for the birds

one fabulous aspect of homeschooling is being able to tailor studies to a child’s individual passions. my son is passionate about birds so – as part of our studies this year – we’re doing a unit on birds, using lesson plans from cornell university’s lab of ornithology. one element of our studies involves cornell’s project feeder watch program which is citizen-based science. we – along with folks from all corners of north america – will observe types and numbers of birds that visit our feeders from mid-november through early april. we will report our data to cornell; the results will be compiled and used to further research on north american birds. cool, right? we think so.

official counts begin next week ({t’s not too late to join if you’re interested…anyone can do it!} but my eager birdwatchers decided to get started yesterday.

we’ve been enjoying the birds for about a week now…it took them awhile to find our feeders. and now that they’re here, i am feeling quite responsible for their well-being…they’re counting on us, at least in part, for their food.

while our counts will be entered electronically, we’re making some old-fashioned lists in journals. the kids got busy with that…some great markers of our time in the making, i think.

when we signed up for this bird study, cornell supplied some great resources.  from one of the included handbooks, my daughter read about chickadees yesterday…how if one stands very, very still, a chickadee might take seeds right from his/her hand. needless to say, this was something we had to try. my kids patiently stood, knelt, sat with hands outstretched. so precious.

sooner than her older brother, my six year old daughter grew tired of waiting and instead embarked upon designing her own bird feeder. i tried to follow her lead and let her do it her way {paper cups…”but there’s wax on them to protect them, mama”}, only stepping in where I thought she really needed a suggestion {connecting the cups with twine versus the scotch and masking tapes that were clearly not sticking}.  she was quite proud of her design and finished product.

i am hoping one of our birds happens to try out her feeder, hoping that she witnesses it.

as for my son, who waited and waited and waited {so that his hand was later cramped}, he was granted a small reward when a chickadee landed on his hand for a split-second.  too quick for me to snap a picture.  but the touch was indeed felt.  and, for my son, it was quite a thrill.

sending a little love your way, m


3 thoughts on “for the birds

  1. Hi there…tell the kids that it really helps if they hold their hands up high…those little flighty birds don’t like to feel confined. As the birds get used to your feeder (and seeing the kids around), the braver ones will eventually feel safe enough to land and eat out of the kids’ hands. We did it with my class one year and even the ‘tough’ kids were enchanted.
    Can’t wait to hear about all the comings and goings of your feathered friends…


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