Meet Your Feathered Neighbors!

Looking for a way to entertain family members stuck at home and already tired of binge-watching television?

Searching for an activity that’s both fun and legitimately educational?

Want to connect with nature without boarding a plane, visiting the zoo, or possibly even going outside?

Have I got the non-virtual, analog game for you!

Think of it as similar to Pokemon Go but there’s no app so you don’t need a smartphone to play.  And the species are real, and really alive.  And you only have to see them, not catch them (please do NOT try to catch wild birds).

It doesn’t matter if your 6 years old, or 60, or 106… who doesn’t love birds? They’re colorful (some of them), easy to see (many of them), and can be challenging to identify (especially the little brown ones). They also add music to our world (depending on your definition of a melody).

Lots of wild birds are perfectly happy having human neighbors, which makes them easy to see and enjoy from your kitchen table, on a walk in the neighborhood, or while visiting a local park.

Plus, wild birds generally insist on keeping a 6′ or more distance so they’re great role models for how to enjoy each other’s company while also keeping a safe and respectful distance.

Ready Player One… or One Hundred

Over the next weeks and possibly months, I’ll create a series of checklists you can use to spot and identify wild birds, beginning with an introduction to some of the most plentiful and easy-to-identify species. Levels 2, 3, 4, and so on will venture beyond the backyard to other nearby landscapes, introduce less common species, and provide hints to trickier IDs over time.

Each checklist will include a picture, a brief description, and a link to a blog post with more pictures and fun facts about each species.

How to Safari:

  1. Download the pdf checklist then look out your windows or sit quietly outside and watch for birds. It’s ok if you want to tip the scale in your favor by setting up a bird feeder or bird bath–that’s not cheating.
  2. Check what you see against the photos and descriptions.
  3. Sure you’ve got the right bird? Check the box next to its name.
  4. When you’ve seen and recorded at least 5 of the 7 birds listed (you’re on your honor here) come back to this page (you may want to bookmark it) and add a comment or “like” below to report your success. If you’ll add your city/state I may be able to create region specific safaris in response to interest.
  5. Once 15 people have filed their report I’ll post the next Level for everyone to download.

You can share the link to this page and/or the pdf document far and wide. The more the merrier (and we can use a little merriment right now).

Click on the Level 1 link below to download the pdf.  More levels to come (but only once enough players have leveled up!)

Level 1 – Backyard Safari

Level 2 – Sidewalk Safari (coming soon)

Level 3 – City Park Safari (coming soon)

Level 4 – Seed-Eaters Safari (coming soon)

Level 5 – Little Brown Bird Safari (coming soon)

And possibly more… let’s see how far we can fly!


Thanks to the following photographers for making their work available through open-access licensing:  Miss*cee, Jen Theodore, USFWS - Pacific Region, Josh Mazgelis, Virginia State Parks, Enoch Lai, Eric Bégin, and Indiana Dunes National Park.