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If you’re looking for a simple homeschool science and nature project this winter, you won’t find anything better than the Great Backyard Bird Count scheduled for 15–18 February. Now’s the time to put it on your calendar.
The Great Backyard Bird Count is sponsored by Cornell University and several other organizations, and each year it produces a snapshot of birdlife across the United States and around the world:
Anyone who participates (like you and your students) is making a genuine contribution to our understanding of global bird populations:
“Launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, the Great Backyard Bird Count was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time.
“Now, more than 160,000 people of all ages and walks of life worldwide join the four-day count each February to create an annual snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds.
“We invite you to participate! For at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, February 15-18, 2019, simply tally the numbers and kinds of birds you see. You can count from any location, anywhere in the world, for as long as you wish!“ (birdcount.org)
If you’re a beginner, the easiest way to get started is with a backyard feeder. 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:
Your participation in the GBBC doesn’t have to be just feeder-watching, of course, and it doesn’t literally have to be in a “backyard.” Just pick any nearby location of interest — a farm field, a city park, a local lake, a patch of woods, or your backyard — count the birds you see for at least 15 minutes, and then report your observations on birdcount.org. And then watch as thousands of other reports come in from all around the world. It’s homeschool science at its best. 😊
What outdoor discoveries have your students made lately?
❡ Books in the running brooks: Our recommended homeschool 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 elementary or as advanced 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) 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. 🐦