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 Winter Birding Activities

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VS Ryan
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PostSubject: Winter Birding Activities   Wed Feb 10, 2010 12:53 am

By JOE LAMP'L, Scripps Howard News Service


Winter presents many opportunities for families to explore nature together. While hiking in the woods is fun, some of you would prefer staying closer to the fireplace. There are many inexpensive indoor nature activities that are fun for kids from 2 to 92, such as reading nature storybooks, making bird-food treats and making a game out of identifying birds.

Bird watching is fun for everyone. You can do it in your own backyard, and it's free. Get a bird-watching guide (from the public library) and see how many different types of birds your kids can identify. Before long, your child will start recognizing individual bird species. I remember when my girls first hollered "Cardinal!" or "Chickadee!" as they looked out the window in excitement.

You can also enjoy a nature book together over a frothy cup of hot cocoa. Picture books about how animals survive the winter are great for younger children. For example, "Footprints in the Snow" by Cynthia Benjamin is geared toward children up to 8. The delightful illustrations and simple text show forest animals' tracks in the snow as they rush to their homes during a winter storm. Themes such as hibernation, eating habits and dwellings serve as great discussion points.

There are many Web sites geared toward wildlife education. For example, the Roger Tory Peterson Institute's Web site has a series of nature lessons. Check out "Cold Duck on Ice" (www.rtpi.org/cold-duck-on-ice-full-read.html), which has great pictures and simple lessons about how birds survive in winter. The site discusses how birds fluff their feathers to stay warm and how they must eat to store energy for cold winter nights.

For those of you who want to know a lot more about feeding birds in winter, see the article "The Winter Banquet" by Stephen Kress of the National Audubon Society (audubonmagazine.org/backyard/backyard0001.html).

Creating bird treats together is an inexpensive endeavor, considering all the pleasure it will bring you, your children and the birds. You can teach your children about caring for other creatures to stimulate discussions of how birds and other wildlife survive in the winter.

Fruit bowls and pine-cone treats are two easy bird snacks that kids love to make:

Fruit Bowls: Cut an orange in half and scoop out (and eat!) the pulp. Poke two or three holes near the top edge and thread through separate pieces of string (kids need help). Tie the strings together at the top. Fill each orange half with peanut butter (or vegetable shortening). Add cranberries and whole peanuts (roasted, unsalted) on top. Loop the feeder around a tree branch. You can also try this with other citrus fruits or coconut shells.

Pine-cone Treats. These treats are a classic. The kids will have fun collecting a variety of pine cones, either on your property or in a park. Tie a string to the top of a pine cone. Spread peanut butter or shortening over the pine cone and roll it in birdseed. Hang from a tree branch.
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PostSubject: Re: Winter Birding Activities   Tue Apr 12, 2011 9:57 am

I like to watch Owls nest in winter on Ustream website there are a lot of cameras....And go out look for owls in woods since its easier to spot them...
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PostSubject: Re: Winter Birding Activities   Tue Apr 12, 2011 1:41 pm

That's true, all of my great horned owl sightings have been in the fall/winter while hunting. I even had one get spooked and fly just a few feet over my head through the trees, which was an exciting experience to say the least.
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