Millions of Americans have bird feeders in their backyards, and many of them enjoy the simple pleasure of watching neighborhood birds from their windows. Feeders make it easy to observe and appreciate nature. They can also provide a variety of learning opportunities.
Building a bird feeder can help your child practice the scientific method, explore nature during winter, and learn more about birds. Just try our bird feeder experiment, which shows elementary and middle school students how to construct three bird feeders and test their effectiveness.
Click on the graphic to view the full instructions for our bird feeder craft. Don’t forget to supplement the experiment with the bird-watching tips and resources below.
Bird-Watching Tips for Beginners
While you observe how your bird feeders perform, start to develop your bird-watching skills. When you see a bird, watch it as closely as possible and ask yourself these questions:
- How does it move? What does it look like when it flies?
- What does it eat?
- What are its colors?
- Does it have a call or song?
- What is the bird’s size?
- What is the size and shape of its face, bill, tail, and legs?
After you get a long look at the bird, start recording your observations. Here are some different methods to try:
- Draw a picture.
- Take a photo.
- Record a video.
- Write your observations in a journal.
- Create a graph or Venn diagram comparing it to another bird.
- Track the types of birds you see on Project FeederWatch(opens in a new tab), an online scientific community for bird lovers. It’s an excellent resource to explore if you want to learn more about bird-watching.
Bird Feeding Facts
Did you know…?
- The seeds that attract the widest variety of birds are sunflower seeds(opens in a new tab).
- Popped and unpopped corn shouldn’t be offered to birds because it spoils quickly when exposed to moisture.
- Feeders increase bird safety(opens in a new tab) because more birds are watching for predators. Also, birds that have a supply of food don’t need to store as much fat, so their slimmer bodies allow them to escape predators more easily.
If your student is interested in learning more about birds, check out this list of the 50 official state birds(opens in a new tab). You can also visit the National Audubon Society website, which has “Education(opens in a new tab)” and “Just for Kids!(opens in a new tab)” sections.
Which bird feeder ends up working best? Remember to share your results with us!