Bird watching is increasing in popularity as a family hobby, and something people of all ages can enjoy together! In another blog post, we offered tips on how to identify and attract your neighborhood birds. But, there are more birds out there to find and enjoy! We hope these tips will help you get started bird watching.
Where to Spot Birds
A nature hike in a nearby park, forest, or river area can reveal a variety of new and exciting birds you may have never seen. You can find your local bird watching spots in North America through a quick search online. Once you have a location, use these simple tips to start bird watching with your family.
How to Get Started Birdwatching with Kids
1. Bring Birdwatching Gear
There are a few things every birdwatcher should gather before heading out:
- Binoculars, if available
- Notebook and pencils
- Bird identification book
- Comfortable clothing and shoes
- Water and energy-packed snacks
2. Practice Using Binoculars
Binoculars can take some time for children to get used to holding and looking through, and so can sitting in one spot for a while and staying quiet. Do a few practice bird watching sessions in the yard or local park before heading on a longer day trip.
3. Know When to Go
Timing is important! Venture out at dawn or dusk for the best chance of seeing the most bird activity. If your children are older, have them research local birds and make a list of those they hope to see.
4. Look for Signs
Look for the trails birds leave behind. Nests, cracked eggs, piles of seeds, and bird poop are helpful clues to finding the birds which inhabit the area.
5. Listen for the Birds
Birds can be hard to spot, but easier to hear. Soon your family will start to recognize the more common sounds of local birds and then start guessing which bird song is which, just for fun! Audubon is a great resource to listen to and learn more about specific bird calls.
6. Make it a Game
What about a scavenger hunt or follow the leader? Children love to be given leadership roles and share their knowledge with others. Let them pick a few things for everyone else to find or lead the hike for a while. Bird watching can be a mix of silent observation and fun learning activities!
7. Gather Mementos
Rocks, twigs and leaves can be added to a journal or memory box, but leave bird feathers, eggs, and nests as you found them.* Keep a record of the birds you see or hear in your notebook and add photos later on, if you’re able to capture some.
*FYI: The Migratory Bird Treaty Act makes it illegal to possess the feathers, eggs and nests (even if empty) of migratory birds.*
8. Keep Watching at Home
Now that you have developed a yard that attracts local birds and learned bird watching skills, this is a hobby that can grow at home and build memories on any trip your family takes!
9. Have Fun!
Bird watching is an adventure that can bring a family together as you share God’s beautiful creation—free for us all to enjoy.
In the Birds homeschool science unit from The Good and the Beautiful, families will delve into ornithology, the study of birds. The final lesson includes a Bird Bingo game that is beautiful, fun, and easy for children of all ages to play.
We want you to be able to play it now, though, and start recognizing birds that may be in your area! You can find a free PDF download (with instructions) of the Bird Bingo game below. All you need to play are the pages in this free download and something to mark your spaces with. (We personally think marshmallows are fun, but sunflower seeds are also tasty!)
Nature Reader Birds
SNATCH! A Bird of Prey Game