Winter is for the Birds!



Winters in Ohio can be cold. We often think of this as a time where wildlife is in hibernation or has headed south for the colder months. However, winter is a great time to do some bird watching. The type of birds you will see depends on location, but here in Ohio and Northern Kentucky, you’re sure to be able to spot a few different species in your backyard or at your local park. Because there is less foliage this time of year, it can make it easier to spot birds perched in trees and bushes. If you’re hoping to attract birds to your own wintry landscape, you have to provide three things: water, food and shelter.

In the winter months, it can be difficult for birds to find food. If you’d like to put out a bird feeder, be sure to include nuts, cracked corn, and suet. It’s better that you don’t feed birds people food like bread, cake and cookies. Allow berries and other fruits in your yard to fall on the ground and avoid raking leaves, since this is a natural spot of bird food.

Water can be a little trickier, but it’s doable. Even though snow melts into water, it takes a lot of energy for a tiny bird to turn snow into liquid. Bird baths should be shallow and sturdy. Be sure to include rocks and sticks, so birds are not required to stand in cold water while they get a drink. Put the bird baths or containers in a sunny location and check the water often, especially during freezing temperatures.

Finally, if you want to attract birds to your yard and keep them safe, they will need some shelter. You can build a birdhouse or purchase a birdhouse from a bird supply store. Bird houses don’t have to be pretty. Brush piles and evergreen trees make good winter bird homes too.


To learn more bird watching in Ohio, click here.

If you are unable to search for birds in your own community, try this bird cam from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.


For the Love of Bird Conservation

Don’t be discouraged by people who have less vision, passion, tenacity, etc. than you. Face challenges head-on and have the grit not to quit when things get tough.” – Jackie Bray


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Jackie Bray: Associate Director at RAPTOR, Inc & Former trainer at the Cincinnati Zoo

This month’s Featured Girl In Real Life Science is Jackie Bray, who is the Associate Director of RAPTOR, Inc. (Regional Association for the Protection & Treatment of Raptors). RAPTOR, Inc. is a nonprofit organization devoted to the care, rehabilitation, and the return of raptors to their natural homes. When an injured raptor is found, they rescue it safely and take it to an environment where will feel less stress. Once settled, they inspect the animal for illness and injury. Once they know what is wrong, they can work on appropriate medical treatment. Their main mission is to rehabilitate raptors so they are able to be released back into the wild. They also educate the public on the importance of raptors in our environment and on how we need to strive to preserve their natural habitat.

As associate director, it’s Ms. Bray’s job to coordinate these educational programs for the public. She also writes a grants, which are documents used to help an organization get money in order to continue their mission. The position may seem like it’s all behind the scenes, but she still gets to work directly with the raptors as she assists in their training and rehabilitation.

Jackie also works with the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden in their Wings of Wonder bird show and with Kea conservation (you can see a photo of the Kea above with Jackie). She started as a volunteer, completed an educational program through the zoo, was chosen for an internship and was then hired as a paid employee. She is passionate about avian conservation and hopes to continue working toward their protection. To read Jackie’s full interview, click here.

What are you doing in December?


GIRLS University: Neuroscience

Ever wondered what’s actually going on inside your head? Join the Greater Cincinnati Association for Women in Science to learn all about the body’s control center with this fun, hands-on lesson about the brain!

Sunday, Dec. 13 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Museum of Natural History & Science. Ages 8-14, registration required.

Explorer's University Lockup 300

Explorer’s University: I Can’t Believe it’s Not Newtonian! 

It’s a liquid, it’s a solid — it’s a non-Newtonian fluid! Through a variety of experiments, learn about the unique properties that differentiate Newtonian and non-Newtonian fluids.

Sunday, Dec. 6 from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the Museum of Natural History & Science. Ages 9-15. Registration required.


Rocky Mountain Express

Go on a steam train journey through the breathtaking vistas of the Canadian Rockies and experience the adventure of building a nearly impossible transcontinental railway. Recruited to realize this venture—one of the greatest engineering feats of all time—were engineers and laborers from around the world.

Rocky Mountain Express weaves together spectacular OMNIMAX® aerial cinematography, archival photographs and maps, and the potent energy and rhythms of a live steam locomotive to immerse you in this remarkable story from the age of steam. Learn more and purchase tickets here!

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