The Humble Notebook
One piece of backyard birding equipment that is often forgotten is the humble notebook.
If you keep one somewhere near to where you spend the most time viewing your feeders, it will be on hand for members of your family to record what is happening at any time.
It is a good idea to keep the notebook in pretty much the same way that you would keep a diary. Each time you sit down to watch the birds in your yard, start off by first recording the date and time in your notebook along with the weather conditions. You should write down everything you see (and do not see), not just new species or those you rarely see. So for example, record the way fledglings beg for food from their parents or how the birds crack open their sunflower seeds on branches.
You should do little sketches of the things you see and also write down any useful and interesting bits of information you find in your bird guides.
Doing this will encourage you and the other members of your family, especially your children, to closely watch and observe all the activity at your feeders.
This is a great, engaging way to learn about the birds that visit your back yard. Instead of just seeing bird species, you will start to recognize individual birds and the unique ways each species feeds and behaves. You will also gradually learn things such as when to look for migratory birds to start visiting your feeders, when the mating and courtship season begins, and when the first fledglings are likely to appear.
Overall, keeping a detailed notebook of your birdwatching activity is a wonderful way to keep track of your efforts to attract birds, and what you have learned about them while observing them and reading about them.