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Backyard Bird Watching while Sheltering in Place!

April 3, 2020

How is everyone doing? To be honest, I have good days, that seem like nothing is different. I have blah days where I just want to stare at the wall, and then I have horrible days. Days when I feel like I want to go full-on rage mode. It has certainly been a change in our routine for sure. Trying to work from home, still manage to get work done on our wetlands and rangelands, as well as the nonstop cancelations of trips and trying to get some of that re-booked for an unknown date down the road, and now trying to be a full-time teacher on top of it all is insane! Oh yeah, and the kids’ fair projects are in full swing now too. Which is great, because it keeps them really busy with chores and responsibility, but it also adds more creatures for me to worry about! I don’t think I’ve ever felt so drained while staying at home! I do like the fact that I am permanently wearing workout clothes and have only done my hair and makeup twice in the past 3 weeks! The dogs are loving having us all home too!

How are you all holding up? Luckily, we have been able to sneak out on a few turkey hunting trips and we have been on the river a few times fishing as well. Cade and Quinn each had a Jr. Hunt Weekend to remember, killing two beautiful toms! I feel horrible for all the lake fishermen who are being shut out and turned away from these much-needed outlets of nature therapy. It is really hard for me to understand how it can be ok for hundreds of people to be shopping for “essentials” in Walmart, but our local lakes are being locked down for public use. I truly feel that getting outdoors through all of this, is essential. Even if you are not able to visit your local lake, try to find a hiking trail that is open and take the kids to enjoy the outdoors. 

I have been trying to come up with a few outdoor-related activities to provide for all the kiddos and families in my 4-H Outdoor Rec Project Group. I want them to still feel engaged in 4-H and learning as much as they can! I have asked the kiddos to work on developing their bird watching skills while they are under this “shelter in” directive. I provided all of them with a Backyard Bird BINGO game card that I have challenged them all to try their hardest to completely blackout over the next couple of weeks. The card is full of all kinds of bird species that most will be able to spot in their backyards here in Northern California. Some they may have to look for on a Sunday drive around the back roads, but all are easily found in our area. 

Another great way to keep your kids engaged in the outdoors is to take them for a drive through our local refuges. The Sacramento Wildlife Complex has one of the best auto tour loops ever and I would highly recommend taking the family for a drive out there when you are all getting a tad stir crazy. 

If this is something you all would also like to do with your kids, you can download the game card here. You can also download the Merlin Bird ID App that will help them to identify birds right from a smartphone! Be sure to let me know how you all are doing as you progress through the challenge! This is a great way to teach kids to sit and listen with patience as they observe their surroundings, even in their backyard. It is a great skill to have to be a better hunter as well. Next week I’ll post a few ways the kids can work to attract birds to their backyards if they are struggling to fill their game cards. Until then, hang in there, stay safe (and sane) and I hope you have fun backyard bird watching! 

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