The homeschool year is getting underway, so this is the perfect time for you and your students to start keeping a bird list for your backyard, neighborhood, or town.
Natural history, and bird study in particular, is one of the best subjects to teach to homeschool students — it’s simple for beginners and can become as scientifically advanced as you wish as students progress from year to year. If you get your beginning students noticing and naming a few bird species in your backyard and around your neighborhood, they’ll all become friends for life.
The best way to keep track of your homeschool bird observations is by joining the free eBird website (ebird.org) sponsored by Cornell University’s Laboratory of Ornithology. It lets you keep track of your observations from week to week, season to season, and year to year. You can discover seasonal migration patterns and patterns of abundance and scarcity, and you can add your own observations to millions of others to help build up a picture of bird populations across the country and around the world:
I use eBird to track a small riverside park in my neighborhood. It’s not an unusual or dramatic place: just a tiny park you can walk across in ten minutes. But by making a few observations each week, I can assemble a fine record of what birds occur there — in this case, more than 60 species. Here’s a profile chart eBird has created from these observations:
You can add photos and sound recordings of the species you encounter (along with basic occurrences and counts). And you can see how your observations compare to those from nearby localities, and how they fit in with your county and state as a whole. Give eBird a try in your homeschool — it may help you discover a world of new educational opportunities for your students.
What nature notes have you taken in your homeschool lately? 🦉
❡ 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. 😊