To take part in this program, you will need to become
an Idaho Nature Probe member. Membership is free, providing you with
your own password that allows you to access your data, compare it with
similar experiments throughout Idaho, and allows us to keep track of
repeat records from the same location.
Bird feeder location experiment - Location
following information will provide you with the steps for setting up
your bird feeder location experiment.
Predict answer (hypothesize)
is the scientist's best guess as to the answer to a question based
on observation, research, and careful thinking. To make
your hypothesis, you need to remember the birds you have observed
and the background material you have read.
Remember that a hypothesis needs to meet the
It must be a statement.
It must be testable. You must be able to
prove your hypothesis true or false by performing an experiment.
And remember, sometimes the experiment will support
your hypothesis and sometimes it will not. There are no wrong
hypotheses, just added opportunities to learn!
Plan the experiment
Scientists plan experiments to test their hypothesis. It is
important to do the experiment several times to see that the results
remain the same. Scientists organize their experiments in several
steps that are like a recipe. This is a called an experimental
design or procedure. That way, if others repeat the experiment
the results should be the same. You will need to:
List materials needed to complete your experiment.
You will probably need:
At least two identical bird feeders. You can decide
the type you think will work the best. You may decide to
simply scatter the food on the ground.
Note: Nature Probe has feeders for loan to registered
schools upon request, depending upon availability. Contact
Bird food. Check out the list on the
Feeder Background page to
decide which food to use.
A balance or spring scale.
Resealable plastic bags to weigh your seed.
A data sheet to record information.
Determine the locations where the bird feeders
will be placed. You need to choose an area where
the feeder is sheltered and an area where the feeder is in the
open. You may also decide to place a feeder in an area that
is near shrubs or bushes.
Decide what time (or times) of day you will
fill your feeders and how long you will leave the food in the
feeders before collecting it for measuring.
Decide on the variables. Variables may
include the location of the feeder, what time of day you will
fill the feeder, the amount of time the food will be left in the
the type of bird food you use. Because scientists
change only one variable in each experiment, the changeable
variable in this experiment will be the location of the feeders.
The other variables should all remain the same.
Write down the steps of your experiment including
your materials, your procedure and your variables. You may
want to follow these steps:
Place your feeders in locations you have
Using a balance or spring scale, fill each
resealable bag with the same amount of bird seed.
Place measured bird seed in each feeder.
Make sure you fill your feeder at the same time every day.
Leave the bird feed in the feeders for the same
amount of time every day.
After the set amount of time, collect the
leftover seed from each feeder. Make sure to keep the
leftovers from each feeder in a separate bag and label the bag.
Weigh each bag to determine how much of the food
was eaten. (beginning weight - ending weight = amount of
Record your findings.
Fill each bag with the same amount of food and
repeat the experiment.
Collect and record data
data (information) and measure results. They record and chart
their data to support predictions and draw conclusions. A data
sheet might look like this:
(Click to enlarge or download Word file)
Once you have looked at the
data from the experiment, you can draw conclusions. You can ask
yourself questions such as, "What do the results tell me? Did my
experiment support my hypothesis?" These could be as simple as "yes"
the hypothesis was supported, or "no" the hypothesis was not
If your hypothesis was not supported, you need to
think about what might have gone wrong. Maybe your hypothesis
was incorrect and you need to make further observations and conduct
more research (return to Step 1). Or
maybe your experiment design needs some reworking (return to Step
4). Don't be discouraged! The Scientific Method is a
cycle that helps us better understand the world around
Submit results to Idaho Nature Probe You will need
to submit the following data.
School latitude and longitude (if known)
Materials used in your experiment (Type of feeder,
type of food, etc.)
Steps followed (your experiment design)
Number of days the experiment was conducted
Average amount of food consumed at each feeder location
Did your experiment support your hypothesis?
See Results from Other
ESER Program |
Idaho Fish and Game |
Wildlife Conservation Society