Birding is booming and has become a favorite outdoor activity for millions of North Americans. From the casual backyard bird watcher to the expert identifier of rare birds, birders come from all walks of life and many are starting to include their young family members.
Educating the next generation about our feathered friends, and our environment is an important part of our future and gives families a great outdoor interactive activity to take part in. The following will illustrate a few tips and activities parents can use to get their kids our birding and start forming the future of the birding world.
What You Need
This is easy, and most bird watching enthusiasts will already have most items on hand. As we have all learned through our birding journey, education is key. Teaching your children how to identify common birds is a great start, simply by highlighting the unique characteristics of birds you can find close to your home.
Start your youngsters off with a good field guide, full of useful information, and colorful images and illustrations. The visual nature of field guides will appeal greatly to most children and is an easy way to help them learn about bird species in your area if none are currently present (perfect for those cold winter days!).
Don’t think your child is ready for a full-blown field guide? Not to worry, there are a number of children’s birding books that focus more on brightly colored illustrations along with easy to read descriptions.
Get Out There
After a little reading and research in the home, and perhaps some spotting through your windows, it should be time to lace up your kids walking shoes and get them familiar with the environment in which birds live, nesting sites and any feeders you might have on or around your property.
Have your kids help you refill feeders while you educate them on the proper seed (non-GMO preferably!) and the different kinds of birds that visit each feeder, and their migratory habits.
This, however, shouldn’t limit you to strictly bird watching times in the backyard or around your house. Make bird watching a full-time activity in your children’s life. Taking a trip to the grocery store? Keep a look out for birds while in the car, and make a game out of it. The more interactive and fun, the better!
At the end of the day, it isn’t about how many birds you do or don’t see with your kids. It’s all about getting your kids out in the great outdoors, educating them about the organisms that inhabit this earth with us and spending quality with the ones we love.
Get your kids out, and enjoy everything that bird watching has to offer!