Whether you are a city-dweller, or make your home in the country, bird watching is one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to interact with nature. And, save for the coldest months in some areas, it is an activity that can be pursued year-round by people of all ages and with minimal equipment. In fact, all you really need to get started is an interest and a keen pair of eyes.
A big part of the fun of bird watching is recording your sightings. Journals, like Ink Me Up’s lovely Gocco printed moleskin ones pictured above, are the perfect place to jot down all of the important details. These even include a little pocket in the back for gathering feathers and other treasures!
If you are bird watching with the family, you might want to make sure that everyone has their own journal for their observations. The mini eco-booklets by Nature’s Cubbyhole (below) are just the right size for tucking into a pocket or field-bag. Each booklet is filled with 100% recycled banana farm fiber paper pages and hand-stitched with organic cotton thread.
Even smaller children can be encouraged to take part in journaling by making drawings or using stickers, such as these ones (below) made from the waste edges and roll-ends of industrial adhesive vinyl material by Bird vs. Bird Studios.
One of my favourite things about bird watching is that you don’t even have to leave home to do it. Whether you have a backyard or just a balcony, you can easily invite some feathered friends into your space just by providing them with a few creature-comforts. The most obvious way to entice birds is with food. There are dozens of ways to set out a seedy snack, but my favourites are these clever and colourful feeders by Red Yellow & Blue Ink (below).
The feeders, which are made from repurposed traffic signal lenses, are definitely attention-getters. In their past-life, they stopped cars on the street; hang one in your backyard and watch them stop traffic of a different kind. Check out Jenny’s You Tube video of some Gold Finches enthusiastically enjoying their dinner in one of her upcycled feeders:
Another essential for attracting birds to your backyard is water. Birds who stop by for a snack will appreciate a cool drink and an opportunity to have a refreshing bath; something that is always entertaining for observers. Birdbaths range from simple to elaborate and can be found to suit any landscaping theme. Don’t feel that you need to spend a lot of money, though; the important thing is to keep the bath full with fresh, clean water.
Lastly, if you have the space, why not invite a family of birds to take up permanent residence in your backyard? It’s as simple as finding a safe place to put out a nesting box or birdhouse, like this rustic example from Roy Road Fish Company (above). Made from scrap cedar, aluminum roofing, leftover hardware and a coat-hook, this sweet little casa would make a suitable home for rural and urban birds alike.
I also love the graphic appeal of this unique house by Garage Inc. (below) Fashioned from reclaimed election campaign signs (below), it is a great use of salvaged materials as well as a subtle reminder that politics can sometimes be “for the birds”.
You can do some of your research on the internet, but it‘s also nice to have a good, portable guidebook about birds to refer to. Bookstores and online booksellers will have many to choose from, but be sure to select one that is relevant to your area. Be prepared to be surprised, too, as you never know who might turn up on a feeder or branch. (Many birding websites have rare bird-sighting “hotlines” for just this reason.)
There are dozens of sites around the web with information on backyard bird watching. Check out A Home for Wild Birds for tips on making your yard a bird-friendly zone and for ideas on how to get the whole family involved.