Here’s something fun to do (for adults, kids, and everyone in between) ….. as you kick off a new year, create a journal for keeping track of the birds you see over the course of the year. Whether birding through your backyard, going on a nature walk or coming on one of our bird walks, this can be a fun way to not only keep your bird list for the year but also record other wildlife and nature encounters and fun facts you learn along the way.
Materials you need:
– small notebook
– photos (either your own or cut from a magazine) or stickers or other materials to decorate the front cover
– a Birds of Loudoun checklist
– markers or colored pencils
1) Start by customizing your front cover. There are so many options here. My drawing skills leave a bit to be desired so I glued a photo to the front cover and used a metallic gold pen to write “Birding Journal”.
2) Prepare your Data Pages. Data pages are the pages that you fill in after a nature walk or a birding walk (or sitting inside on a really cold day, watching your feeders) to record all the species you saw. I like to prepare these as I go since I often need more or less pages depending on the excursion. So, I generally start with the first data page to make sure I have the fields written down. Here are the key fields of information that you’ll want to include: Date, Time, Temperature, Weather, Location, Who you were with, # of Species, # of Individuals, and Comments. Below this I leave room to list all the species I saw during that day. It’s also fun to leave room for a photo or other memento that you can glue in as a reminder of the day.
3) Prepare your Species-specific Pages. Species-specific pages are pages that I’m adding this year. I’m leaving room for them in the back of my journal and I plan to use these as summary pages for observations that I’ve made about the bird, such as locations where I saw the bird as well as any special notes for identification.
4) Prepare your Location Pages. Towards the back of the notebook, I’m also leaving a few pages for locations. It’s nice to have a summary of places you visited during the year all at a glance as well as any special information for places that you visit less frequently.
5) Include the full Birds of Loudoun checklist. In the back of your journal (or in the front), tape in a copy of the Birds of Loudoun checklist. You can get printed copies on any of our bird walks or download it through the link provided here. Throughout the year, check off species you’ve seen and then at the end of the year you can see at a glance all the species you encountered.
Here in Loudoun, we have well over 200 species of birds that winter, summer or migrate through. They’re fast as a hummingbird, thin as a rail, silly as a bittern, loud as a flock of big honkin’ geese, quiet as a mouse…oops, wrong species. Anyway, we have a great diversity of birds here in Loudoun of all colors and sizes. Every bird walk we do is an adventure as we never know what mother nature will show us. Keeping a journal is a fun way to keep track of the stories that nature shows us as well as a reminder of our great outdoor explorations.