Birds are so much fun to study and photograph. That’s why I have started a birding journal or scrapbook. In addition to identifying returning migratory birds, I can add pictures of my overwintering avian friends as well. I love to see and record the transition from their winter coats to their spring and summer frocks!
A bird journal will help you to keep track of when your spring visitors arrive. That way you know when to add a favorite food to your bird feeders. That’s how I will attempt to entice bluebirds to nest in one of my bird houses this year. I noted their arrival last year and recorded it in my bird journal, so this year I know just when to offer their favorite treat-mealworms.
I purchased my inexpensive blank journal at the local craft store. They can also be found at office supply and discount stores. It is a 6″ x 6″ mini scrapbook, and the smaller size is just right to carry with me on hikes, or on vacation, or just anywhere I go. There are plenty of pages where I can add photos as well as record the date, time of day, temperature and weather conditions, number of birds spotted, and where. It is customizable in that there is a place for a picture and title on the cover, which is accessible from the inside front of the book. It is also a refillable book, allowing me to purchase and add more pages as I need them.
Don’t fret if you don’t always have a camera handy. Many times I don’t. In that case, I just write down as many details as I can about the bird’s color, size, identity (if I know it), and field markings like wing patches, leg and beak color, etc. I also note if the feathered visitor was foraging on the ground, perched in a tree, eating at the bird feeders, seen in the park, or spotted as it soared over a field, etc.
Since I love feathers and all their colors, I collect them and add them to my mini scrapbook pages. I find what bird shed them by checking out my field guide. The guide helps me to learn a lot more about the birds I have seen. I can record an interesting fact or unusual behavior I have learned in my journal/scrapbook, too.
My other favorite ‘bird thing’ is nests. They come in all sizes and consist of differing materials, depending upon 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’s great fun when I can actually see and identify the birds that occupy a nest.
If it is possible to see what the eggs or nestlings look like without disturbing the nest or its inhabitants, I make a note of what I see in as much detail as possible. Snapping a quick photo is ideal, but only if it causes no stress to the baby birds or the adults caring for them.
Your personal observations can be an important source of enlightenment for anyone who is fortunate enough to open your bird journal at some point in time. It’s a sad fact that over the last 40 years, some of our wonderful songbirds have declined as much as 60%. Your scrapbook will be a legacy to future generations who may never have the chance to see these birds in person.
Birds surround us on a daily basis. Their songs most often are the background music to our days, even though we are sometimes too busy to really hear them. But if you take a little time out of your busy schedule to make room for the wild birds, it will change your whole outlook!