All about Backyard Birdwatching (Day 2 of 21 Days of DIY Summer Camp)

Let's go to the backyard for some backyard birdwatching! Here's the first adventure in the 21 days of DIY Summer Camp series

Welcome to day 2 of DIY Summer Camp at home. On this first week of DIY Summer Camp, we’re going to learn about backyard birds and backyard birdwatching. This makes for some great activities that you can do right in your own backyard. Or, even better, you can send the kids out to do, while you relax.

Who lives in your backyard?

Activity: Birdwatching

The first step for today’s DIY Summer Camp at Home is to go out in the backyard and find out who lives there. So grab yourself some hats, binoculars if you have them, a notebook, and a camera or your phone.

For this activity, everyone should find themselves a comfy spot on the ground, where they can see trees and bushes. You’ll need to stay still to find birds, and that might be challenging for littler ones. Once everyone’s settled in, start listening and looking.

Binoculars help a lot when backyard birdwatching!

Write down descriptions of the birds you see and if you can, take a picture. Note down any colors, unusual markings, and where you saw them. Were they on the ground? or flying around? in the tree or on the roof?

When you’ve seen 5-6 different birds, go inside and compare notes. Look up your descriptions on your computer or phone, or in a field guide if you have one handy. Write down the names of the birds next to your descriptions.

Activity: Create a Field Guide

Now that you’ve found some backyard feathered friends, you can use your information and descriptions to create your own field guide.

Use some blank paper, folded in half, to create either a family guide or for everyone to create their own guide. On one half of the paper, have them draw a picture of what they remember the bird looked like (or from the pictures you took). On the other half, write down the information from your research.

At the top of the half-page, write the common name for the bird. Underneath in smaller letters, write the scientific name. Then write down a description of the bird — you could copy your description from earlier.

From your research, you could include things like average measured sizes or any variations in colors from male to female. Leave room to add more information later in the week.

Snack: Crackers and Cheese

All this birdwatching and drawing has probably made everyone a little hungry, so it’s time to break for a snack. Today we’re eating like birds, so break out the crackers and cheese, with cups of cold water.

Try a variety of crackers, just like you found a variety of birds. Different shapes, sizes and flavors might create a unique snack beyond just crackers. And it’ll finish up any of the leftover boxes you might have lying around in cupboards.

Activity: Robins & Worms Game

They say that early birds get the worms, but in this game, fast birds get the worms. You’ll need at least 2 people to play, and more makes for a more fun game.

Everyone will need a sash or a scarf to tie around their waist, with a long tail out behind them. One person is the “robin”, and they’ll need a pair of tongs for their “beak”. To start, all the worms will gather in a circle around the robin. On “Go!”, the robin tries to catch a worm with his “beak”. The first worm he gets becomes the new robin and takes the “beak” to chase worms now, and the robin becomes another worm to run away from the new robin.

To make it more fair if you have a large range of ages, have bigger kids crawl on the ground when littler ones are the “robin”.

Activity: Make your own Binoculars

Birdwatching is always more fun with binoculars, so let’s make our own. For this craft, you’ll need:

  • toilet paper rolls (2 per child)
  • string
  • construction paper cut into strips
  • packing tape
  • glue
  • stickers
  • hole punch

Here’s how you put your binoculars together:

A List of Possible Birds to Look out For

Here in North America, we have a ton of birds to spot in your backyard birdwatching. Here’s a few of the more popular and common birds.

Northern Cardinal

These are those brilliant red birds you see, especially in the winter. The males are the bright red, and females are brown with red patches on their wings.

Blue Jays

Not only is the name of my favorite baseball team, they are a pretty bird for your backyard. As the name says, they are bright blue, with black bands on the feathers, and white underneath. They are bold, loud birds, and are very intelligent.

House Sparrows

If you’ve ever seen a small, brown bird at parks, playgrounds, or wherever people are, these are sparrows. They are everywhere, and love living near people, because people tend to feed them! They look black from a distance, but they have grey caps and white cheeks up close.

Find a blue jay when you do some backyard birdwatching.
Blue Jay perched on a post eating peanuts.

Mourning Doves

You may not see these birds, but chances are you’ve heard them, especially early in the morning or at twilight. Their calls are often mistaken for owls, in fact! They have pinkish legs, grey feathers and a long thin black bill.

Black-capped Chickadees

Another bird that’s more commonly heard than seen, the black-capped chickadee is famous for it’s namesake song. And also like its name, it has a black-capped head! These birds are small, so you will have to look carefully for them.

European Starling

My kids love watching these birds in flight, because they tend to be in large groups and it’s fascinating to watch them swarm. You’ll see them fly synchronized usually at sunrise or at sunset. From a distance, they’re black, but if you can see one up close, you’ll notice a green-purple tint to their dark feathers.

End of the day: read aloud time.

There’s nothing that settles kids down like storytime at the end of the day. So after all the birds and games today, grab a classic read-aloud and read a chapter every night this week.

Try one of these:

Come back tomorrow for another day full of bird-filled adventures. And don’t forget to subscribe so you get every day of the DIY Summer Camp at Home right in your inbox.

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Let's go to the backyard for some backyard birdwatching! Here's the first adventure in the 21 days of DIY Summer Camp series

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