I've been a member of Cornell University's Backyard Feeder Watch survey for about 15 years. I've learned a lot.
The Backyard FeederWatch Survey takes place from November to April and is used to help scientists track broadscale movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance. You choose two consecutive days a week to count and monitor bird populations. You can watch for as little as two hours a day for those days, filling out a form to count how many birds you see at one time in your watch area. Scientists use this data to discover how much farther North that hummers come each year, or to check for house finch disease and West Nile virus that killed off many of my crows and blue jays. The research kit you receive in the mail with your order comes with an identification poster, although by now I have many volumes of different books. You supply the feeders and seeds.
For a mere $18.00 per year to participate, it's not only rewarding, but I find it quite therapeutic. I've used what I've learned about birds to find and document many species as I travel, and I almost always have a binocular or two handy.
The website is a great way to learn more about our colorful backyard friends. It's filled with great photos taken by participants, and there's a blog and a free online bird guide filled with information about birds' lives and habits.
This is a great way to interact with family, and even youngsters will enjoy it with you.