If your children are interested in birds or you just want a good excuse to get outside, check out The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC).
At Arts and Smarts, Inc., we talk a lot about experiencing nature as a context for developing creative traits. Getting outside sparks curiosity, ignites passion, and engages children in a complex world that helps them build background knowledge and illustrate broad connections. Paradoxically, while nature can be a foundation for all of these activities, it is also a great place for quiet contemplation that allows for reflection and subconscious creative activity.
Coming up soon is this great outdoor activity in which to participate. The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is an annual bird watching event coordinated by the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology and the Audubon Society.
What – A worldwide count of birds
When – February 16 – 19, 2018
Where – Your backyard!!
How – Sign up online (ahead of time preferably) through the website and download a checklist of birds found in your zip code and an observation form. Then, for as little as 15 minutes, go outside and count (and identify if possible) the birds you see.
You can conduct your count in your backyard or any other location of your choice. You can even make your observations at more than one location during the course of the weekend. Then, sign in to the GBBC site and submit your observations. There’s a slideshow posted to the GBBC website that walks you through what to do and how to do it.
· Take pictures of and make notes about the birds you see – after you make your initial count, sit back for a few minutes and record the birds in more detail through photos and notes on their behaviors. You can prepare for these notes by making a nature journal ahead of time.
· Draw pictures from the photos – once you get back inside, look at the photos and use them as a reference for drawing pictures of the birds (either in the journal where you left a space for the drawings or on a separate sheet of paper). This is a great opportunity for building those observation skills.
· Research the birds – either online or at the library. Peterson’s guides are a great place to start, but the Internet is full of sites devoted to learning about birds.
· GBBC Photo Contest – consider submitting a photo to the Great Backyard Bird Count contest. Rules and procedures are explained on the GBBC website.
· Explore Data – There are all kinds of things you can do with the data collected by the GBBC. You can learn more about birds. Learn about birds and their behavior, compare overall findings with your own, acquire map skills, and much more.
We'd love to hear about your experiences with birds!