Children love birds, and who can blame them? There are hundreds of birds native to North America, and many of them are colorful and interesting. Unfortunately, many people don't pay attention to the birds around them. If you want an easy and inexpensive hobby for your children, introduce bird watching to them.
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My husband grew up bird watching with his grandparents, and now he can help our children identify many of the birds that land in our backyard. My grandparents would bird watch each morning, discussing the coming and going as if the birds were part of their daily lives.
Here's how bird watching can become a regular family activity - and one that your kids will look back on fondly:
1. Set Up Bird Feeders
Before you can bird watch, you need bird feeders. You can purchase or build some birdhouses as well. Try some cute bird baths for your garden. Bird feeders are most important though! You want to have several throughout your property to give birds a reason to stop and visit.
Birdseed is cheap when purchased in bulk. Encourage your kids to fill the feeders each morning.
2. Get Books and Flash Cards
There are so many birds, and you will need help identifying them as well. First, get one or two books about the birds native to your area. If you travel, make sure to have a book for the area you will be in to help your kids identify all the birds. You might want to invest in a pair of flash cards as well! I put these cards on binder clips and let the kids take them wherever we go. You also want to purchase your kids each a pair of their own binoculars, so they can examine the birds without getting too close. Consider a coloring book about birds as well. Dover sells an excellent bird coloring book!
3. Make a Scavenger Hunt
Now that your kids have the materials to bird watch, make a scavenger hunt for them. Make a list of several types of birds they need to identify by a set time. The first person to see all of the birds wins!
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4. Make a Seen-It Book
If you start bird watching in the spring as the birds arrive back in your area, you can create a book that details when your child first sees new birds. You can let your child create a list, but it is even better if your child attempts to draw each new bird he sees with the date. This activity can be done each year as birds return. Your child will be quick to notice when he sees a rare bird!
5. Join In
You can't expect your child to enjoy bird watching unless you do so all the time. We look outside and note birds at the bird feeders. If my husband or I notice a new bird, we call all of the kids over to look at it. Kids are quick to join in and enjoy anything that their parents love as well.