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Make a fun and easy birding journal

Birds are a lot of fun to study and photograph. That is why I have started a birding journal or scrapbook. In addition to identifying returning migratory birds, I can also add photos of my hibernating avian friends. I love watching and recording the transition from her winter coats to her spring and summer dresses!

A bird journal will help you keep track of the arrival of your spring visitors. That way, you know when to add your favorite food to your bird feeders. This is how I will try to attract bluebirds to nest in one of my birdhouses this year. I noted their arrival last year and wrote it down in my bird journal, so this year I know exactly when to offer their favorite worms.

I bought my inexpensive blank journal at the local craft store. They can also be found in office supply and discount stores. It’s a 6 “x 6” mini scrapbook, and the smaller size is perfect to take with me on hikes, vacations, or anywhere I go. There are many pages where I can add photos, as well as record the date, time of day, temperature and weather conditions, the number of birds sighted and where. It is customizable because there is a place for an image and a title on the cover, which is accessible from inside the front of the book. It is also a refillable book, allowing me to buy and add more pages when I need them.

Don’t worry if you don’t always have a camera on hand. Many times I don’t. In that case, I just jot down as much detail as I can about the bird’s color, size, identity (if I know), and field markings, such as wing patches, leg and beak color, etc. I also note if the feathered visitor was foraging for food on the ground, perched in a tree, eating at bird feeders, seen in the park, or seen while soaring over a field, etc.

Since I love pens and all their colors, I collect them and add them to the pages of my mini scrapbook. I find out which bird threw them out by consulting my field guide. The guide helps me learn a lot more about the birds I have seen. I can also record an interesting fact or unusual behavior that I have learned in my journal / scrapbook.

My other favorite ‘bird thing’ is nests. They come in all sizes and consist of different materials, depending on the bird that built them. So if I come across an old nest, I take a photo and describe the materials that were used. It is a lot of fun when I can see and identify the birds that occupy a nest.

If it is possible to see what the eggs or chicks look like without disturbing the nest or its inhabitants, I take note of what I see in as much detail as possible. Taking a quick photo is ideal, but only if it doesn’t cause stress for the little birds or the adults who care for them.

Your personal observations can be an important source of enlightenment for anyone lucky enough to open their bird journal at some point. It is a sad fact that in the last 40 years, some of our wonderful songbirds have declined by as much as 60%. Your scrapbook will be a legacy for future generations who may never have the opportunity to see these birds in person.

Birds surround us daily. Their songs are often the background music of our day, although sometimes we are too busy to really listen to them. But if you take a little time out of your busy schedule to make room for wild birds, your whole perspective will change!

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