Backyard BirdingBy Barbara Bennett
Backyards and bird feeders are an excellent way to begin bird watching or birding. They provide all you need to begin: birds, opportunities to learn common birds in your area and practice using binoculars or bins.
Our area is home to Chickadees, Finches, Cardinals, Nuthatches, Blue Jays, Woodpeckers, Doves, Bluebirds, and Sparrows. A common Feeder Birds Poster is available for free at http://feederwatch.org/learn/identifying-birds/ . Notice the size, shape and color of these birds as they will serve as a guideline to venturing outside your backyard. Since you are at home use your computer as a resource and check out the awesome interactive identifying program at http://feederwatch.org/learn/common-feeder-birds/ .
If you do not already have a bird feeder it is easy to create one or purchase a cheap bird feeder to attract birds to your backyard. Just find a piece of string, a pine cone and some peanut butter. Wrap the string around the pine cone, spread some peanut butter on the cone and then hang it outside on a tree or a location where it can hang at least four feet above the ground and preferably close to bushes or trees. (Don’t be surprised if you attract a squirrel they love peanut butter also.) Two inexpensive options to the pine cone: one is buying a cake of suet and suet holder and hang it up. Woodpeckers, Chickadees, and Bluebirds just love suet! The second option is especially geared to attracting finches. Just purchase a bag of Nyjer seed and a sock designed to hold Nyjer seed and hang it outside. It won’t be long before it is covered with gold finches! These items are easy to find at local nursery and garden centers.
Once you have mastered your backyard birds it’s time to venture into the woods or fields. Try to go to a place where you know there will be birds or visit the Bucks County Audubon or Churchville Nature Center as they have birding early every Saturday. http://www.bcas.org/ or http://www.churchvillenaturecenter.org Even if the birds are common or even the same as the ones at your feeders it will be and adventure and exciting to see them in their habitat. Take a picture or draw a sketch of any unknown bird and use the free online resource, http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/search to learn your unknown bird’s identity.