For the Birds
Difficulty of Project
Less than $20.00
Care should be taken when using a hammer and nails
Birdseed is available at the local pet store and at some grocery stores; look online or at the library for a resource to identify the local birds
Approximate Time Required to Complete the Project
One hour daily for one week to collect the data; one day to complete the science fair display
To determine which type of birds prefer which type of birdseed
Materials and Equipment
- 4 disposable foil pans
- 4 nails
- 2 x 4 board approximately 3-feet in length
- 4 types of birdseed
- Scale that measures in ounces
- Measuring cup
- Bird identification resource
- Binoculars (optional)
- Spiral notebook
Many people enjoy bird watching as a hobby. One way to observe birds is to set out birdseed to attract the birds. There are many different types of birdseed and many different types of birds. Although birds appear to eat anything available, most birds are very picky about what they eat.
In this project, the preferences of neighborhood birds is observed.
Terms, Concepts, and Questions to Start Background Research
ornithology: the study of birds
Different types of birds prefer different types of foods. Even when hungry, birds are very selective as to what they will eat.
- What types of birds live in the neighborhood?
- What types of bird seed to different types of birds prefer?
- Gather the necessary materials.
- Weigh ¼ of a cup of each type of birdseed. Pour the birdseed directly on the scale or be sure to weigh the empty cup first and subtract the weight of the cup to get an accurate weight of the birdseed only. Record the weights.
- With the help of an adult, build the bird feeder by nailing the foil trays onto the board.
- Pour ¼ cup of each type of birdseed onto its own foil tray.
- Place the board with the trays in a convenient spot outdoors. The chosen spot should be easily accessible to birds and easily observable from a distance.
- Sit with the binoculars, notebook, pencil, and bird identification resource a short distance from the board with trays. Observe the feeding trays for at least 30 minutes noting what types of birds come to the tray and approximately how long they stay. Note if some birds return or if distracters (such as barking dogs or people) interfere with the birds’ feeding.
- After 30 minutes, take the feeding trays back inside and reweigh each of the seeds.
- Record the weights.
- Repeat Steps 6 and 7 for seven days. Record the data.
Project Feeder Watch at www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw/AboutBirdsandFeeding/BirdFoods.htm
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology at www.allaboutbirds.org
A Home for Wild Birds at http://www.a-home-for-wild-birds.com
How to Attract Birds at http://www.howtoattractbirds.com
Warning is hereby given that not all Project Ideas are appropriate for all individuals or in all circumstances. Implementation of any Science Project Idea should be undertaken only in appropriate settings and with appropriate parental or other supervision. Reading and following the safety precautions of all materials used in a project is the sole responsibility of each individual. For further information, consult your state’s handbook of Science Safety.