25 Wildlife Activities You Can Do at Home
While all Connecticut residents “Stay Home, Stay Safe” to help minimize community spread of COVID-19 and children are currently learning from home, it does not mean you have to say inside. This challenging situation provides an opportunity for all of us to get reconnected with nature and the Connecticut outdoors. There are a variety of outdoor and nature education opportunities and resources that individuals and families can take advantage of now and into the future. Plus, you do not necessarily have to travel to a state park as many of these experiences can occur in your neighborhood or backyard. Remember to make sure your new outdoor adventures are safe and enjoyable by practicing social distancing, especially when visiting public spaces. You are encouraged to routinely visit the CT State Parks and Forests and COVID-19 webpage for the latest updates on staying safe. We are all responsible for doing our part to keep ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities safe.
- Start a Bird List for your backyard. Listen and look for birds in your yard. Note their color, size, shape, and sound. Visit The Cornell Lab's All About Birds website for help with identification.
- Build a nest box for birds. Some birds, such as bluebirds, kestrels, and wood ducks, nest in tree holes. Each of these birds live in a different habitat. Use CT DEEP wildlife fact sheets to learn which bird nest box to build depending on your neighborhood habitat.
- Make a bird nest! Gather materials (twigs, grasses, rootlets, moss, mud) and try your hand at building your own bird nest. It may not be easy. Hint: Use a plastic container to use for your nest!
- Do a neighborhood count for ducks and geese. Do not feed waterfowl as ducks and geese should not eat human food, like bread, and feeding ducks and geese can make them more likely to catch a disease.
- Search the sky on windy days for soaring hawks and vultures.
- Start a Bird Life List. Write down the date, location, and names of birds you see anywhere outside for the first time in your life!
- Watch the behavior of birds. How do birds communicate with each other? Look for signs, such as nest building (carrying nesting material), feeding young birds (birds carrying insects), and territory marking (singing). People in Connecticut are currently noting which birds nest in the state and compiling the list for the Connecticut Bird Atlas.
- Plant a garden for birds and pollinators. Use native plants as these provide the best food for wildlife. Look up information on the best plants for butterfly gardens. Be sure to include some milkweed for monarch butterflies.
- Keep a phenology log. Find nature’s “firsts”, such as the first day you see a tulip bloom, a hummingbird, or a monarch butterfly. Visit the Journey North website for more information.
- Start a nature journal. Sketch what you see while sitting quietly outside. Add notes about what you have observed.
- Catch a spider orb web. First, make sure the spider web is not occupied. Then, collect it on a black sheet of construction paper. Use acrylic clear spray to save your web.
- Conduct a butterfly survey in your neighborhood. Write down the name of every butterfly you see! If you don’t know the name, write down information about the butterfly (color, shape, size) and use BugGuide or iNaturalist to help with identification.
- Conduct a Bioblitz in your backyard. Use iNaturalist to help identify everything you see in your yard.
- Listen to wildlife sounds during the evening and try to identify what you are hearing. Keep a tally of the different animals you hear (peepers, owls, coyotes, and more!)
- Create a backyard wildlife plan. Try to attract birds, pollinators, and other wildlife by providing food, water, shelter, and space.
- Find an invasive plant species in your backyard and design a Wanted, Dead, or Alive poster to show others how invasive species affect habitat for wildlife. More information on invasive plants is available from the Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group.
- Conduct an experiment. Find an anthill, put different bait nearby. Predict which food the ant will like. Observe the ant’s behavior.
- Make your own insect net (for examples, go to YouTube) with simple household materials. Go outside and catch some insects!
- Observe the behavior of squirrels and sketch their activity. Do they live in leaf nests or tree holes? What are the squirrels eating? Which trees do squirrels seem to prefer?
- Take a trip around your house and note where you find animal signs, such as old mud dauber wasp nests or insect cocoons. Map these on a drawing of your home habitat.
- Search your neighborhood for different types of tree cavities. Look for and note evidence of wildlife use. Snags with tree holes are important as wildlife habitat!
- Set up a trail cam and view wildlife visiting your backyard.
- Hang a white sheet in your yard at night with a lamp (ultraviolet works best!) lighting it. Then, survey for different kinds of insects that might have been attracted by the light.
- Survey for and count flying bats during evenings. The CT DEEP Wildlife Division has been studying bats by recording night sounds during survey routes. Learn more about this project in Connecticut Wildlife magazine.
- Learn and survey for calling frogs and toads during the evening in your neighborhood. Some amphibians are affected by disease. Research more information on amphibian (and reptile) diseases.
Family-friendly Habitat Projects to Improve Backyard Habitat
With planning, these projects can each be completed in less than 2 hours.
Content last updated on July 7, 2020.