Bird Watching & Mindfulness


With many of us still staying safely at home, the month of June presented Forge with the opportunity to find a virtual way to share the joy of our quarterly gardening class by looking at birds and nature. As I continue to find new ways to both live and work from home, I’ve taken to spending more time outdoors, soaking in the sights and sounds of the world around me.

My partner comes from a family of birdwatchers. On one of my first visits to his family home, we sat outside the living room window and watched birds feast on the many bird feeders they have. For over an hour, he and his mother took turns identifying the common birds that flitted about their yard, recalled stories of when they have seen rare ones, and wished for the birds they hoped one day to see in person. Thus, my endeavors into bird watching began.

As a novice bird watcher, I’ve learned that there are people who plan entire trips around going to different parts of the world just to see special birds in person, and then there are people like my partner and his family, who are expert bird watchers from their living rooms. Everywhere we go, we are bird watching: a simple drive or walk in the park often consists of my partner seeing birds in faraway trees that I could never find without his guidance. It is a practice passed down by his family that I’ve just recently learned to appreciate

For him, birdwatching is a way to practice observation and mindfulness. It impacts the way he is aware of and interacts with the world around him. In our family, bird watching encourages attentiveness, learning, and awe. When we see birds we don’t recognize, we take time to learn about them. When we see birds we haven’t seen before, we celebrate them. And when we see our daily birds visit our bird feeders, take time to remember all the creatures that are in this world with us.

As you navigate cancer survivorship or learning the new routines of loving and caring for someone with cancer, I encourage you to take time to practice observing the world around you and start by looking out your window. Below, we’ve included instructions on how to create a homemade bird feeder as a way to begin your own bird watching and mindfulness journey. Once you create your bird feeder, feel free to share a photo on our Facebook page and share your thoughts on this small practice.

How to make a homemade bird feeder:

  1. Gather the following materials: paper towel or toilet paper roll, bird seed, peanut butter, string, scissors, plate, and a knife
  2. Put lots of bird seed on the plate
  3. Coat the entire paper towel or toilet paper roll with peanut butter. Be generous while spreading!
  4. Roll the peanut butter covered paper towel roll in the bird seed. Make sure it is well coated!
  5. Pull the string through the roll. Give yourself enough string to hang the feeder as long as you would like it.
  6. Find a nice tree, stand, or hook outside! Make sure the birds can either land on the feeder or there is a landing spot around the feeder so they can land and feast!
  7. Take a photo and share with us on the Forge facebook page!