Birds on the Brain

Bird watchers hoping for a glimpse of a rare and brilliant bird; photo by James L. Stanfield

Winter may not be finished with us yet, but a quick look outside the window will tell you that the birds are on their way back – just in time for National Bird-Feeding Month. Hosted by the National Bird-Feeding Society, National Bird-Feeding Month was created on February 23, 1994, to raise public awareness of wild bird feeding and bird watching. The theme for 2011 is “Most Wanted: America’s Top Ten Backyard Birds.” Here’s the list. There are 13 days left this month — can you check them all off your list by then?

For beginning birders who aren’t sure how to tell a American Goldfinch from a Dark-eyed Junco, there are plenty of websites out there to help you brush up on your identification skills. We’re partial to National Geographic’s Backyard Bird Identifier, which walks you through a questionnaire so you can name the bird you have trained in your binocular sights. Geographic’s Birding page also has news, beautiful old-fashioned bird illustrations from the 1900s, and features an A-to-Z bird guide with pictures and information about dozens of species. For those of you who plan on venturing out into the woods and are searching for something more portable than a laptop, and more water-resistant than an iPad, there are also bird products for sale, including several books by our Jonathan Alderfer, our favorite bird guru.

For younger bird enthusiasts, National Bird-Feeding site also offers resources for teachers, including wild bird food recipes, directions on how to build bird feeders and bird houses, and bird origami.

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