The Great Backyard Bird Count begins this Friday. What a perfect way to observe nature with your kids and participate in a national science project. Just last week, I noticed a huge number of American Robins in my backyard. There were hundreds of them, many more than I usually see, so I researched online to find that many robins migrate. While some may stay in an area all winter long, most move in flocks place to place to find tree and shrub berries that ripen in late winter.
Science is that simple with children. I observed something in nature, had a question about it and looked for the answer. Answers can come from many different sources. Check a book out of the library or keep watching those birds to see if you can come up with your own answers. The important thing is to keep watching nature with your children and talking to them about what they see. With spring coming, the animals outside are all busy getting ready, and the plants are starting to awaken. I just saw my first flower yesterday!
How can I participate? All you have to do is identify and count the birds in your backyard over a 15 minute time period and log them into the website (www.birdsource.org/gbbc). Details, instructions and bird activity ideas can also be found on the website.
Why does it help scientists for us to count birds? Birds move over vast areas and can do so with great speed. This makes tracking them difficult for a small group of scientists, but if they have help of people across the USA, they have more data to work with and can gain an understanding of our bird populations. This bird count is done every year, so data can be compared year to year to study the effects of weather, diseases, migration patterns and timing, as well as how populations in rural areas compare to suburban areas.