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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  • Fascinating, how insightful both the humans and cheep cheeps are... Thanks for sharing.
    by Kimber timbers, Fri, 27 Apr 2018
  • #18 in the Gallery is misidentified as a Tree Sparrow, instead of Tree Swallow.
    by Ron, Mon, 23 Apr 2018
  • yep i do the microwave too....they don't break down in our compost so the birds get them!
    by ecumam2, Wed, 18 Apr 2018
  • As you probably know, sunflower seed hulls have a bio-chemical in them, (allelopathic), which keeps any other seeds from sprouting, in the same area. I have used this fact, to a purpose. With a large build up, each year (& yes, it is a bare spot!), I rake up the "bounty" & spread them on areas of bulbs & perennials to keep the annual weeds down. It's also helpful near blue squill bulbs, which drop seeds through the fence that divides a perennial garden, from the lawn , where they are welcome to naturalize. The garden can be over run with them, so sunflower hulls can keep the sprouting down.
    by Plntlady, Tue, 17 Apr 2018
  • I do this in a small garden, near our road, where winter road sand can build up & bury the small, low-growing plants that live there. In spring I just pick up the burlap & shake it back onto the road, before the road crew comes by with the street sweeper, in spring.
    by Plntlady, Tue, 17 Apr 2018