Jan 31, 2018 | Featured in: Watching Backyard Birds, February 2018

Keep a Backyard Journal

A journal is a great way to keep track of the seasons, of arrivals and departures, seed consumption, activity level, all sorts of tidbits that you might find worth remembering in years to come.
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A backyard journal helps you, the watcher, keep track of the bits and pieces of bird information gathered daily. I keep a little three-year diary on the kitchen table. It doesn't even get cleared off for dinner, because we might see something while we’re eating. The years are lined up on each page so that I can see at a glance what was happening on this date last year and the year before. It's a great way to keep track of the seasons, of arrivals and departures, of the bits and pieces.

Getting Started:

  • Get a journal that is easy to use. One with calendar dates on each page works best.
  • Keep a couple of pens clipped to its pages, and keep it open to today’s date.
  • Keep it near the window you most often use, along with your binoculars and field guide.

What to Track:

  • Species arrivals and departures
  • Bird behavior: who, what, where, why?
  • Advent of bird song, courtship, molting into breeding plumage
  • The temperature and weather that day
  • Anything else that grabs your eye


About Julie Zickefoose

Writer and nature artist Julie Zickefoose blogs at juliezickefoose.blogspot.com.

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  • This is a good point. While cleaning mine, I kinda got the impression the cheep cheeps were waiting on me since they started chirping as soon as I brought it outside again. I swear they are so smart. Within five minutes of filling the feeder up, they are there to feast.cheers Cheep cheeps!
    by Kimber timbers, Fri, 20 Jul 2018
  • Hahaha, I love the ending remark "that area will have already been well -fertilized!"I've noticed that there are more cheep cheeps right after I clean the bird feeder compared to how many there are right before it was cleaned...so cheep cheeps do like and appreciate a well maintained feeder and they are worth the effort. : )
    by Kimber timbers, Fri, 20 Jul 2018
  • The storm saying seems true so far. We had as party at our bird feeder right before our last storm... 6 at once but different cheeps cheeps would come and go so there were more than 6 for sure..and squirrels eating with the birds
    by Kimber timbers, Fri, 13 Jul 2018
  • I know and do clean my feeders both for seed and for hummingbird liquid. I have a vase full of different size brushes that are only for this purpose. I have friends however who NEVER clean their feeders or bird baths, and it’s gross! I am ringing this article and will have to give out to the few offenders I know. I can’t imagine looking at such mess and not cleaning it, but not everyone thinks resale. Part of responsible bird watching/loving is to make the time and take the effort to do this.
    by Carol, Tue, 10 Jul 2018
  • Can juniper titmice be found in eastern US? In Sourh Carolina? I swear we saw one!
    by Marnie Lynn Browder, Sun, 10 Jun 2018