The Benefits of Bird Watching for Kids
Bird watching for kids is a great activity that allows little ones to enjoy the environment while taking time away from screens and schoolwork to revel in the stillness of the world around them. Birding can be done from anywhere—even your own backyard—and there are many ways to build upon the experience and make it a lifelong hobby.
Prepare to Spread Your Wings
You may have grown up bird watching, or you might barely be able to tell the difference between a goose and a duck. Whatever your skill level, you and your kids can discover the hobby together in your region and in the places you travel.
This classic pastime can be appreciated without anything more than your eyes and ears, but a pair of binoculars, a guidebook, a camera, and a sketch pad and pencils can enhance bird watching for kids. It is also a good idea to pack a bag with snacks, water, sunscreen, and first-aid items when venturing out for a birding session at a nature preserve. Be sure to instruct new birders not to interfere with birds or nests.
Birding is one of the best nature activities for kids if you want to teach them to appreciate wildlife big and small. In the spring, robins appear across the Midwest to build nests, lay eggs, and raise hatchlings. Nests can be found everywhere, and it’s fascinating to watch a mama bird care for her young.
Along with encouraging empathy for all living things, bird watching also provides a platform for discussing the larger scope of nature. What does the Cooper’s hawk perched on your power lines eat? Are there enough squirrels and chipmunks for her to feed her chicks? How might the farm fields being bulldozed to build houses affect where she can build her nest? Observing birds in their ecosystem (along with their place in the food chain) reveals how different aspects of nature work together.
Learn Environmental Responsibility
On top of appreciating nature, birding also teaches children about responsibility for the environment. Place a bird feeder or bird bath in your yard so kids can be in charge of keeping their feathered friends well-nourished. This is a good opportunity to discuss birds’ diets and why it is important to leave artificial ingredients—including food coloring—out of bird food. Kids can even make their own seed mixtures or hummingbird food to ensure that local birds have meals that they can rely on.
When birding in a wild space, such as on a hike, kids can learn about native plants and the importance of keeping to designated paths to avoid trampling foliage. This is also an opportunity to talk about the necessity of green space and animal habitats in urban areas.