Birding With Kids
If you’ve ever looked out your window in awe of the abundance of wildlife right in your own backyard, you might be ready for a new hobby. Birding, which is a pastime shared, according to the Audubon Society, by 47 million people in the US, is a relaxing activity you can do at home. And the best part: birding with kids is great because the kids are never too young to get started. So, keep reading for some great tips on how to discover your new passion together.
Get Your Gear Together
As with any activity, birdwatching requires gear. A few essentials include a pair of binoculars for both you and the kids, a notebook, and, if you have a larger budget, a good camera. Before you buy anything, make a point to check for Amazon discount codes since this is where you will find the best prices on most of your needs. Amazon is a one-stop-shop where you can find everything from kid-sized gear to birdhouses, birdbaths, feeding stations, and much more.
Know Your Local Wildlife
While it’s fun to simply spot birds at random, you can make your hobby more interesting by knowing which birds you are likely to encounter. In addition to your state bird, there will be dozens if not hundreds of other species fluttering around overhead on any given day. If you live near a body of water, you’ll have access to waterfowl and an abundance of non-avian wildlife.
Attract More Birds
This is where the kids can really pitch in and lend a hand. Attracting birds to your property is not that difficult, but it does require a little work. According to Wild Birds Forever, birds look for food, shelter, and water. Many will also scout specifically for certain types of foliage since many birds make their nests in trees, shrubs, and even ground covers.
Have the kids plan and plant a flower garden, and then you can work together to install birdbaths and birdhouses. Another simple and relatively inexpensive project you can tackle on a long weekend is adding a small pond to your bird-viewing area. Start with a quick visit to your local hardware store to see which type of liners they have available; Home Depot and most farm supply retailers have at least one or two options handy. Once you know the size, you can start digging. When your pond is operational, head to the nursery and let the kids pick out a few plants to bring even more birds to your backyard.
Go Through the Motions
One of the most difficult aspects of birding with kids is keeping them still and quiet long enough to get a glimpse of your targeted bird. Do a few “dry runs” to see how long the kids can stay calm without jumping up and down at their first discovery.
Document Your Finds
Just as enjoyable as actually seeing the birds is documenting them. Bird Watcher’s Digest shares tips on how to start your own birding journal and encourages having supplies on hand, such as an ink pad and spray adhesive, for photographs. In the front of your journal, make a list of all the birds you hope to see and mark them off when you do. Even young children can keep their own journal, which will also encourage them to draw and write. As an added bonus, you can keep these as mementos that they will cherish when they become parents themselves.
Birdwatching is a hobby that your entire family can share and enjoy. As you learn the ins and outs of avian exploration, you might just find that you have a greater appreciation for the world around you, starting in your own backyard.
Here’s an article for the gardeners in the community to help them choose and grow plants that attract wildlife and help the planet as well. It was researched and suggested by Megan of the Knox County Central School Districts. Thank you, Megan!
Here’s an additional link sent to me by summer camp counselor, Abigail, and her group of young birding enthusiasts. She said they’d be thrilled to see their link live so here you go! Thank you!
This article was contributed by BirdOculars reader, Colleen Stewart. She writes a blog, PlayDateFitness, where she helps parents (and grandparents) set up activities so parents and children get out of the house, bond and learn the benefits of physical fitness together. All while having fun!