Birding- The Beauty in our Backyard

February 24, 2022

By Pat Loomis, Volunteer Writer

Kids are natural explorers with a keen ability to follow their curiosity. Birding is an awe-inspiring opportunity to tap into that curiosity. Birding can create a lifelong hobby accompanied by new skills such as patience, concentration, observation, exercise, and a connection to our natural world. An introduction to birding with kids is accessible in your own backyard, and once the curiosity kicks in, observations can begin. It can start with a few simple questions- What birds have they seen in the backyard? On walks around the neighborhood, do they hear any unique songs or calls coming from the trees?

With a pair of binoculars around their neck, and a reference book at hand, kids are ready to venture out with an adult into parks and local conservation areas, such as Waikiki Springs Nature Preserve to explore and observe the birds they hear, see, and the signs they leave behind. The beauty of birding is that no matter the season, birds abound. Right now, in February, sparrows, finches, quail, geese, ducks, and various hawks make winter birding enticing for those willing to embrace the crisp air. 

Kids can learn what sets birds apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. The main distinction is that they are the only living animal with feathers. Birds are warm-blooded creatures, which means they maintain their body temperature even on the coldest winter days. As your child‘s interest and understanding grows, educational resources are available to help better identify birds in the field.

From here a bird enthusiast may decide to start journaling and detailing the species observed using descriptors, known as field marks. These field marks may include size and shape of a bird’s beak, the distinct markings and colors of their feathers, and sounds the birds make. Drawing or coloring can capture the birds that stuck out most to kids on the trail, and serve as reminders of the beauty in our backyard. Birding can provide a lifelong learning experience for you and your child. Enjoy!

The Audubon Bird App is an accessible way to learn about birds in our area, hear their songs/calls, and track the birds you identify.

Two kid-friendly websites that are valuable and educational are: Childhood by Nature and Audubon Adventures  
These have great activities and information for kids exploring their natural world.