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5 tips for birding with kids + the best birding books

Birding is a relatively new hobby in our family.  I’m always trying to think of activities to do with my kids, especially with my oldest.  Any opportunity to learn something new is worth trying out and I was somewhat surprised at how excited Savannah was to start birding.  We are outdoorsy people and I LOVE to hike; it is my favorite cardio.  Birding was a natural fit for our family, but honestly, it is something literally everyone can get into – even if you don’t like to hike!

Ready to start?  Check out my best tips for getting kids to enjoy birding.

  • buy them gear.  You need the right tools to get the job done, so make sure your kid has all of the items they need, starting with a good pair of binoculars.  Order books they can study on the birds local to you.  Have them look through the books before heading out so they are familiar with the birds they might encounter out in the field.  When kids have their own gear (not just borrowing from mom and dad) they tend to invest more time and energy into the hobby.
  • track digitally.  There are a lot of online resources to help you keep track of birds you find.  Try ebird, a real-time online checklist program and NestWatch to learn more about collecting data on nesting birds and record your findings.  Bonus, the data you gather helps scientists know more about the nesting birds local to you!
  • build a birdhouse.  …or buy one. You don’t have to go to a unique location every birding session.  There are plenty of birds right in your backyard, especially when you lure them with tasty seeds!  There are a lot of DIY bird food mixes around, just another craft for your kid to do and a way to teach responsibility without pets!  You can also create a garden that draws birds with berries, seeds and nectar!  This is a project I’m planning on doing with my daughter this spring.  I will blog it!
  • find local events.  Check online for local birding events for kids.  A good place to start is looking at your local wildlife preserves and National Park.  They generally have all kinds of nature events for kids, including birding.
  • fuel them well.  To avoid a mid-watch slump, make sure the kids have a well rounded breakfast and you bring a snack or two with you.  A favorite around our house for a blast of nutrition is Nesquik which in the ready to drink bottles, contains 8 grams of protein, essential vitamins and minerals and an important 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein.  This ratio is important for replenishing exhausted muscles, so it is a fab drink for hiking!

15 books to buy for birding with kids:

  1. Bird Log Kids
  2. National Geographic Kids Bird Guide of North America
  3. Birds, Nests & Eggs (Take Along Guides)
  4. Beginning Birdwatcher’s Book
  5. The Young Birder’s Guide to Birds of North America
  6. Backyard Birds (Field Guides for Young Naturalists)
  7. Peterson Field Guide to Feeder Birds of Eastern North America
  8. National Geographic Backyard Guide to the Birds of North America
  9. The Bird Watching Answer Book: Everything You Need to Know
  10. Good Birders Don’t Wear White: 50 Tips From North America’s Top Birders
  11. 1001 Secrets Every Birder Should Know: Tips and Trivia for the Backyard and Beyond
  12. The Art of Pishing: How to Attract Birds by Mimicking Their Calls
  13. Birding Journal for Kids
  14. Bird Bingo
  15. Sibley Backyard Birding Flashcards: 100 Common Birds of Eastern and Western North America

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