Project: Pop-Up Birder’s Life List

Birds Text 2

Last month we had a visit from some family members who are relatively avid birders. We got around to talking about whether or not they keep an actual life list the way that many birders do, and they said that they didn’t keep a traditional list, but had come up with another option. Instead of a checklist, they print out pages from field guides that show images of birds that they have seen, and then mount them on cardstock or foam board. A little stand gets attached to the back, and then each bird is placed on the windowsill as a part of a kind of pop-up life list display.

We thought that it would be fun to make a pop-up life list of our own, simplified a bit to make it easy for kids to get in on the action. Here’s how:

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bird pop up

Begin by doing some birdwatching! When you spot a bird that is new to you, photocopy or scan and print an image of the bird from the field guide that you used to identify it.  The birds above were found in this great field guide. You can either print onto card stock to begin with, or print onto regular paper and then glue the picture onto some card stock or lightweight cardboard. Cut out the bird.

Next take a strip of cardstock (about 1/2 inch wide by a few inches long works well), and fold it into a triangle shape like in the picture above. You’ll actually be folding it to make three longer sides and one really short one that can overlap an adjacent side and be glued down to securely close the triangle. Glue the triangle to the back of the bird, positioning it so that it will support the bird in an upright position when you set it down on a flat surface.

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Pretty simple, right? And as you see more birds outside your windows or when you are out hiking around in the woods, you can just keep adding to your pop-up family life list!

9 comments… add one

  • Wendy N October 17, 2013, 8:13 am

    Very neat idea! My son would probably love this!

  • Jennifer Fee, BirdSleuth K-12 October 17, 2013, 10:16 am

    Wow, I LOVE this! Thanks so much for sharing… Starting such a “life list” will be on my weekend-projects-for-fun list to do with my daughter. I’ll share it via BirdSleuth, too. (I hope mine turn out half as pretty as yours!)


    • dawn October 20, 2013, 6:38 pm

      Thank you for sharing this with BirdSleuth, Jen!
      Jeffery Domm is an amazing illustrator, so we were happy to use his bird illustrations for this project!

  • Margaret Scaglione October 17, 2013, 11:48 am

    This is a terrific idea, and just in time for me to use with students in Camden, NJ! I’ll be showing this to them tomorrow!

    • dawn October 20, 2013, 6:39 pm

      Great! We would love to see what your students create. Please send photos if you get the chance.

  • Alison October 17, 2013, 2:38 pm

    What a super idea, thanks for sharing.

  • wendy October 17, 2013, 11:12 pm


  • KC October 21, 2013, 1:11 am

    Oh this is fun! I might have to extend this to animals as well. We see so much wildlife living in the open desert. :)

    • dawn October 22, 2013, 10:28 am

      Neat idea, KC! That would be fun. Please share the results if you do animals. We would love to see!

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