Outdoors

The Great Bird Count

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The Great Bird Count 2Last week was The Great Bird Count from February 14-17.  The bird count was started by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society.  It is an online data collection of, you guessed it, bird sightings.  You simply register and keep track of the birds you observe during the four-day period.  You are able to see in real time the different variety of birds from all over.  This is a great activity for school or home.  We loved the opportunity to enjoy nature and have Lily learn and experience at the same time.

The Great Bird Count

We celebrated the week with a few different bird activities.  We made sure to read one of Lily’s favorite books, Riki’s Birdhouse by one of her favorite authors, Monica Wellington.

DSC_7635In reality, Lily loves all of her books. Monica Wellington mixes a whimsical and child-friendly perspective with informational text. Engaging and educational,  gotta love that.  She also incorporates extension activities at the end of every book.  In Riki’s Birdhouse there are plans for building and installing a birdhouse, a recipe for bird food cupcakes, and other resources for further exploration.  Lily had us read this book every night last week.  She is definitely obsessed!

The Great Bird CountWe also built a birdhouse of our own, without following any particular plan.  Lily and I found some scraps of plywood.  We measured and cut the pieces we needed.  Then we used brads to join the pieces.  I also have a 1 3/4″ hole saw drill bit that we used to make the entryway for our feathered friends.  Lastly, we drilled a 3/4″  hole just below and slid a dowel in for a perch.  My next step is to learn how to build a house for people.  Can it be as easy as the birdhouse?  Lily loved painting the birdhouse.  She chose red for the base and black for the roof.  In all honesty, I think she did a much better job than I would have ever done.  We can’t wait to see if we get a family living there in the springtime.

The Great Bird CountLily also drew and painted some of the birds we observed in our backyard, starting her first science journal.  She definitely has an artist’s hand.  It also helps that Kelly, her mother, is an exceptional art teacher and artist.  Kelly taught her to draw a bird using a few basic shapes. Lily used marker to outline her bird and then added watercolors to finish.  It was amazing to me the care she put forth into her creation, not to mention the actual finished piece.  Sometimes it is hard to believe that my daughter is just four years old.

The Great Bird Count

We really enjoyed The Great Bird Count and all the activities that it inspired.  You probably wouldn’t believe that simply looking out your window at some backyard aviators could be the source of so much fun.  We are all looking forward to next year’s count! 🙂

The Great Bird Count

Bird Seed Ornaments

Bird Seed Ornaments

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DSC_3934What better way to deal with the harsh temperatures of winter than to make some tasty treats for our flying friends outside. 

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My family found a great recipe online to make bird seed ornaments.  Since we recently celebrated Valentine’s Day, we just had to use heart-shaped molds.  Here are the ingredients we used:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin, such as Knox
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 4 cups birdseed

We combined the water and corn syrup in a saucepan over medium-high heat, bringing it to a boil and stirring until the syrup dissolved.  Once it boiled, we dropped the heat to a simmer and added the gelatin.  Again, we continued to stir until the gelatin dissolved.  At this point you will want to move quickly to avoid the liquid from setting to soon.  

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We poured the liquid into a mixing bowl and added the flour, stirring until fully incorporated.  Then we added the bird seed and made sure to mix it well.  You will want to make sure all the seed gets covered by the gelatin or you’ll have some sad looking ornaments.  

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We then crammed and pushed the mixture into cookie cutters.  Once we filled the molds, we put holes toward the top of the hearts in order to string them when they dried.  We used a straw to create these holes.  

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Make sure you take time to ponder the mysteries of life.

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After they dried, we tied some decorative ribbon around them to hang them in the backyard.  DSC_3867This also gave Lily some greatly needed practice with tying.

When everything was all said and done, we would definitely recommend this project to anyone.  It’s a great activity to do with the children and to attract some beautiful and bright wildlife to your yard during the dark days of winter.  

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Just don’t let your child eat the birdseed, no matter how delicious it looks!

If you would like more information on the process, this is the website where we found the recipe.