Over the weekend, while running errands in Springville, my husband and I saw a flock of hundreds and hundreds of ducks flying over the houses, most of them landing in a recently plowed field. The numbers of ducks reminded that it is migration season and an ideal time of year to catch glimpses of beautiful birds as they fly to warmer climes.
While January is notorious for being a kind of blah, often depressing month filled with dark skies and frigid temps, there still can be a way to add some lively color to your afternoons and weekends. Try introducing your family to backyard birdwatching this winter! Here are three great ways to enjoy the birds of winter. For more ideas, visit our Winter Activities board on Pinterest.
One of the first steps to backyard birdwatching is to do a little research to discover what birds to watch for in your neighborhood. In Utah you might find a Stellar’s jay, red-winged blackbird, American goldfinch, Canadian goose or red crossbill. There are hundreds of birds native to Utah and those traveling through that you might be able to catch a glimpse of this winter.
Spend a night with your family and start a birdwatching list, print photos of the birds and create a watch list that you can keep near the backyard windows or take with you on weekend birdwatching outings. Once you’ve seen a bird, be sure to snap a photo and document when and where you saw your new feathered friend.
Want to up the odds for some stunning birdwatching experiences out your kitchen window? Make your backyard a tempting rest area by creating a bird cafe with a variety of bird feeding stations. By leaving a variety of bird food options, you’re bound to attract a variety of winged friends. For example, blue jays love sunflower seeds, while orioles love fruit like oranges.
For a great Saturday activity, help the kids create this hanging birdseed wreath that you can hang from the trees. Whisk 1/2-cup warm water withone envelope of gelatin. Add in 3/4 cup flour and 3 tablespoons corn syrup and whisk again. Then add 4 cups of bird seed. Mix together and press into an oiled Bundt pan. Allow to dry out, pop out of the pan and hang the wreath with a ribbon on a tree near your largest picture window.
If you’re looking to get out of the house to enjoy some birdwatching out in the field, there are some great ideas. Not only can you simply go to your favorite park and create your own bird blind or even cozy (safe) treetop perch, there are several great locations throughout the state where birds flock to during the winter months.
Wetlands are naturally a hot bed of birding activity year-round, so when seeking a new spot head out to places locally like Salem Pond, Lincoln Beach, Allred’s Pond in Lehi or take a day trip north to Antelope Island State Park, Farmington Bay Bird Refuge, or the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge west of Brigham City.
— Jennifer Durrant