Saturday, January 24, 2009

January Creation Club - Birds!

Well, we had another really neat Creation Club meeting this week. Before starting this group I had no idea where any local nature centers were, let alone that there would be so many. We decided to study birds this month and we were really in for a treat. The nature center we visited had a "bird blind". This is a small heated building with large windows along one side. Outside the windows were several bird feeders. There was even a speaker feature that we could turn on inside the building and listen to the birds outside.

One of the moms in the group planned this trip. It was so helpful to have her there to help us to identify the birds. She gave the kids printouts with black and white pictures of the most familiar birds to our area to use to keep a bird count for the day. The bird above is a chickadee. Keeping count of the birds made it like a game for the kids and kept them interested.

Thanks to Kim, from our group, I know that this bird is a carolina wren.

Many of you will probably recognize this bird, but I didn't know what it was. It's a downy woodpecker! Pretty cool, right?

Okay, the cardinal was the only bird we saw that I actually did recognize.

Look at how red he is! When going through my pictures, I realized I didn't have any of the female cardinals which are a much duller red, almost brown color.

Sort of like Where's Waldo. Can you see all four cardinals? When taking a bird count, you can only count the birds you can see at one time. So if you think there are four cardinals, you can only write it down if you see four all at once. We are in cardinal country, so we saw plenty of these. I counted four males and five females in the thirty minutes we were out there.

After the bird watching we made some simple bird feeders.

Use gallon milk jugs and cut out holes on the opposite sides of the handle. (see picture).
Then poke a hole under each cut out circle with a large nail or spike. Slide a dowel rod through the holes to create a perch on each side.
Use a small nail to poke several holes on the bottom of the jug for water drainage.
Use the small nail to punch holes on either side of the lid and thread and tie a metal wire through the top.

You can fill this with any type of bird seed you like and hang it on your back deck or a tree in your yard.

Want another cool bird idea for you and your kids? Try participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count in February. Here's some information from their site:

"The Great Backyard Bird Count (or GBBC) is an event that takes place over four days in February each year. It's very easy! All you have to do is watch birds in your yard, a nearby park, or maybe at your school. Then you tell us what you saw by entering your bird list online. We collect that information from people all over the United States and Canada so scientists can learn what kind of birds are being seen in the winter and whether there are more or fewer of them than before. You'll have more fun taking part in the Great Backyard Bird Count if you first learn about the birds you're most likely to see. We have some fun ways for you to become familiar with birds. Visit our website at

Count for Fun, Count for the Future

New York, NY and Ithaca, NY—Bird and nature fans throughout North America are invited to join tens of thousands of everyday bird watchers for the 12th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), February 13-16, 2009. This free event is an opportunity for families, students, and people of all ages to discover the wonders of nature in backyards, schoolyards, and local parks, and, at the same time, make an important contribution to conservation. Participants count birds and report their sightings online.

“The Great Backyard Bird Count benefits both birds and people. It’s a great example of citizen science: Anyone who can identify even a few species can contribute to the body of knowledge that is used to inform conservation efforts to protect birds and biodiversity,” said Audubon Education VP, Judy Braus. “Families, teachers, children and all those who take part in GBBC get a chance to improve their observation skills, enjoy nature, and have a great time counting for fun, counting for the future.”Anyone can take part, from novice bird watchers to experts, by counting birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the event and reporting their sightings. Participants can also explore what birds others are finding in their backyards—whether in their own neighborhood or thousands of miles away. Additional online resources include tips to help identify birds, a photo gallery, and special materials for educators."

I was told that that if you put your bird feeders out now, you'll have plenty of them visiting in time for the Bird Count in February. Happy Bird Watching! Pin It Now!

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