How to Be a Part of the Great Backyard Bird Count

Cardinal in winter
Male Cardinal

Great Backyard Bird Count Activities for The Whole Family!

The Great Backyard Bird Count takes place every February and helps give ornithologists the big picture of our wild bird populations. Be a part of the project by taking 15 minutes to observe the bird species in your backyard this weekend. Report your findings to help the National Audobon Society and The Cornell Lab of Ornithology do a bird population study!

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To Be A Part Of The Great Backyard Bird Count…

Anyone can be a part of the fun! Check out the information at Great Backyard Bird Count for information on how to get started. Their site explains how to participate. They have great photos from last year’s photo contest, too! You can find out about the data collected and learn about different bird species.

Dark eyed junco
Dark Eyed Junco

Check out online identification guides with All About Birds and the Audubon Guide to North American Birds. These free identification guides help identify your backyard birds.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is a great way for anyone to learn more about birds and help scientists get a better idea of changes in our bird populations. Get the whole family involved by including your children or grandchildren too!

Black Capped Chickadee on feeder

How To Help Birds In Your Backyard!

  • Feed high-quality seed to avoid waste
  • Clean feeders often with bleach water to avoid sickening birds
  • Place feeders away from domestic poultry pens to avoid sick poultry
  • Feed year-round to help nesting and overwintering birds
  • Hang hummingbird and oriole feeders in summer and change nectar often
Hummingbirds love pink and scarlet bee balm.

Planting For The Birds…

Plant trees, shrubs, and flowers that help feed wild birds. Here are some plants that provide food or nesting places:

  • Serviceberry tree
  • Hawthorne
  • Mountain ash
  • Rose of Sharon
  • Holly
  • Honeysuckle
  • Weigela
  • Scarlet Trumpet vine
  • Sunflower
  • Cardinal flower
  • Coral bells
  • Bee balm
  • Butterfly bush

Provide a source of water for birds year-round too!

Bohemian Waxwings

Cornell Lab of Ornithology Free Educational Resources

If you are an educator or a homeschooler, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology website is a great resource. They have K -12 lessons and activities available for different levels of comprehension.

hummingbird feeding on flowers
Female Ruby Throated hummingbird

Curriculum Units & Resources

You can download some of their curriculum units by age level for free! There are kits you may purchase, including an owl pellet kit. If you live somewhere that owls hunt, you might be able to find your own owl pellets to investigate!

They also have free videos, a free ‘Investigating Evidence’ curriculum with Teacher’s Guide, resource and journal pages, and online resources.

The Book Units that go with popular children’s books are also a great resource. Take books out of the library to read with kids, then use the units to work through age-appropriate lessons.

Ebird Course and Newsletter for Educators

Another free resource for educators is the free eBird course and newsletter with units for learning and teaching ornithology. There really is a lot available on the Cornell Lab website to learn about birds!

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Bird Crafts and Printables

Here are some free resources for creating crafts and fun printable images for your budding backyard bird enthusiasts!

The Graphics Fairy has vintage bird images that you may download and print out for free. (There are premium kits available for purchase, but I haven’t used those.) Create your greeting cards or a mini bird book with kids. You can also decorate your lesson plans, calendars, and crafts!

Coloring Ws and Mom Junction have coloring pages geared toward early education.

The Indianapolis Public Library website has free bird books for young children available online. They also have links to bird crafts for preschoolers and early education. And of course, you can find a ton of educational bird activities on Pinterest!

Here are Some Fun Videos About Birds for Kids…

Families can make the backyard bird count a part of their home education efforts! You don’t have to be a homeschooler to share these fun videos and the crafts above with your children. Most of all, you’ll enjoy spending time with each other learning about the natural world!

I hope you take part in the backyard bird count this year and share your findings to help scientists track the health and numbers of our bird populations!

Do you plan to take part in the backyard bird count? Leave a comment!

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2 Comments

    • Lisa Lombardo

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