For many people, the mere thought of going outdoors to observe and admire birds is enough to fill their hearts with joy. But for others—especially kids—it takes a bit more motivation.
Fortunately, birding can be fun for kids by doing things a little differently and saying the right things. These are some things you can do to make birding more fun for kids and even experienced birders.
Start a bird list
Just like Pokemon cards or baseball cards, collecting things makes games and activities more entertaining for kids. Being able to compare lists, count birds and check off species will turn a relaxing activity into something more hands-on. Even something as small as a yard list will help kids remember the birds they’ve seen and better identify species.
Contribute to citizen science programs
Since taking a widespread census of birds is impossible for just a few scientists, contributing to citizen science programs like the Great Backyard Bird Count or the Christmas Bird Count makes birding even more fun and meaningful to kids. If you let the kids know you’re participating in a science project for real researchers, it gives a stronger purpose to birding than simple pleasure. Doing these could also plant a seed of science in their minds.
Go on nature walks
One of the best aspects about birding—besides the birds, of course—is getting outdoors and seeing nature. While backyard birding offers familiarity, going on walks at local parks or nature center makes birding something new and exciting every week.
Make kids research ways to attract new birds
A great way to make birding a great learning experience is to encourage kids to research how to attract different species to your yard. For example, if there are Evening Grosbeaks in the area, then you should encourage them to research on the Internet or in ID books the types of food or environment they like. This would also help increase their bird list.
Turn the kids onto birding apps
Although letting kids use smartphones and computer devices seems to go against the birding mantra of getting outdoors, birding apps are interesting, intuitive and educational. Using apps as supplemental items for kids will teach them a lot about bird behaviors, documenting sightings and reporting to eBird.