Getting your kids interested in birdwatching can be educational and a fun way to spend quality time together. Fostering an interest in nature is vital to help safeguard species and encourage environmentally friendly lifestyles for the next generation. Even if you don’t spot a single bird, just being outdoors is great for kids. Fresh air, trees to climb, it’s all there. And it’s FREE. So there’s really no downside to taking your children out for a nature walk with a view to identify some feathered friends.
Children often have a natural curiosity in the world about them so it shouldn’t be too difficult to spark even more interest. A good idea is to be armed with as much knowledge yourself as you can! Kids favourite question is “why?” Closely followed with “how?”. It’s more than likely you won’t know all the answers either but you have google, and books to help you learn the answers together! This is a great opportunity to bond and learn with you child outside of school.
Start off easy
Unfortunately bird watching can be a fruitless exercise on occasion. Children may not stay still and quiet for very long without the reward of spotting a new type of bird. When they are young, easy birds like pigeons, starlings, gulls, and ducks will probably satisfy their curiosity. And they are easy to find in your local park or by the sea. If you are lucky enough to live near a bird sanctuary or nature reserve you might also have a broader range of birdlife in plentiful supply. If you don’t live in the countryside you can still get involved. Even just looking out of your window you will spot a wide variety of birds native to your area. Perched on window ledges, telegraph poles and in trees. You just have to keep your eyes and ears open!
Children also enjoy collecting. Well, adults do too, but children especially are happy to collect random natural objects like shells, stones, sticks, feathers, and eggshells. This can also be a way to encourage an interest in birds and other wildlife. It is important to teach children only to take discarded objects and curiosities. Broken egg shells and long disused nests (do not bring home lice and bugs that may live in old nests. It may be a collection item best kept in the garden shed and not in the house and ideally you leave it where it is so other birds can reuse the resources or the birds may return to use it again). It’s also important to teach children how to interact respectfully with nature. Not to scare off birds or leave litter that can harm them.
You can buy plenty of children’s resources and gifts too to inspire and educate your little ones. For example; install a bird feeder for your garden. Children’s binoculars, and reference books make good presents for budding birdwatchers. There’s also many craft activities that can be done together like colouring in books, or playing bird bingo. The key advice is to keep it fun and lighthearted. Your 5 year old will probably not want to walk for hours in the rain being quiet. Birdwatching and nature walks should be fun! Make sure your children are comfortable and enjoying themselves. As they grow older they will still have an interest and with it more patience for some serious birdwatching.