Introduction: (Initial Observation)
Bird houses and bird feeders add so much to our enjoyment of nature as they draw these little feathered friends into the human environment where they can be observed at close proximity. There are certain responsibilities, however, which come with this privilege, in order to protect the health of our guests.
Birds tend to nest close to where they can find food. So having one or more bird feeders will increase our chance of getting a pair of birds, nest in our bird house. Bird house is not a temporary place for birds and if a pair select a bird house for their living, they will stay all that season. Mother bird will lay eggs and stay in the nest most of the time until the chickens come out of the eggs.
Then she will feed them until they grow and are able to fly. That is when mother bird and her children leave the nest and you can cleanup the bird house and prepare it for the next season and possibly another pair of birds.
Bird house is a good science project because it involves science, art and craft. It is science because you need to know the bird and the factors that affect the birds decision in choosing a nest. A good bird house is designed for a specific type of bird and will be chosen as a nest by that bird. Many of the factors that affect the birds decision in choosing a nest are safety considerations. For example if the opening of the nest is too big, the bird will not consider it safe because she might be attached by larger birds. CLICK HERE to learn more about different birds and design considerations of a bird house.
Additional information about birds and bird-houses can be found on the Internet. Following are some of the web-sites.
Purpose of this project is learning about the birds. How do they live? How do they reproduce? How many eggs do they lay? and what is their favorite food? We may also get chance to learn aboutdifferent types of birds, their names and their differences.
Students in grades 1 to 4 usually do not need to follow a scientific method in their projects; so they will not have to start with a question.If you do have to use a scientific method, then you may choose this question for your investigation.
How does the height of the bird house from the ground affect the attraction of the birds?
What is the best height from the ground for a bird house?
What is the best nest color for birds?
Those who do more advanced research on birds, they may want to know much more details about the birds. For example they may want to know the favorite nesting site, the best nest color, the best nest size and more. Each of these is a variable. For example one may make 10 wooden nest in 10 different colors and also 10 metal nest in 10 different colors and see which type and which color attracts more birds.
Primary level students are not required to do such extensive experiments and will not define any variables.
Based on your gathered information, make an educated guess about what types of things affect the system you are working with. Identifying variables is necessary before you can make a hypothesis.
For example you may have 10 bird houses and mount them in 10 different heights from the ground. Now if you believe that the bird house that is 6 feet above the ground has more chance of being selected as a nest, this can be your hypothesis. So for now, don’t worry about this either. Following are some sample hypothesis:
1. My hypothesis is that the best nest height for birds is 6 feet.
2. My hypothesis is that the best nest color for birds is brown.
Plastic Bird House:
If you like a quick way, click here to see how you can make a simple bird house and a simple bird feeder. A quick way uses empty plastic bottles to make a bird house.
Wooden Bird House:
Although it takes more time and effort, a wooden bird house makes a more convenient nest for the birds. To learn about making a wooden bird house continue here.
The design given here is suggested for the tree swallow but should suit a variety of sparrow sized birds. Place the bird house at least 5 feet above ground level in a sunny, open area.
Start by marking a 4 feet long 3/4 by 5 1/2 inch board as shown. The numbers are lengths in inches. (This is known as 1 x 6, so you need 4 feet 1×6)
The roof can be made from a piece of exterior plywood about 7 by 9 inches. Cutting the back edge at an angle will give a better fit against the back board. Use a hole saw, coping saw or keyhole saw to cut a 1 1/2 inch diameter entrance hole 1 1/8 away from the top edge of the front piece. That size will discourage larger birds that could raid the nest. No perch is necessary.
See the diagram below. Use 6 penny nails when nailing near board ends where the wood splits easily. Larger 8 penny nails at the centers of the pieces’ lengths give more strength. A hinge attaches the roof to the back. That allows easy cleaning with a stiff brush at season’s end so it will be ready the following spring. A brass hinge will not rust solid as soon as a steel one. Drill a 1/4 inch hole at the top and bottom of the back piece so the nest can be hung by two large nails. Finally drill a couple of 1/4 inch holes in the floor for drainage and a couple of holes near the top of each side for ventilation. Leaving the bird house unpainted may make it more appealing to birds looking for a home.
Record your Results:
Make daily observations of the activity around your bird house and record your observations.
- Did any bird try or visit your bird house?
- Did any bird choose your bird house as a nest?
- Did any predator access your bird house?
Materials and Equipment:
List of material can be extracted from the experiment section.
Results of Experiment (Observation):
Experiments are often done in series. A series of experiments can be done by changing one variable a different amount each time. A series of experiments is made up of separate experimental “runs.” During each run you make a measurement of how much the variable affected the system under study. For each run, a different amount of change in the variable is used. This produces a different amount of response in the system. You measure this response, or record data, in a table for this purpose. This is considered “raw data” since it has not been processed or interpreted yet. When raw data gets processed mathematically, for example, it becomes results.
Placement of Bird Houses
For sparrows or finches locate on trees or buildings 10′ – 20′ high.
For woodpeckers or juncos locate birdhouse on tree trunks 12′ – 20′ high.
NOTE: Keep bird feeders and baths as far away from birdhouse as possible, some birds visiting the feeder or bath may be treacherous and attack the nest site.
Mount your birdhouse above leaping range and install a predator barrier. Poles, posts and trees can be fitted with a sleeve of aluminum sheeting that will defy the traction of claws. It must be installed at least five feet from above ground level, you can also install metal pie pans as baffles on the wire to foil dauntless intruders.
If you hang something from a tree wrap the branch with fabric or an inner tube where you attach the wire to the tree to prevent damage to the tree. Make sure the branch is strong enough to support the structure.
Can be of either metal or wood, use pressure treated lumber or cedar, whether square or round. Sink the post at least 18″ into the ground using a post-hole digger, add gravel to the bottom of the hole for wood. Concrete isn’t necessary, but pack the dirt well around the shaft. The top of a metal pipe can be threaded to fit a floor flange attached to the base of your bird structure. Wooden posts can be reinforced with metal “L” brackets or wooden triangular braces at the top.
Care and Cleaning of Bird Houses
Clean out old nest after the brood flies, also disinfect the housing using a mild bleach and water solution.
NOTE: Resist the urge to peek inside at the brood; this will cause them to panic and they may jump out of the nest box. If this does happen, just pick them up and put them back inside. Stuff a rag into the opening until they settle down, this may take up to an hour or so, then remove the rag.
It is just a myth that the mother will abandon the brood due to a human scent.
No calculations is required for this project.
Summary of Results:
Summarize what happened. This can be in the form of a table of processed numerical data, or graphs. It could also be a written statement of what occurred during experiments.
It is from calculations using recorded data that tables and graphs are made. Studying tables and graphs, we can see trends that tell us how different variables cause our observations. Based on these trends, we can draw conclusions about the system under study. These conclusions help us confirm or deny our original hypothesis. Often, mathematical equations can be made from graphs. These equations allow us to predict how a change will affect the system without the need to do additional experiments. Advanced levels of experimental science rely heavily on graphical and mathematical analysis of data. At this level, science becomes even more interesting and powerful.
Using the trends in your experimental data and your experimental observations, try to answer your original questions. Is your hypothesis correct? Now is the time to pull together what happened, and assess the experiments you did.
Related Questions & Answers:
What you have learned may allow you to answer other questions. Many questions are related. Several new questions may have occurred to you while doing experiments. You may now be able to understand or verify things that you discovered when gathering information for the project. Questions lead to more questions, which lead to additional hypothesis that need to be tested.
If you did not observe anything different than what happened with your control, the variable you changed may not affect the system you are investigating. If you did not observe a consistent, reproducible trend in your series of experimental runs there may be experimental errors affecting your results. The first thing to check is how you are making your measurements. Is the measurement method questionable or unreliable? Maybe you are reading a scale incorrectly, or maybe the measuring instrument is working erratically.
If you determine that experimental errors are influencing your results, carefully rethink the design of your experiments. Review each step of the procedure to find sources of potential errors. If possible, have a scientist review the procedure with you. Sometimes the designer of an experiment can miss the obvious.
List of References
I enjoy watching the birds visiting the feeders at my office window. I’ve found a special treat that they love. They are easy to make. You can make one too!
Peanut butter – the cheapest, sugarless that you can find. For every pound of peanut butter you can make 10 pine cone bird feeders!
Popsicle or craft sticks
Cookie sheet or a pie plate to hold the seed
Heavy string, twine or yarn
Wax paper or wax paper bags
What to Do:
Using the craft sticks, apply the peanut butter to the pine cones. Make sure to press it in to all the little nooks and crannies!
Roll the peanut butter-covered pine cones in the pan of bird seed. The bird seed will stick to the peanut butter. Gently shake off the excess seed.
Tie the string or yarn tightly around the base or top of each pine cone.
If you are not going to use all of your pine cone bird feeders at once wrap the extra feeders in wax paper or wax paper sandwich bags.
You can hang your feeders outside your window or in a tree. It won’t take long for the birds to discover the tasty treat. Sit quietly and enjoy all the birds at your feeder. Can you name the different birds that you see? Where I live in British Columbia, Canada the birds which visit most often are the House Finch, the Black-capped Chickadee and the Red-winged Blackbird.