By Kelly Royalty, OSU Extension, 4-H Program Assistant, 4-H Youth Development, Clermont County
Image source: https://www.curioushalt.com/10-easy-diy-recycle-crafts-can-home/
As a child, I remember going to “feed the birds,” with my Grandma. She would drive to a parking lot and throw out breadcrumbs and what seemed like hundreds of birds would come flocking around us. To this day, I still have a fear of birds. However, I think her real intent was to immerse us in nature and help us gain an appreciation for being in the moment, doing nothing but watching the birds. At the time, I did not understand the benefits of “feeding the birds.” While I do not recommend my Grandma’s particular method, several studies have shown that feeding our backyard birds can improve our mental health.
According to a study conducted by Cox and Gaston (2016), “the act of maintaining and watching a bird feeder increased self-reported feeling of relaxation, so contributing towards reduced levels of stress.” Stress reduction is not the only benefit of bird watching; it is a great way to recover after virtual meetings or school as it provides an opportunity for quiet reflection and can create a sense of belonging and connectedness to nature. For many birders, bird watching becomes a life-long hobby and even leads to new hobbies such as photography.
Image source: http://mother2motherblog.com/tag/attracting-backyard-birds/
Participate in Ohio 4-H Spring into STEM: Maker Monday by creating your own Upcycled Backyard Perch Birdfeeder (lesson.) Then, sit quietly admiring your work, watching the birds, and observing the sights and sounds around you. Here is an observation sheet if you want to document the birds that visit your feeder. Hopefully, this activity will leave you feeling calmer and refreshed.
If you want to learn more about birds, youth can enroll in their local 4-H program and take the Ohio Birds project. The project book is currently available free of charge as part of our effort to keeps kids engaged while staying at home. You can check with your local park district for bird-watching programs and opportunities.
TAKE ACTION TODAY: Contribute to sharing your observations with eBrid or Project FeederWater, citizen science projects designed to help scientists with the understanding and conservation of birds.
Cox, D. T., & Gaston, K. J. (2016). Urban Bird Feeding: Connecting People with Nature. PloS one, 11(7), e0158717. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0158717
The official Ohio checklist stands at 443 species and a species pair as of March 2021. The checklist follows the nomenclature and taxonomic sequence of the American Ornithologists’ Union Check-List of North and Middle American Birds through the Sixty-first Supplement (July 2020).
Ohio Birds project
Upcycled Backyard Perch Birdfeeder Lesson
Birds of Ohio Field Checklist
Ohio Bird Lists
8 Easy Ways to Identify Backyard Birds
Peer-reviewed Tracy Winters, OSU Extension Education, 4-H Youth Development, Gallia County, and by Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension Educator, Community Development & STEM, Pickaway County.