one of the simplest and most educational homeschool activities you can do during the winter season.
Whether you’re a beginning backyard birder or an old hand, the resource you’ll want to explore is Project FeederWatch from Cornell University:
They even have a special educational guide for homeschoolers:
“The Homeschooler’s Guide to Project FeederWatch is a free eight-page document that contains ideas for families participating in Project FeederWatch. These lesson-starters will help you teach multiple subjects using birds and will inspire creative ideas for science-related art projects, designing and building feeders, strengthening math skills, and assisting children in conducting a research project.”
If you’re in the market for a feeder you’ll find that there are many different types available. Here are some selections at Amazon.com that you can explore — browse around and find one or two that would fit well in your own backyard setting:
If your students watch carefully over the course of the winter, they will discover that different bird species exhibit different behaviors: chickadees will generally pick up a single seed and fly away with it; winter finches, by contrast, will usually perch and keep eating until something scares them away. Cardinals will generally choose a flat surface to feed on if one is available, while finches will happily feed from slender perches well off the ground. Woodpeckers won’t be attracted to your seed offerings, but they will readily come to a suet feeder.
Set up a homeschool bird feeder or two this winter, and see how many educational discoveries you can make in your own backyard. 😊
❡ Books in the running brooks: Our River Houses reference library (riverhouses.org/books) includes an excellent bird guide that would serve your homeschool well. Many other similar guides are also available — find one that’s a good fit for your family and take it with you on all your outings, whether far afield or just out to the backyard. 🦉
❡ Homeschool birds: We think bird study is one of the best subjects you can take up in a homeschool environment. It’s suitable for all ages, it can be made as simple or as complex as you wish, and birds can be found just about anywhere at any season of the year. Why not track your own homeschool bird observations on the free eBird website (eBird.org), also sponsored by Cornell University. It’s a great way to learn more about what’s in your local area and about how bird populations change from season to season. 🐦