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Birds: Observe and Learn

Almost everyone sees birds in their everyday environment.   But how much do they really notice and think about the birds?  What do they know about birds?

Do they know that birds most likely descended from dinosaurs? Can they name the birds they see regularly?  Do they know what different birds like to eat?  If they know that birds have nests, do they know that mother birds lay eggs in the nest and then sit on the eggs to keep them warm while baby birds grow inside the eggs? Baby birds are born by cracking open the egg shell from the inside.  They live in the nest and the adult birds bring them food.

Any time is good for parents and their children to observe the ordinary birds in their own neighborhood and also to use the internet to watch extra-ordinary birds around the world as they lay eggs, sit on them to keep them warm, then care for them once they are born.  At the same time parents and children are observing local and distant birds, parents can take the lead in jointly learning more about birds.

There are many starting-points for an extended family-based investigation of birds.  You can start by just noticing and talking about birds in your neighborhood. The birds in your neighborhood will vary by which part of  the country you live in. For example in the north-east you will see pigeons and sparrows, and most likely also robins and cardinals.  There are several on-line sources to help you identify birds.  These include Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology and The Audubon Foundation.

These websites also contain videos about birds, activities for parents and children to do together, and webcams live streaming both bird feeding stations and the inside of bird nests.  Some people have said that live streaming of nesting birds can be as addictive as TV reality shows or soap-operas – ongoing plot, drama, and suspense that draw viewers back for the next episode.

Other excellent resources for learning more about birds include The Nature Conservancy and the National Wildlife Organization.

Start now – take a walk around your yard or neighborhood and see how many different kinds of birds you see.  Take notes, make a checklist, go out the same time tomorrow and see if you find the same birds in the same places.

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