Last week I featured the book Crow Smarts, about how some crows make tools and can figure out puzzles. This week the focus is on birds in your neighborhood.
The best way to watch birds is to be somewhere they can't see or hear you. I like to sit by a window and watch, but some birdwatchers build blinds. Roberta has some great instructions on how to build a bird blind over at Growing With Science.
Go on a Feather Walk. Take a camera or notebook and colored pencils so you can take photos or draw detailed pictures of feathers you see on your walk (it is illegal to collect feathers). If you have a bird guide, try to identify what birds the feathers might have come from. Otherwise, check out the US Fish & Wildlife service's Feather Atlas.
Feed the birds. Get involved in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Feeder Watch. Beginning in November (once the bears are hibernating), you load up the feeders and a couple times a week count the birds visiting your feeder. Feeder Watchers submit data from November through April. That data helps scientists track movements of winter bird populations as well as long-term trends in the bird populations. The data has shown how some populations have expanded their northern range as the climate has warmed.
Build a Bird Feeder. If you don't have one, here are some instructions for building a bird feeder from Wildlife Watch.
Learn a new song. Listen to the sounds your local birds make. See if you can learn a song, or call. If your birds are too shy to sing when you're around, head over to Cornell Lab of Ornithology and listen to calls of various birds there.