Set the Stage
When you head into a National Park or a zoo for some nature time, it's easy to know what to look for: Just take a peek at one of the information brochures at the entrance. Few of us have info packets in a pocket next to the back door, so it can be a bit harder to see what there is to see. "There's grass, there's dirt, there's a tree" is not a terribly exciting nature walk.
So you might want to do some research. It's not that hard to find out what your backyard might have to offer. There are handy Web sites that will tell you what's in your area. Some may have a zip code search that lets you know which plant and animal species you could see around your home. Some city-government Web sites will often have similar information, as will local information kiosks.
Once you know what to keep an eye out for, you're ready to plan a backyard nature walk. It can be helpful to give your yard a hand and hang a hummingbird feeder if you find out there are lots of them in your area, or install a birdbath or toss out some wildflower seeds in advance, just to make it extra interesting. (This should keep your trek from being like trip to the zoo's gorilla enclosure right when all the animals are sleeping.)
Another crucial preparation, especially when kids are involved, is to know what interesting stuff not to touch, lest a perfectly lovely nature walk end in tears.