Backyard Safari

Have you ever seen a movie about someone on a safari to see animals in Africa or Australia? Wouldn't it be exciting to go on safari? Well you could have your own safari right in your neighborhood. Here's what to do.

Choose a Day for Your Trip

It could be today. It could be next Saturday. Tell your family about your plan to find as many different animals as possible in your own backyard, or your own block, or some other nearby area.

Get Ready

Pack a sandwich and a water bottle so you can keep going as long as you like. Put on comfortable shoes or sneakers. Wear a hat. Make a data sheet to list what you see and maybe even do some drawings. 

If you have any equipment you could use to find animals, bring that along too. Do you have a magnifying glass or binoculars? How about a camera? Do you have a notebook you could use to keep a journal about your safari?

Make the Backyard Safari Promise

I, (here say your own name), promise to do nothing that will harm the animals I find on my safari. I will leave them where they are, without bothering them in any way. I will watch them, try to learn about them, and try to keep a record of what they do. I will take only memories and leave only footprints.

Get Going

Going on safari means being watchful as you go. Go slowly and look around carefully. Here are a few things to try:

Sit down somewhere comfortable and listen for birds. Do you hear any? Can you see where they are? What kind are they? What are they doing? Watch just one for a while, do you think it is taking food to a nest? If it is, stay away from the nest. It is easy to leave clues to where the nest is if you go too close. If you leave clues, a raccoon or other animal might get into the nest and eat the eggs or young birds.

Look on the leaves of bushes and small trees for caterpillars and other insects. What are they doing? Can you see clues to what they have been eating?

Look for ants. Go to our ant page.

Look for earthworms and pill bugs under any rocks and boards. Be sure to put the rocks back the way you found them.

See any cats or dogs? Watch them for a while. What are they doing?

Carefully follow a bee or a butterfly. What does it do? Where does it go? Remember your promise, don't bother it, just watch.

Sometimes animals are hard to find but they leave clues that they have been around. See our Animal Detecting page for more.

Keeping a Record

Write down what you see on your data sheet or in your journal. Make drawings. Write down the time you saw things and what the weather was like. Take pictures if you have a camera. Take mental pictures if you don't. A mental picture is when you look extra carefully at something with the plan to remember what you see. Try it, it really works!

Finishing Up

Well, you did it. You spent the day, or a few hours, on safari! How many different animals did you find? Did you have fun? Did it leave you with any questions about the animals you saw? Maybe you could find answers at the library or on the Internet, or by watching the animals more. Did you keep a record good enough to help you tell others what you saw? Want to do it again? Next time you can make even better plans. The more times you go on safari, the better you will become at observing animals.
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