I can’t believe I’m writing this post. Before I started this blog, I had zero interest in birds. In fact, I used to joke that I loved watching wildlife – except when it came to the birds.
It wasn’t until I started actually inviting birds into our backyard and watching them more closely that I became such a huge fan. I love that they’re one aspect of nature we can enjoy wherever we go – and there are always new birds to discover.
My growing love for the birds hasn’t gone unnoticed by my kids. In fact, it’s one of our favorite ways to explore nature. Anyone can do it just about anywhere, anytime, making it a great activity to share with kids.
We’re still beginning bird watchers, but we’ve learned a thing or two worth sharing. Here are a few of our tips for bird watching with kids.
1. Start in your own backyard. Create a bird-friendly backyard so it becomes a place birds will want to visit. We hang bird feeders and have a birdbath (both of which we refill regularly). Consider planting some native, bird-friendly plants, too.
2. Strike up a conversation. We love to “talk” to our backyard birds. To do so, we listen to the sounds they make, then try to mimic them. The kids think this is loads of fun; I love how it makes the birds seem like part of our extended family.
3. Invest in a field guide. Check out a few different guides to birds in your area from your local library to find the one that’s right for you. Then become familiar with birds that frequent your area.
4. Improve the view. Invest in a kid-friendly pair of binoculars to help bring the birds into closer view.
5. Create your own bird book. Keep track of what you see. The Big Explorer’s bird book includes sketches and a few simple facts about the birds we see often. Yours could include where you go, the date, the weather or pictures you take.
6. Explore nearby nature with a guide or a group. Popular birding areas, and even nature centers, often provide free guided tours – some of which are geared toward families. Many even provide viewing gear.
7. Make bird watching fun – and safe. Ask kids to spot the color of the bird’s beaks and feet – both key details in identifying birds. For younger kids, create a bird watching scavenger hunt to turn bird watching into a game. But leave the stale bread at home; feeding it to wild birds is strictly prohibited.
8. Participate in The Great Backyard Bird Count. To participate in The Great Backyard Bird Count, watch and count birds in your yard, a park or even at school. Spend just 15 minutes bird watching with your kids, then report what you see online. The event takes place annually in February.
9. Follow your kids’ lead. Bird watching doesn’t just happen during special outings involving field guides and binoculars. The Little Explorer loves chasing birds at the beach and park (as they fly overhead, mind you!), chatting with them in the backyard and mimicking them at every opportunity. I’m just happy he finds them so much fun!