Bird Behaviorist Bird-Watching Project
Why do birds act the way they do? Take some time to observe bird behavior with this project and find the answers for yourself.
What You'll Need:
- Notebook and pencil
- Bird guide for your area
An easy way to study birds is to set up a feeding station in your yard that's visible from a window (for instructions on how to create a feeding station, see the Bird Cafeteria Bird Feeder).
Set up a comfortable chair in front of the window and be ready to write down what you see. At first you may only see a confusing jumble of activity, with birds flying this way and that. Some will be at a feeder one moment and on the ground the next. They never stop moving. How can you make sense of what you see?
The best way is to pick something out of the action to observe. You might first observe just one bird. Follow it with your eyes and describe what it does. Then, watch one bird feeder. Describe how the birds act when they are on the feeder. Finally, look for one kind of behavior. Count how many times one bird chases another away from food, for instance.
By watching a flock of birds carefully, and noting who chases who, you may be able to determine which birds dominate the flock. You can also watch for any peculiar or interesting behavior. For instance, you may notice Downy woodpeckers work up a tree trunk as they find insects in the bark. Watch how nuthatches and brown creepers go down the tree headfirst to find insects the woodpeckers miss.
Learn how to keep track of your bird observations with a bird journal on the next page.