Thanks to the Audubon Society and Earth Easy for the following tips on connecting with nature over the holidays. And, thanks to NWEI Executive Director Mike Mercer who participated in a “citizen science” bird count for his EcoChallenge this year – which inspired me to get on board with the 115th Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count! We hope these simple tips will get you and yours outside and celebrating traditions new and old…
1. Participate in the Annual Christmas Day Bird Count
The 115th Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count will take place Dec 14, 2014 to January 5, 2015. The longest running Citizen Science survey in the world, the Christmas Bird Count provides critical data on population trends. Data from the over 2,300 circles are entered after the count!
Take your binoculars, a field guide to local birds, a small pad or journal for each participant and walk a course through your neighborhood, local park or countryside. Try to identify and count every bird you see, and make a note of it in your journal. Compare the results from former years and you’ll become experts on your local bird population and migration habits. This is a great family activity because even the youngest eyes are just as good at spotting the birds and contributing to the event.
2. Take a Family Nature Walk
Plan your walk before the holiday meal while everyone still has lots of energy. The walk will also pique appetites and provide a shared topic for conversation during mealtime.
3. Do a Nature Restoration Activity
Planting a small tree together symbolizes the value of nature and offsets the ‘taking’ of the Christmas tree (if you happen to partake in that tradition). An hour spent cleaning up or enhancing a natural area also enriches the giver and acknowledges nature as the source of our well-being.
4. Decorate a Tree for the Birds
Place seed bells, suet, pine cones with peanut butter and seed trays on any tree in your yard, preferably a tree in the open where cats can be seen easily by the birds. To attract a wide variety of birds, use varied seed types such as black oil sunflower seed, wild bird mixed seed and nyger seed bells. This is a great activity for kids, and offers an important food source for birds during the winter.