Save the Birds

As the snow settles and your family gathers  in toasty kitchens around steaming vats of homemade chicken noodle soup and hot chocolate, it is easy to forget about the little creatures roughing it outdoors.

Not all birds fly south for the winter. Non-migratory birds such as cardinals, chickadees, owls, and finches stay put.  Also, some birds do fly south, but south to them  might actually be right outside your window.  Those that do migrate do so because the days get shorter and shorter as winter approaches.  No one knows for sure how they know where to go, but some speculate that it has to do with the stars or sun, that their parents teach them, or that they somehow use the Earth’s magnetic field.

So what can you do to help those little creatures who have decided to stay put or who have landed in your neighborhood?

Stale bread is always welcome, as is that small amount of Cheerios left in the bag that cannot make a full bowl.  Also, when it gets cold out, it’s hard for our flying friends to find fresh water so don’t forget to put out a bowl now and then.

It’s a great idea to turn this all into a science experiment for your children. Here is a site that teaches about migration using song. This site offers information about what birds like to eat.

A kid-friendly activity involves three simple ingredients: pine cones, peanut butter, and seeds. Help your children spread peanut butter on a pine cone, then role the pine cone in seeds. You can use a piece of twine to tie your creation outside, and then all you have to do is wait. The birds will come. If you are feeling especially creative, make an album with your children. Snap pictures of all the birds that feed off your pine cone throughout the winter. Perhaps you could even help your kids write their own blog about winter feeding for birds.

Remember: don’t forget to watch out for other animals that also migrate south for the winter.