Getting Your Kid Into Bird Watching
How do you start? Observe. We always had a bird feeder in our yard. Our boys walk by our front kitchen window and stop several times a day to watch the birds feed. They are also involved with filling the feeders and cleaning up the mess the birds leave behind. Every time there is a bird at the feeder, our boys let us know.
We taught our oldest how to identify them buy pointing out the type of bird that was currently on the feeder and reading a bird guide. At a very young age, we would flip through our old, beat up copy of Peterson’s Guide to Eastern Birds, and just let him look at the pictures. After a while, he started to memorized each type of bird and was able to identify them in real life.
Benefits of Teaching Your Kids About Birds
Birding may have the reputation of being just for scientists, naturalists or experts; but in our family we have experienced much more than that.
Like most people, we have an interest in the place where we live. I always wanted to know the names of the common animals and birds in my neighborhood. It seemed kind of wierd to know that a deer is a deer, a dog is a dog, but not know the name of the gray and white bird with the pointy head that I saw so often. One day when I was probably eight or nine years old I looked through a field guide and found out that it was called a tufted titmouse.
Birding is an inexpensive hobby that teaches kids about geography, diversity, environmental responsibility, flight, the food chain and much more. You don’t have to set up a feeder to participate. Birds are resilient creatures that live in almost any part of the world. Some skills birding can teach our young ones include:
- Observation -how to find birds in their natural environment
- Listening skills-the ability to identify the different songs the birds sing
- Deduction- how to compare different bird species
- Research skills – how to look for clues to help identify a bird.
- Patience- how to wait and be still for birds to appear.
Why Do You Want to Use Birding in a Homeschool Curriculum?
There are lots of reasons that birding fits into a homeschool program, the first of which is that it teaches the child about the world they see every day. Part of the reason we chose to homeschool was to give our children a foundational understanding of their place in the world, starting with knowing and understanding the world around them.
Our older son, when he was two or three years old, found it just as easy to call a cardinal a cardinal as to call it a bird. More importantly, he understood early on that there are similarities and differences in birds, by learning their names (just as he learned the names of family members and tv shows).
Higher concepts in birding can range however broadly the child’s skills and interests take them. Counting, spelling, writing and reading can be reinforced with young birders. With older students ecology, climate, history, and politics can all be discovered through birding. The best part of the subject is that it provides a platform that gets kids outdoors and involved in a hands-on activity, teaching them observation skills from the beginning.
Free Bird Count Survey Download
For the Backyard Bird Count this coming weekend, we plan to participate. Not only are we going to share the data we collect with the Cornell Ornithology lab, we will use the same data to teaching math concepts like graphing and charting, beginning fractions and averages.
Having real data that our son personally collects gives him a better grasp on the real-world application of the information he collects. For this project we have created a Bird County Survey sheet that is free for download. Use the survey for our own bird count any time of the year. Next week when the survey is complete, we will post our results. Happy Birding!