Setting up a bird feeder is one of the simplest and most educational activities you can do in a homeschool setting. You can feed the birds in your neighborhood at any time of year, although winter is certainly the most popular season.
Whether you’re a beginning backyard birder or an experienced veteran, a resource you’ll want to explore is Project FeederWatch from Cornell University:
- ➢ Project Feederwatch from Cornell University (feederwatch.org)
- ➢ Beginner’s Guide to Winter Bird Feeding (pdf) (feederwatch.org)
Why not print out that short beginner’s guide and have your students study it and develop a custom bird feeding plan for your homeschool.
There are a lot of free resources available on the Project FeederWatch website, and if you wish you can also register as a project participant (for a small fee) and get some very nice posters of common North American feeder birds — great for your homeschool classroom — as well as access to some excellent publications about birds and natural history. When you register, any records you submit of the birds you see at your feeder will be included in a database that tracks winter bird populations across the United States and around the world.
If you’re in the market for a bird feeder you’ll find that there are many different types available, from simple and inexpensive to ornamental and costly. (Fancy feeders don’t necessarily appeal to birds any more than plain ones.) Here are a variety of selections from Amazon.com that you can explore — browse around and find one or two that would fit well in your own backyard setting:
- ➢ Tube and Hopper Feeders, best for chickadees and finches
- ➢ Suet Feeders, best for woodpeckers and nuthatches
- ➢ Window Feeders, for close-up views
- ➢ Platform Feeders, best for ground-loving birds such as cardinals
If your students watch carefully over the course of the year, 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 usually be attracted to your seed offerings, but they will readily come to a suet feeder.
Why not set up your own homeschool bird feeder and see how many educational discoveries you can make in your own backyard. 😊
❡ Books in the running brooks: Our recommended homeschool reference library 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, it can be made solitary or social, and birds can be found just about anywhere at any season of the year. Why not track your own homeschool bird observations using the free eBird website 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. 🐦
❡ Nature notes: This is one of our regular Homeschool Natural History posts. Add your name to our weekly mailing list and get great homeschool teaching ideas delivered right to your mailbox all through the year. 🗞
❡ Homeschool calendars: We have a whole collection of free, printable, educational homeschool calendars and planners available on our main River Houses calendar page. They will all help you create a light and easy structure for your homeschool year. Give them a try today! 🗓
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