One of our favorite bird-related activities, the Great Backyard Bird Count, is coming up next month: February 14-17, 2014.
The bird count is a fabulous example of a child-friendly citizen science project. Basically all you need to do is count the birds you see over 15 minutes and then report them. Although it is called "backyard," you can count anywhere you find birds, including parks, preserves or fields.
If you have participated before 2013, you will find the process has changed slightly. Now you will enter your data with the eBird data collection program, so there's an extra step. You will need to sign up for an account with eBird and then use that to enter your counts. The advantage of signing up is that you will be able to use eBird throughout the year, and you can keep bird lists, etc.
You will find plenty of information and instructions about how to participate at the website.
Be sure to check the links on the For Educators page for a lot of good ideas for activities to extend the project.
Remember: One easy way to encourage birds is to plant sunflowers, like the ones in the photograph below, or other plants that produce fruit and seeds.
Are you doing a unit on birds? Here are two lists of bird books for children:
1. Taking Flight: a List of Children’s Books About Bird Migration at Science Books for Kids
2. List of children's books for young birdwatchers at Science Books for Kids
We would love to hear if you participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count. What kinds of birds do you see in your backyard?
Edited Jan. 15, 2014