We started backyard birdwatching last year about this time, when my boys received some bird feeders and supplies as a gift. I was taken by how excited they got at each bird that appeared at our window feeder. And by how quickly they learned the names of our backyard feathered friends. Bird watching (and feeding) is one of the easiest ways to connect kids to nature! Birds are literally everywhere, in every neighborhood! So I’ve put together this birdwatching for kids resource guide (but the truth is, all you need are birds!).
Bird Watching for Kids – Resource Guide
The right bird feeder (and bird food) for the job
A traditional hanging feeder is great for starters. Hanging a feeder on a pole keeps it away from the squirrels, and the smaller perches allow the small birds a fighting chance at the food.
A tray feeder, however, will provide a bigger base for larger birds like cardinals and mourning doves to rest and feed. This means they’ll stay on the feeder longer instead of “swoop and grab” like they do on hanging feeders. Now your kids will be able to observe the birds shape, beak, feathers, and colors at a more comfortable speed!
A peanut butter feeder is interesting because it allows you to offer your backyard birds a different type of food. Wild Birds Unlimited has an exclusive Bark Butter made with suet and other high-fat, nutritious foods for winter birds. Scrap some of this bark butter into the holes on the peanut butter feeder and watch them go for it! Or, smear some right onto tree bark for a fun way to feed birds! (Squirrels are attracted to the Bark Butter though, so just FYI).
Of course, winter birds needs lots of fat to sustain themselves in the cold, so a suet feeder on your property is helpful.
Get the right kind of bird food
You might think you’re getting a deal by grabbing a bag of bird food at the grocery store. But what are you really paying for!? Much of the bird food sold in mainstream stores is filled with filler seeds birds will not eat. You think birds are super hungry when they’re rooting around in your feeder tossing back beakfuls of seeds? Nope – they’re doing exactly what you and I do in a mixed nuts container – tossing aside the stuff we don’t like to get the cashews (you know it!). Up to 73% of chain store seeds are just filler, meaning you just paid for 27% of a bag. Not to mention, those seeds the birds toss to the ground 1) attract squirrels and 2) start to sprout in your lawn. Ew.
That’s why Wild Birds Unlimited makes regionally formulated bird seed mix that is 100% seeds birds will eat. They even make a no-mess seed mix, which has no shells. So now you have no weeds, no squirrels, and no piles of leftover shells. Perfect!
Get a good look with binoculars
Once you have attracted more birds to your backyard with your amazing bird feeders, hand your kids a pair of binoculars. Invest in a good pair sized for your kids so they can truly experience the wonder of birding!
Think Peak Toys children’s binoculars are up to the task. These high-quality compact binoculars give 8x magnification. They are foldable to match and grow with your child’s eye-to-eye distance, making them comfortable to use.
The double breakaway strap makes them safer for kids, and they come with a carry case that has a belt loop so kids won’t accidentally leave them behind!
With shock-proof rubber coating that absorbs impacts, you don’t have to worry about kids dropping these binoculars either. And best of all, they have 8x magnification that gives a crisp image for great impact when kids are using these for bird watching.
Think Peak Toys is a small family business, and they care so much about quality that they offer a lifetime replacement warranty on their binoculars! Visit ThinkPeakToys.com to sign up for a free family camping ebook. Purchase Think Peak Toys binoculars on Amazon or in Colorado Wild Birds Unlimited stores!
Learn about birds with games!
Bird watching becomes more fun when kids recognize and can name the birds they see. Make bird watching and identification FUN with these games and resources:
Bird Bingo – A fun game that teaches kids to identify sixty-four species of birds from around the world. The colorful cards are gorgeously illustrated and fun to look at while you play. Meanwhile, each time a bird is pulled, kids have to find it on their chart AND find it on the large tracking board.
Bird Matching – The same beautiful illustrations, and a fun game anyone can play. But with a twist! Match male / female pairs of twenty-five bird species! So kids get a lot of experience noticing differences between the two birds that are a match.
Lord of the Wings – This trump card game is easy, fast, and fun! Along the way, kids get introduced to various bird features like wingspan, life span, rarity, and clutch size, to name a few. They’ll get to compare bird types and see who’s the true Lord of the Wings!
These bird games are from Laurence King publishers, and each of them is printed on extra thick, creamy chipboard or card stock for long-lasting fun!
Participate in Bird Counts
Counting Birds is a lovely book by Heidi E. Y. Stemple (fun fact, she’s the child in a favorite book of ours – Owl Moon!). Stemple tells the story of Frank Chapman who initiated the first Bird Count over a hundred years ago to stop the hunting of birds on Christmas Day, and instead work to conserve the bird population. The Audubon Christmas Bird Count continues to this day. Find this book at Quarto Group publishers.
Kids (and anyone) can participate in bird counts. The Great Backyard Birdcount, (GBBC) begun in 1998, is a great choice for beginning bird watchers because you can count all day or just for fifteen minutes. Keep track of the number and types of birds you see, then report them online. The reports from around the world give scientists valuable information about bird species and how to best help the bird population. This year’s bird count event is THIS WEEKEND – February 15-18!
Bird watching for kids – more resources
Tanglewood Hollow North American bird identification cards give details about 12 common backyard birds. The laminated cards are handy for study, copywork, drawing, and bird identification purposes. My boys love to read the bird facts on each card; I keep them in a bin by the window so we can refer to them in our bird watching!
Make a nesting bag for birds! As winter thaws to spring, migrating birds will reappear and begin nesting. Especially in places where snow might cover the ground, you can help birds build nests by providing some materials. Check out our tutorial for how to make a nesting bag for birds!
What’s your favorite bird watching for kids resource?
This post is sponsored by Wild Birds Unlimited of Avon and Watertown. Also by Think Peak Toys, Laurence King, and Quarto Group. All opinions are my own.