Do you feed birds in your yard? Having bird feeders nearby provides many opportunities for some close-up observations. A simple provocation with the right tools and your children will be off on some wonderful explorations. We’ve been feeding the birds in our yard for quite some time so my children have been able to make some long-term observations of the birds’ behaviors. They also like watching various bird cams and have learned from those as well. As their understanding of the types of birds that frequent our yard has grown, they have become more interested in doing what they can to take care of our feathered neighbors. So, my children decided that where our feeder is currently needs to become a bird-feeding haven. Just having a feeder was no longer enough. When they first brought it up to me, many ideas were excitedly shared. The next day I took a photo of the area of our yard, printed off several copies, and left them out as a simple invitation: My children snatched them up as soon as they saw them and set to drawing out their ideas. The activity also led to designing their own bird houses and feeders. They were so excited! Over the course of a couple of days, they would revisit their designs and make adjustments. For example, each child had included a bird house or two but realized on their own that perhaps birds would not want to nest where so many birds were feeding. My youngest had designed a bird house with a platform feeder just outside the opening but came to the conclusion, all on her own, that perhaps that would not be best. I just love how much consideration they put into their designs and that on their own came to some conclusions based on what they know about birds. If you would like to create your own bird-feeding haven, here are some things to consider:
- Feeders/Food: What types of food are best for the birds in your yard? What type of feeders are most appropriate? Can you incorporate some plants/bushes that will provide food? Are you able to provide food year round? Can you easily keep the area and feeders clean?
- Shelter/Structure: Provide a variety of places to rest and find shelter and be sure to consider various heights. Some birds may seek ground cover, others a higher place of refuge. Also consider nearby windows that may be a hazard as well as hiding places for predators.
- Water: Don’t forget water! Do you have a space for a bird bath? Water is just as important as food to the birds.
We’ll be incorporating several feeders (a caged tube style, a platform feeder, and a suet cage), a bird bath, a small loose brush pile, and a bush or two. There are already trees of various types and heights in the area. Nearby we also have some flowering bushes which the hummingbirds love and so we hang a hummingbird feeder there. Throughout our yard we have placed bird houses, provided bird-friendly plants, and have lots of areas for shelter. Last season we were blessed with three different types of bird nests and could watch the birds raise their young.
If you would like to create your own bird-feeding haven, encourage your child to spend some time observing the birds in your yard and research with them the types of food and shelter you can provide. A nature journal would be a great place to record those observations! These resources will be helpful when helping your child plan your bird-feeding area or creating a bird-friendly yard:
- This article from Project Feeder Watch
- Touch a Butterfly by April Pulley Sayre
- The Audubon Backyard Birdwatcher
- Bringing Nature Home by Douglas Tallamy
What would you include in your design? If you have any helpful tips or have a successful bird-feeding area already, we would love to hear about it!
Happy bird watching!