Tag Archives: Bird Study Merit Badge

4th Annual Bird Study Merit Badge Workshop

Fernald Preserve

First thing is that I’d like to thank all the staff at Fernald Preserve who’s hospitality went above and beyond our expectations in allowing us to once again offer this workshop to the youth leaders in the Tri-state area. I join Phil Burgio in thanking you from the bottom of our hearts.

The weather channel called for off and on rain and thunder showers throughout the day. As with anything Scout related where the outdoors in concerned, you better be ready for rain. Phil and myself prepared ourselves with the lesson plan that was set for the indoors, but what do you do if your outdoor plans get rained out? With 6 hours set aside for the workshop we were pretty sure that there was going to be sometime during that time when it wasn’t raining and then we could get the Scouts outside.

At 9 am we started with 4 fewer Scouts than those that signed up. We usually only have 12 Scouts, and with only 8 today that was kind of nice. We also had 3 parents stay which is always a big plus. After everyone introduced themselves we started into some of the early requirements, like how to take care and properly adjust your binoculars and how birds are useful indicators of the quality of the environment.

Linda, one of the staff at Fernald helping out with some free samples for the Scouts.

With the rain still holding off we loaded everyone up into the 3 cars and made our way down to the lot next to Lodge Pond near the front of the preserve. For this Merit badge the scouts need to identify 20 different species of birds so the idea was to scope out the pond first and pick up any ducks and wading birds before walking the along side the road. The Pine Trees that line both sides of the road are great for passerines as we spotted a good variety of Sparrows and Warblers.

We slowly made our way back towards the Visitor’s Center for some lunch and finish up more indoor requirements. As we drove back we would stop and look at new birds like American Kestrel and Eastern Kingbird. With the sky darkening, we’re lucky as the rain came down in earnest while we had our lunch. This was the time the Scouts worked on bird feeders and identified different birds by their call alone.

Phil had collected old popcorn containers to use as the bird feeders the Scouts would take home with them.

It was during this time that it appeared that the rain was letting up a little
. With only a couple hours left till parents started appearing, we once again made our way outside for more bird watching. It was during this time that we discovered if the Scout was prepared or not. It started to rain lightly and there were a couple of Scouts (who will remain nameless) who looked a little waterlogged. Even though our trip was cut short we were able to pick up even more birds for the days count.

This group of Scouts were very knowledgeable and eager to participate in all activities. Despite the fact that it was cut short a little by the inclement weather the Scouts were well behaved and obedient. It’s groups of Scouts like these that make this workshop worthwhile and a great success year after year.

The bird list might differ from what the Scouts saw. Phil and myself were at Fernald early and we did a little birding before the Scouts showed up.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. American Kestrel
  2. Red-tailed Hawk
  3. Turkey Vulture
  4. Song Sparrow
  5. Field Sparrow
  6. Savannah Sparrow
  7. Grasshopper Sparrow
  8. White-crowned Sparrow
  9. Chipping Sparrow
  10. Killdeer
  11. Great Blue Heron
  12. Green Heron
  13. Canada Goose
  14. Northern Mockingbird
  15. Common Yellowthroat
  16. Palm Warbler
  17. Yellow-throated Warbler
  18. American Robin
  19. Mourning Dove
  20. Carolina Chickadee
  21. European Starling
  22. Brown-headed Cowbird
  23. Common Grackle
  24. Red-winged Blackbird
  25. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  26. American Coot
  27. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  28. American Goldfinch
  29. Eastern Bluebird
  30. Eastern Kingbird
  31. Mallard
  32. Blue-winged Teal
  33. Mute Swan
  34. Wilson’s Snipe
  35. Lesser Yellowleg
  36. Hooded Merganser
  37. Blue Grosbeak
  38. Tree Swallow
  39. Barn Swallow
  40. Northern Rouogh-winged Swallow
  41. Wood Duck
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Bird Study Merit Badge

Tomorrow 12 fortunate Boy Scouts will be participating in the 4th Annual Bird Study Merit Badge Workshop. Fernald Preserve near Ross Ohio will be our gracious host as they offer us access to their fully equipped conference room located in the visitors center. Yours truly and birding buddy, Merit Badge Counselor, & Eagle Scout, Phil Burgio is our second team member. As with all merit badges, this is an opportunity for the Boy Scout to learn some new skills that could lead to a new career, or a lifetime hobby.

Bird Study Merit Badge

4th Annual Bird Study Merit Badge Workshop

After a few phone calls and reapplying of some on-line paperwork, the final date for our workshop has been set. Saturday, April 28th, 2012 at Fernald Preserve. This will be Phil and my second time we’ve held this event at Fernald, with last year being our first time. We were so impressed with the facility and their hospitality that we just had to try and reserve it again this year. And with better communications between ourselves and the local Boy Scout council, we will once again meet our quota of Boy Scouts attending.

All the important information in regards to the workshop is being published in the council newspaper, and with that we’ll start signing boys up as they call either Phil or myself reserving their spots. So stay tuned for more information  as we start the new year.

Bird Study Merit Badge

As most of my readers probably have guessed, this next Bird Book Review isn’t exactly a book per se. It’s more of a pamphlet. And you may ask yourself, why am I bothering with reviewing something like this? Well, let me set you straight about this overlooked, mis-judged, piece of birding literature.

For beginners, at only $4.49, and only being 96 pages, this would be an excellent book for any budding birder. And since we like to plant the seed early in a young persons life, it’s a very straight forward, easy to follow, how to kind of book. But first let me clear up the purpose of the Merit Badge.

The purpose of the Merit Badge system is to encourage scouts to explore areas of interest that might teach them valuable skills. This could lead to a career, or a life long hobby. And as we all know the future of any hobby or area of interest, lies with the youth who are involved right now. But we shouldn’t neglect the young person who hasn’t yet discovered the joy of birding. And this is where a book like this could be of great value.

Enough about that, let’s go over this book. So at 96 pages you might think how can they cover all that’s needed for a beginner. Remember the age group that this book is written for. Youth from 11 to 18 years old.

The first couple of pages go over the actual requirements that the scout has to complete before earning the merit badge. The rest of the book is broken down into short chapters. They are:

  1. Introduction
  2. North America’s Birds
  3. What Makes a Bird a Bird?
  4. How Bird’s Live
  5. Observing Birds
  6. Bird Study and Science
  7. Bird Conservation
  8. Creating a backyard Bird Sanctuary
  9. Bird Study Resources

As you read through the chapter, North America’s Birds, you’re introduced as to how they classify birds by Order using a nice 2 page outline with a color illustration of a familiar bird from that Order. They explain in the chapter where to find birds, as well as give examples of non-native birds.

The chapter on “What Makes a Bird a Bird”, explains in simple text, using color drawings the anatomy of a bird. It also has 2 excellent drawings of a bird and a wing, with all the key parts labeled. Which is useful when they learn about field marks.

“How Birds Live” educates the reader on the food they eat, and their feeding patterns, migration, courtship and nesting patterns. And they offer advise on who to call in case you discover a banded bird.

My favorite chapter, “Observing Birds”, it what I call the meat of the subject. Now we take everything that we learned so far and put in practical use. And now we get to play with toys. Binoculars, and spotting scopes, and field guides. Oh My. From choosing the right pair of binoculars, caring for them and how to use them properly is talked about here. They devote one whole page on “What Do the Numbers Mean”. Any newbie will benefit from this section. And as they leave you pondering your first set of binoculars, they jump into bird identification, field marks, taking good field notes, and determining the different bird calls. And since this is Boy Scout related, proper birding etiquette. This is great stuff.

The book finishes off with the, “How can you make a difference” portion. This is where we want to plant the seed of thought in the youth. By participating in something as simple as the “Great Backyard Bird Count”, to helping with bird banding, these chapters open up the opportunities awaiting someone with the desire to go that one step further. The final chapter is all about creating your own back yard habitat. Choosing the correct feeder and how to build them for different species of birds. Construction of various bird houses and how to maintain them.

As I was re-reading this book, I read the Acknowledgments in the back just to see you helped with this book. I’m not going to name everyone listed, but for all you birding folks out there, I think even the most die-hard will acknowledge the ability of these people.

Scott Wiedensaul ( Eagle Scout): Natural History Writer, Birder, Bird Bander. His book “Living on the Wind” won him a Pulitzer Prize nomination.

Gary M. Stolz Ph.D. ( Eagle Scout):  Refuge Manager for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Affiliate Professor at the University of Idaho as a Ornithologist and Herpetologist.

Julie Zickefoose: Wildlife Illustrator

Bob Gress ( Eagle Scout): Director, Great Plains Nature Center, Wichita, Kansas.

As I conclude this review I truly feel that by opening the eyes of  anyone who might want to be a part of this great past time, that they give this little book a try. How can you go wrong at such a great price. You can find a Scout Shop in almost every part of the country. Or better yet you can order it on-line through www.scoutstuff.org. And look, if it doesn’t work out, you’re not out a lot of money, and then you donate the book to a local troop. That will give you a warm fuzzy feelin’.       Try it, you’ll like it.

Bird Study Merit Badge Requirements

Bird Study Requirements

  1. Explain the need for bird study and why birds are useful indicators of the quality of the environment.
  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 types of wing feathers.
  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.
  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:
    a. Seabird
    b. Plover
    c. Falcon or hawk
    d. Warbler or vireo
    e. Heron or egret
    f. Sparrow
    g. Nonnative bird (introduced to North America from a foreign country since 1800)
  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.
  6. Explain the function of a bird’s song. 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.
  7. Do ONE of the following:
    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.
    b. By using a public library or contacting the National Audubon Society, find the name and location of the Christmas Bird Count nearest your home and obtain the results of a recent count.

    1. Explain what kinds of information are collected during the annual event.
    2. Tell your counselor which species are most common, and explain why these birds are abundant.
    3. Tell your counselor which species are uncommon, and explain why these were present in small numbers. If the number of birds of these species is decreasing, explain why, and what, if anything, could be done to reverse their decline.
  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.
    b. Build a birdbath and put it in an appropriate place.
    c. Build a backyard sanctuary for birds by planting trees and shrubs for food and cover.
The official source for the information shown in this article or section is:
Boy Scout Requirements, 2010 Edition (BSA Supply No. 33216)