Garden Topics:  Birds & Pets

Kids Learning While Having Fun with Birding 

Kids learning to bird watch - RSSFA recently article stated that when children spend at least 15 minutes once a week with birds, it can enhance both their interest in their local habitat and their ability to think scientifically (making observations and predictions, questioning, reaching conclusions, revising their prediction based on evidence, and sharing results). Here are four easy ways for children to spend 15 minutes with birds:

Bird Watching: Is a great way for beginning birders to start becoming aware of birds and thereby connect to the environment. To watch birds, just gather the basic gear - a notebook, a bird identification guide, and binoculars, and go anywhere outdoors. For even more fun, have kids observe and record what they see in several different habitats and make comparisons. You may want to install the Merlin Bird ID app on your smartphone or tablet and take it with you to help identify any mystery birds you see. If kids observe and record what kind and how many birds they see, they can submit that data into eBird, a global database for birders.

Kids Learning While Watching Birds - Reillys Summer Seat FarmFollow a Bird: After observing various birds informally young birders may begin to choose their favorites. This is a perfect time to invite them to follow a particular bird and observe its behaviors. Observe that one bird closely: what does it look like; how does it sing? What does it do? Does it interact with other birds? Soon, children will be able to identify birds in the field, as you hear, "I know that one! It's my bird!"

Listen to Bird Songs: On bad weather days, listening to bird songs or watching videos from Macaulay Library (go to www.macaulaylibrary.org) are great ways to keep connecting with birds. As you listen to the songs and calls, imagine what messages the bird is conveying to other members of its species. In addition, don't forget to check out Bird Song Hero, which is a new interactive feature of All About Bird Biology (www.biology.allaboutbirds.org), and provides a way to learn about bird songs visually. Check out the Cornell Ornithology Department's For the Birds Identiflyer that is great way to identify the birds and call them in.

Feed Birds: Simply install a few bird feeders and watch the birds show up. To take it further, you are invited to participate in Project Feeder Watch (details on how to join can be found at www.songbirdstation.com) - a winter-long citizen science project which focuses on the birds that visit feeders in North America.

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