Since you’ve got that feeder out your window, there is no reason that your students can’t participate in meaningful scientific research! Everyone who has a bird feeder should know about this:
(*disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with these folks, I just think this is one of the best examples of incorporating the public into meaningful science.*)
Do you want your students to be part of a greater scientific community (this one is led by Cornell University Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada!)? Learn to collect usable data? Then Project FeederWatch may be for you! They collect data from everywhere, and compile it into an amazing online database. Check it out. I bet you’ll be glad you know more about it.
And check out the stuff that comes in the New Participant’s Kit. Great posters for identifying birds. Love ’em! There are also FREE mini versions of the posters. If you click the links, there are more pages than they have previewed on the site. And FREE info on feeding birds.
Perhaps one of the most ironic natural history slash science organizations. John James Audubon was an artist-naturalist who became famous for his book, Birds of America. This is the sort of book that people buy for crazy high prices and cut the plates out as art. And they are amazing works of art.
This is amazing art! Look at this detail! He must have spent forever sitting in those places just painting birds, right? No. He had a crew of guys who would go out, hunt a couple dozen birds (hey, this was the Victorian Era) and they would take them back to their studio. In the studio, the birds were meticulously measured to make the illustrations as accurate as possible, posed, then drawn up for the folio. (The original elephant folio, by the way, is named so because of its size – nearly 40 by 29 inches!)
Audubon was brilliant for bringing an awareness for the diversity of birds in the US to a new and unprecedented level, but that’s a serious amount of irony that a man who hunted down so many birds is the namesake of one of the most widely known organizations for bird conservation.
Become a member of the National Audubon society, and you will get free access to many Audubon Centers nationwide. They have their own bird feeder information.