Fun Activities with the Children: Bird Watching
Bird Watching for Kids
Make Bird Watching a Fun Kids Activity
If you're stuck for fun and free things to do with the children this season, give some thought to introducing them to the delights of bird watching! As well as it being good for the soul to commune with nature once in a while, it's also a great way to spend quality time with your children and gain fresh air and exercise at the same time! The exercise aspect can be as demanding (or not) as you wish – a robust nature ramble whilst looking for sightings of local bird life, or setting up a base-camp or 'hide' and having a gentle bird-watching themed picnic.
Spotting Wild Birds
Can Your Kids be Quiet and Still?
Bird watching is good practice of several disciplines for children, as it requires a level of watching and listening, whilst being relatively quiet and still.
The level required does depend on how disciplined you are being about this, the nature and type of creatures around you and, of course, whether you are visiting a nature reserve where you are watching alongside other birding enthusiasts.
Sitting quietly for a few minutes and listening out for birdsong is an easy pastime and a good introduction for children of the discipline of paying attention. Having tuned into the songs, it's also fun to try to tape them or to make the sound of the birdsong part of your bird identification process.
Birding for Kids
Nest Full of Baby Birds
Look Out for Birds Nests
Looking out for birds nests if you are on a ramble is also a fun aspect. This is particularly easy to do in the fall or early spring when the trees are not in full leaf. You can make a competition out of who spots each birds nest first, and use the size, shape and detail of the nest to introduce ideas of attention to detail, then using such information to help with research by using what they spot about the nest to help identify the birds.
A Kid's Guide to Birding
Expensive Equipment Not Necessary
You do not have to invest in a lot of expensive equipment in order to introduce ornithology to your children. Setting up a small bird house in your yard or garden can be a gentle start. If this captures their interest, you could then obtain age-appropriate bird books from the library to help your children to start to identify the birds who visit.
Once you find that your children are getting into the idea of ornithology as a hobby, it might then be a good time to invest in a pair of binoculars, to help your children to get the most from their observations without having the frustration of trying to get closer to see and scaring the birds away!
As binoculars can be inexpensive to purchase, it's really not worth investing in an expensive pair until you are sure that your children are likely to stick with the hobby or are able to use the binoculars sensibly and carefully. A cheaper pair is fun for smaller children because it appeals to their sense of 'dressing up' for the purpose.
Good, Cheap Binoculars for Kids
Take Plenty of Photographs
A day trip exploring nature and looking for wild birds is a fun and educational activity for you to spend time with your kids during the long summer vacation.
Don't forget to take your camera with you as this will help to encourage your children to keep a record or journal of their bird watching – the children will love recognizing the birds from the photographs and even the smallest child can make drawings of the birds they have seen, or you could create a family scrapbook page together to record your bird watching days.
Either way, this extends the entertainment value of the project long after you return home!
Attracting Wild Birds Into Your Garden
Especially for younger kids, bird watching will be much easier if they can do this activity right in your own backyard!
There is nothing more relaxing than watching wild birds flying into your garden and enjoying a good feed. The question is - how to attract wild birds into your backyard every day?
Wild birds are like us, they all have their likes and dislikes when it comes to feeding. So to attract as many species as possible it is necessary to know what their likes and dislikes are.
There are hundreds of different species, categories and sub categories. Whether they are showing off beautiful plumage or are just ordinary little feathered creatures busily twittering and chirping and going about their everyday lives, they are all equally fascinating to watch.
The morning ‘dawn chorus’ is a choir of the most amazingly diverse sounds. Listen carefully and you will soon be able to identify each of your little feathered friends from their voices.
Tips for Getting Wild Birds in Your Backyard
A Bit About Bird Feeders and Bird Tables
How to attract these fantastic visitors to your garden and back yard? First you will need to provide a place for them to feed. Make sure it is situated away from marauding cats and other predators. It is so sad to see a pathetic pile of feathers or find a little feathered body deposited on your doorstep.
It is very necessary to have both bird feeders and bird tables in your garden, as some birds like to feed high up off the ground, some like to be out in the open on a table, while others like to snuffle around on the grass or yard surface.
It is really, really very important to make sure that there is a constant supply of fresh clean water. Birds cannot live without water, so keep an eye on the containers, top them up regularly and during the winter make sure the water hasn’t frozen over. An outdoor fountain or water feature is a perfect enhancement to your backyard and back garden and the wild birds will love you for it.
Always make sure that you clean and freshen up your feeding implements on a regular basis. Stale food and droppings will horde disease and birds are prone to illness and viruses.
Choosing the equipment to feed the birds is fun. Bird feeders are small items of garden furniture which can be plain wooden structures or ornate metal works of art. The containers for seed are many and varied.
Tiny seeds such as nyjer thistle seed, which is a favourite of the finch family, need to be in closed containers with small feeding holes and delicate perches. Peanuts, which most birds (and squirrels) enjoy, will need to be in mesh wire containers. You will soon get to know which birds like which food. If you don’t like the squirrels stealing the food which is intended for the birds, then there are squirrel proof feeders available.
Putting out suet based fat balls and cakes for the birds, will keep their energy levels up especially during the cold winter months.
If you don’t mind squirrels in your garden you will have endless amusement seeing them steal the suet balls and run off with their loot!!! Squirrel antics are such fun to observe!
To attract all species of birds to your garden or backyard, you are best purchasing a good wild bird food mix. These mixes are specially blended to attract as many wild birds into your backyard as possible. Enjoy!!
6 Year Old Bird Watcher in Atlanta
Kids DVD on Identifying Backyard Birds
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