Bird Study Merit Badge Day
Suggested Event Activities


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BIRD STUDY MERIT BADGE EVENT AGENDA

This is a one day agenda with a morning class, followed by an afternoon bird walk, assuming a start time of 9:00 AM. It could also be broken into a series of troop meetings.  Have any Scouts that arrive early study the birds at the feeder and add them to their notebooks per requirement 5.

Requirement 5 is the big one for this Merit Badge. Much of the morning is devoted to teaching the field marks of forty common local species. Some sample species lists will be shown later.
(Requirement 5. Observe and be able to identify at least 20 species of wild birds. Prepare a field notebook, making a separate entry for each species, and record the following information from your field observations and other references.
a. Note the date and time.
b. Note the location and habitat.
c. Describe the bird's main feeding habitat and list two types of food that the bird is likely to eat.
d. Note whether the bird is a migrant or a summer, winter, or year-round resident of your area.)

9:00 - 9:10
Introduction to what Birding is and why birds are useful indicators of the environment.
(Requirement 1. Explain the need for bird study and why birds are useful indicators of the quality of the environment.)

9:10 - 9:30
Begin requirement 5 by teaching the field marks of ten locally common birds. Do ten at a time throughout the morning. Start with the American Robin.

9:30 - 9:50
Students now trace bird and wing sketches from field guide or handout.
(Requirement 2. Show that you are familiar with the terms used to describe birds by sketching or tracing a perched bird and then labeling 15 different parts of the bird. Sketch or trace an extended wing and label six types of wing feathers)

9:50-10:10
Quick verbal quiz on the ten birds previously taught.  Then teach the field marks of ten more locally common birds.

10:10 -10:25
Hands-on Demo of Binoculars
(Requirement 3. Demonstrate that you know how to properly use and care for binoculars.
a. Explain what the specification numbers on the binoculars mean.
b. Show how to adjust the eyepiece and how to focus for proper viewing.
c. Show how to properly care for and clean the lenses.)

10:25- 10:45 
Demo on Families & types of Birds & Use of Field Guides
(Requirement 4. Demonstrate that you know how to use a bird field guide. Show your counselor that you are able to understand a range map by locating in the book and pointing out the wintering range, the breeding range, and/or the year-round range of one species of each of the following types of birds: (These suggested species are  for New Jersey; yours may vary)
a. Seabird - Wilson's Storm Petrel
b. Plover - Killdeer
c. Falcon - American Kestrel
d. Warbler or vireo - Yellow-Rumped Warbler
e. Heron or egret - Great Blue Heron
f. Sparrow - Song Sparrow
g. non-native bird (introduced to North America from a foreign country since 1800) - Starling)

10:50- 11:10
Teach the field marks of ten more locally common birds

11:10 -11:30
As a change of pace, Scouts make bird feeders. Using a pocketknife and scissors, cut the sides out of one-gallon plastic milk jug leaving a two-inch lip around the bottom. Use florist wire to make a hanging loop.
(Requirement 8. Do ONE of the following. For the option you choose, describe what birds you hope to attract, and why.
a. Build a bird feeder and put it in an appropriate place in your yard or another location.)

11:30 - 11:50
Teach the field marks of the last ten locally common birds.

11:50-12:30
Teach the taped calls of Blue Jay, American Crow, Mourning Dove, American Robin, Tufted Titmouse, Black-capped Chickadee, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged blackbird. Substitute other commonly heard birds if these aren't found in your area.
(Requirement 6. Be able to identify five of the 20 species in your field notebook by song or call alone. For each of these five species enter a description of the song or call, and note the behavior of the bird making the sound. Note why you think the bird was making the call or song that you heard.)

12:30- 1:00
Eat lunch while observing birds at the feeder.

1:00-3:45
Lead a walk through natural area. First explain courtesy when birding in a group
(Requirement 7a:
a. Go on a field trip with a local club or with others who are knowledgeable about birds in your area.
1. Keep a list or fill out a checklist of all the birds your group observed during the field trip.
2. Tell your counselor which birds your group saw and why some species were common and some were present in small numbers.
3. Tell your counselor what makes the area you visited good for finding birds. )

3:45-4:00
Closing - Give out directions for future bird walks, sign Merit Badge cards for those who completed, etc.

FUTURE DATE
Field trip with local Audubon Society or NAS Chapter, especially if some Scouts didn't identify twenty species.

The Plainsboro Preserve of NJ Audubon developed a PowerPoint slide show to help with the classroom portion of the day.  If you uses it or modify it for your local birds please credit them.  CAUTION:  It is very large at 47 MB's!

Download LARGE 47MB PowerPoint

Forty Common Birds

Scouting for Birds