Bird Study

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Bird Study Merit Badge requirement resources include the Merit Badge Worksheet Adobe Acrobat PDF,
charts, diagrams and great links to birdcalls and lesson videos as well as
links to Merit Badges and Boy Scout Awards.
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Bird Study merit badge
Status: Elective
Created: 1914
Discontinued: no
BSA Advancement ID: 029
Requirements revision: 2006
Latest pamphlet revision: 2008


Bird Study requirements

  1. Explain the need for bird study and why birds are useful indicators of the quality of the environment. Describe how birds are part of the ecosystem.
  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 six types of wing feathers.
  3. Demonstrate that you know how to properly use and care for binoculars, a spotting scope, or a monocular.
    a. Explain what the specification numbers mean on binoculars, a spotting scope, or a monocular.
    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.
    d. Describe when and where each type of viewing device would be most effective.
  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. Describe to your counselor how certain orders of birds are uniquely adapted to a specific habitat. In your description, include characteristics such as the size and shape of the following:
    a. Beak
    b. Body
    c. Leg and foot
    d. Feathers/plumage
  7. 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.
  8. 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, the Internet, 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Do the following:
    a. Explain the differences between extinct, endangered, and threatened.
    b. Identify a bird species that is on the endangered or threatened list. Explain what caused their decline. Discuss with your counselor what can be done to reverse this trend and what can be done to help remove the species from the endangered or threatened list.
  11. Identify three career opportunities connected to the study of birds. Pick one and find out the education, training, and experience required for this profession. Discuss with your counselor if this profession might interest you.

The official source for the information shown in this article or section is:
Scouts BSA Requirements, 2019 Edition (BSA Supply SKU #648914)

View the change list (history) of these requirements. The text of these requirements may be locked. In that case, they can only be edited
by an administrator.
Please note any errors found in the above requirements on this article's Talk Page.


Worksheet A FREE workbook for Bird Study is available here! (PDF or Word) with the maps, charts, links, diagrams, and checklists you need! Or click here to print just the Bird Study requirements. has PDF and Word versions of workbooks for Scouts BSA ranks and merit badges, Cub Scouting ranks and adventures, and STEM Nova awards.

  1. This badge is one of the elective merit badges of the William T. Hornaday Awards for Boy Scouts.
  2. This is a great badge to do in February, in conjunction with the Great Backyard Bird Count.

Requirement resources

1. Birds as indicators of the quality of the environment
2. Bird diagrams - More - BirdSource
3. Lesson Videos: Bird Watching Binoculars & Field Guides - About Bird Watching Binoculars
Binoculars - How to Care for Binoculars - How to Adjust Binoculars
4. & 5. Lesson Videos: Birdwatching for Beginners - Get Started with Bird Watching - Bird Identification
4. & 5. Online bird field guide - Another - How to Use a Field Guide - 72 Range Maps - Cornell Ornithology - American Bird Conservancy
5. The Field Notebook you will need is included in the Bird Study Workbook.
6. Note that you are not required to identify the bird songs in the field, just identify bird songs. But the bird songs you identify MUST be for species that you have included in your field notebook. So if you didn't identify these species by ear in the field, you must have personally observed them in the field.

Lesson Videos: Bird Songs - How to Identify Birds by Ear - How Birds Use Songs & Sounds for Communication - Birds That Say Their Names - Birds That Make Phonetic Sounds & Phrases
Audio: Learn Bird Songs - More - Another site
Other links: American Birding Assn - Audubon Magazine online

7a. Local Clubs - Audubon Society
7b. Christmas Bird Count From the National Audubon Society
8. How to Build a Birdbath, Birdhouse, Garden Bench, or Rockwall for Your Garden

Related awards

Ecology Awards
Ecology-related awards

See also

Scouts BSA portal
Venturing portal
Sea Scout portal
General Merit Badge information

External links

Personal tools