Celebrate National Bird Day, January 5, by bird watching in your own backyard and learning about RGV bird species.

Gather materials:

  • 5 empty pieces of copy paper OR printed Backyard Bird Guide
  • Pencil and eraser
  • Colored pencils

In 2002, Born Free USA, a non-profit focused on wildlife conservation, activism and education, in collaboration with the Avian Welfare Coalition, launched the first annual National Bird Day to promote awareness of birds every January 5th. Many nature and bird lovers observe National Bird Day. You can also celebrate by bird watching in your own backyard!

The Rio Grande Valley of South Texas is a special place because of its large variety of birds species. Over 500 different bird species live in just the five counties of Willacy, Starr, Hidalgo, and Cameron. A species is a group of similar organisms that are able to reproduce. For example, a species of birds that is local to the Rio Grande Valley is the green jay.

The Rio Grande Valley has a subtropical climate. Climate is the overall weather conditions of a place. This is different from weather, which is the daytoday changes in our atmosphere. A subtropical climate is a climate that less rain than a tropical rainforest, yet more rain than a desert. This unique climate allows a large diversity of life to thrive in the Rio Grande Valley.

People watch and observe birds for many reasons. Many scientists keep a count over the years of the birds they have seen for scientific research, others just really enjoy watching them for recreation. By keeping a tally of the birds you see in your backyard, you will engage in observation of the environment around you, and get to know it better, and the communities of birds that live in your area

Backyard Bird Log

Activity Procedure

1) Find a window in your home that looks into your backyard. You may get some birds in a front yard but not as many since most birds do not like the noise from traffic.

2) Divide your paper in 4 parts. You can fold your paper to help you find straight lines.

3) The top-left quarter will be for your sketch of what you see.

4) The top-right quarter will be your notes of what you see.

5) The bottom-left quarter will be where you can research what the bird you saw is, and any other information you can find, including what it eats, a map of its range. You can ask a parent or a teacher, or look online. A great place to look for help identifying birds is https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/search by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

6) Finally, the bottom-right corner will be where you can keep a tally of how many times you’ve see that bird in the future. See the template for an example.

7) Get out a pencil and find a comfortable spot to watch outside your window. Keep coming back to this spot on different days and different times to get a better idea of the birds that visit your backyard.

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