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Bird watching for children – how to get started

By Kirsty / July 16, 2016
nature reserves with kids
sea birds on a cliff

Puffins – one of my favourites!

If you’re looking for a great activity, bird watching for children is a wonderful pastime.  It’s a really accessible hobby, especially with information about birds, their calls and numerous pictures online, and really you don’t need a lot of money to take part.

How to get started with bird watching for children

The best thing to do is to start finding some good websites with information on birds for kids.  My favourite is the RSPB website and they have a whole section dedicated to children about birds for kids.   Although I’m a big proponent of not feeling like I need to know everything so I can tell my kids (I like them to learn to find out stuff themselves too), it’s a good idea for parents to have a rough idea of things you might likely see in a garden or on a local walk, just so you can help create excitement about finding them in a guidebook or similar.

 

Start in your garden

I’d definitely start in your garden if you have one, or if you don’t, a local park.

Sit yourselves by the window and see what comes in and visits for a set amount of time – maybe 30 mins?  Depends on the attention span of your kids.

Write down all the ones you find and if you don’t know what they are, write down a description – look at the beak shape, is it fat or thin, colours, what size is it? – and then you can search in a book or on a website later on.

If you enjoy watching them, then the next logical step is bringing more in.

 

I love attracting garden birds for kids as it’s a perfect, long lasting activity that you can pick up and enjoy when you want.  It helps bring nature easier in reach and also connects us even when it’s raining.  I love watching the birds coming to the table, even on a drizzly day!

If you have handy kids and fancy a bit of a project, why not try and build you own bird table?

 

Go on a trip to a reserve

Going on a  trip to a wildlife reserve is a really good idea to encourage any kids who show an interest in birds.  Depending on where you go you might find a whole heap of different kinds of birds, maybe ducks, geese and other water birds.

nature reserves with kids

Check out if you have any RSPB reserves near you – almost all of the ones we’ve been to have had great hides set up for kids and you can even sometimes borrow binoculars to see birds up close.

 

Read lots

Getting a good bird watching book for kids is essential.  Get one that is age appropriate for you kids, you can get ones aimed at really young children and more serious ones for older kids.  Once you have teens interested then adult books will probably be a good investment.

Consider joining the RSPB as well for regular magazines and updates that kids will enjoy.  They have different levels of magazines for different ages too which I think is great.  Mine adored getting their own mail and a benefit of being a member means free visits to reserves!

 

What equipment do you need for bird watching with kids?

At the very minimum you need an outside space, some patience and your eyes and ears.

Other than that it depends on the interest of you kids.  A bird identification chart for kids like this one could be a great thing to have on the wall next to your bird watching area.  Add in a notepad and pencil for making notes about what you find and you’ve made a great start to birdwatching with kids!

 

Binoculars are a next good thing to buy.  Try some out if you can, before spending a lot, or check out my review of the best binoculars for kids (coming soon).

 

Mostly though, you need a sense of adventure to get out and find them and curiosity!

 

About the author

Kirsty

Kirsty is the mum of two kids and has spent the last 16 years on a quest to get them outside more, enjoying nature and the world around them.

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