Birding is like a treasure hunt with beautiful prizes. Every time you go outside, you can discover a winged wonder. Of all the animals in nature, birds are the easiest to find and enjoy, perfect for getting kids interested in nature. When kids see an unusual bird or observe its entertaining behavior firsthand, they’ll be thrilled.
Birding as a Family
Backyard bird feeders are a wonderful place to start. As well, neighborhood parks provide endless potential for observing birds, as well as butterflies, dragonflies, frogs, toads, rocks, seed pods and more. Many parks also have wetland areas, and since water birds are often large and conspicuous, ponds are enjoyable for beginning birders.
Birds tend to be most active at the beginning or end of the day, when they are searching for food. When birdwatching with kids, explain the importance of standing very still while looking carefully for movement and listening for calls. Encourage listening for tapping, rustling, scratching, tweets, chirps or other sounds while slowly looking around for the slightest movement or activity. Carefully peer into shrubs and trees — any foliage that might provide cover for a bird — from a safe distance to avoid distressing them or scaring them away.
Keep It Fun
The younger your budding naturalist, the more important it is to be flexible. Rather than focusing solely on birds, encourage exploration and opportunities to discover something in the natural world. Perhaps the glimpse of a small animal—or something as simple as a caterpillar or pretty stone—become a lifelong memory.
For younger children, binoculars may be a bit tricky to master and can be frustrating. To start, skip identification and start off with a bird behavior scavenger hunt without the pressure of pinning down an exact species. Ask kids to watch for specific behaviors, from preening and perching to walking and hopping.
Bird Walks & Nature Trails
Nothing is more inspiring than exploring nature with children. When you’re ready to move beyond your yard, consider visiting local parks and wildlife refuges for endless birdwatching opportunities. Nature trails, woodlands and/or wetlands also provide exciting possibilities for exploring nature and wildlife.
Fun Bird Facts
- Birds have feathers, wings, lay eggs and are warm blooded.
- There are around 10,000 different species of birds worldwide.
- The ostrich is the largest bird in the world. It also lays the largest eggs and has the fastest maximum running speed.
- Scientists believe that birds evolved from theropod dinosaurs.
- Birds have hollow bones which help them fly.
- Some bird species are intelligent enough to create and use tools.
- The chicken is the most common species of bird found in the world.
- Hummingbirds can fly backwards.
- The Bee Hummingbird is the smallest living bird in the world, with a length of just 2 inches.
- Around 20% of bird species migrate long distances every year.
- Homing pigeons are bred to find their way home from long distances away and have been used for thousands of years to carry messages.