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Have you heard of the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC)? It’s a citizen science event that’s fun, free, and easy to do! It’s sponsored by the National Audubon Society, and it will be held from Friday, February 17, 2017 – Monday, February 20, 2017. We are using this wonderful citizen science project as a launching point for a Backyard Bird Study.
GBBC is an annual event for people of all ages in which you spend at least 15 minutes bird watching in your backyard or wherever else you happen to be. The goal is to gain a better understanding of bird populations throughout North America. As you see different birds, keep track of how many of each one you see. Then you report the area where you were bird watching, the kinds of birds you saw, and the number of each kind of bird that you recorded. Of course young children will need help from a parent or older sibling, so this is a terrific way to get the whole family involved in your homeschool!
Why Count Birds?
- It’s a great way to spend some time with your kids doing something educational that you can all enjoy together.
- It’s a fun way to help them get more interested in science and nature.
- It’s a way of giving back to the community. All of the information collected helps researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society learn more about birds in different areas, how well those birds are faring, and how to help protect them and the environment.
- It’s a wonderful way of sneaking in a little bit of geography and graphing without your children suspecting anything! (On the GBBC website during and after the count, participants will be able to explore real-time maps and charts that show what others are reporting/have reported.
You can use this printable tally sheet as you do your bird watching. If you type in your city and state or your zip code, it will give you a list of the birds that are normally found in your area so you’ll know which birds to look for. Later, you can move your information to our printable bar graph to compare the numbers of different kinds of birds. We created this simple bar graph chart just for you to print and use to help make this fun and educational! We suggest printing out several copies so you’ll have extras on hand if you need them. (If you have friends who are interested in participating, please share the link to this article and have them print their own. Thank you!)
Learn How to Identify Birds
We love to use opportunities like this as launching pads for a deeper studies, and since we have a few weeks before the count starts, I would absolutely dive into a study! My go-to resource for science curriculum is always Apologia… so it is no surprise that we will be using their Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day as the spine for this study. Since this textbook is packed full of hands-on exploration, it is the perfect complement to the bird count. This textbook actually covers characteristics that you will need to use in order to identify the birds for the bird count!! So this will help all of us learn about birds’ physical characteristics, nesting habits, flight patterns, and more, which helps us determine the names of the birds. This textbook also teaches us how to attract birds to your own yards, so it is a PERFECT study leading up to the GBBC!
We have a BRAND NEW JUST LAUNCHED resource for studying birds! These beautiful Bird Notebooking Pages! These pages are great for a fun and easy study, and they’re ready for you to print and use. (You’re free to make as many copies as you need for use with your own family.) You can use these pages to record the taxonomy of the birds you observe as well as other information that you can easily find such as habitat, mating, diet, and behavior. And you’ll love that the pages are black and white with minimal color added so that printing is more affordable!
More Ideas for Using Our Bird Notebooking Pages
- Use them as a stand-alone resource for your own study of birds.
- They are also a great supplement for use along with Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day.
- Using what you’ve learned about birds, write bird stories on the blank lined pages (included).
- Make your own backyard notebooking nature journal featuring birds in your area.
- Choose one common bird in your area, copy that page several times, and create your own booklet about that species.
- Use these pages to create a report. Make a presentation board to go along with it, and give an oral report.
- As you study the states, use these pages to study each state bird.
- Do a fun bird unit based on a book, song, or movie! For example, do a study of penguins as you read Mr. Popper’s Penguins.
Take Some Pictures
In conjunction with the Great Backyard Bird Count is a Photography Contest! So be sure to get some great pictures of your children counting birds, of the birds, their behavior, them in their habitat, them with other birds, of your tally sheets, and of your notebooking pages–anything to document your study and to submit to GBBC. And since you have pictures, you might as well share them on Facebook and Instagram to inspire others to join the count, right? I absolutely love seeing how others are homeschooling! In order to be able to find each other, let’s use a hashtag on this citizen science project. Obviously use their hashtag #greatbackyardbirdcount, but also use ours #365homeschool and #hiphomeschoolmoms so we can tell which ones are homeschoolers. Our #365homeschool project is a year long peek inside homeschools and it now has over 10,000 images shared!
Create a Backyard Birds Photo Album
And, for those of you who are like me who enjoy creating photo albums to keep our memories accessible and make them enjoyable to look back on, we have a discount for Chatbooks! Chatbooks does the work for you and allows you to keep those beautiful images in your choice of a softback or hardback book for free (if you start a subscription). You can use Chatbooks to create photo albums from your photos on Facebook, Instagram, or even from your favorite pictures on your phone if you don’t use social media. And of course you can use Chatbooks for any of the pictures you take, not just the ones for the GBBC, but this is a great place to start! The discount code you’ll need is WeRHipHSMoms.
Over the next few weeks we will be bringing other ideas about how to expand your bird study… so be watching for those articles!