Become a Backyard Naturalist

By Holly Giles | Florida

Become a Backyard Naturalist

A naturalist is someone who studies living things in their habitat.  Naturalists observes the same thing over time to see how it changes. Backyard naturalists appreciate nature, the life and behavior of plants, animals and other living things.

You and your children can become naturalists by observing the changes in nature in your own backyard. I want to inspire a lifelong appreciation for the natural world and what better way than to start right where you are.

Observation Skills

A child has to learn to love something before it will become part of them. They must experience the joy and repetition of the wondrous excitement of birds, butterflies and other creatures for them to be curious to learn more, want more and grow up discovering more.

Observation skills are a great place to start training in nature study. What do you already have in your year to attract wildlife and what can you add to it.

  • Take a walk around your yard. Observe any signs of wildlife. Lizards, spiders, birds, butterflies and insects can be all on the outside of your house, in the bushes and on the grass.
  • What did you see most?
  • Discuss simple ideas to bring more wildlife to your yard.
  • Observe the same location for several days or a week. Take note of what activity you see. How could you improve the activity?


Simple Ideas

A habitat contains food, water, cover, nesting material, native plants and trees.

Examples: A dead tree offers a cavity for nesting. Leaves, twigs and debris offer nest building material. Can you find any of those things in your yard or neighboring yards?


  1. Download the checklist to help you decide what you need to add to prepare your yard.
  2. Look up any unknown bushes, trees or plants in a regional field guide.
  3. Map your yard with landscape that is helpful to animals and insects.
  4. Make a list of plants you could add to attract more wildlife to your yard.
  5. Create a backyard habitat of your own with the information from the National Wildlife Federation.

Becoming a backyard naturalist is one of the lesson modules in our membership community, The Learning Lifestyle Revival. Head over to our community and see what else we have going on this month.

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