Feeding garden birds is a great activity to encourage with kids and something that I heartily recommend to people who want to build a lasting relationship between their children and nature. It’s something that can be done year round and can be enjoyed even on the coldest and rainiest of days when you absolutely don’t want to go outside.
Here’s some thoughts about setting up an area to feed the birds:
- encourage the kids to think about where would be best, safe and easiest for you to have your bird feeding area.
- Make sure that it’s not close to where cats may be able to get to them
- Don’t feel like you need to go out and buy a whole lot of things – you can start by hanging home made feeders from a tree or even scattering food on the ground.
- Decide on a routine – when will you feed the birds? Will you need to clean up? Important if you have a bird table to periodically clean it.
What to feed birds:
Do get seeds and nuts that are specifically for birds – they aren’t overly expensive and you can be sure that you’re helping out in a good way and not hurting them.
Don’t feed cooked porridge or old fats that have been used for cooking.
Do utilise your scraps that are suitable for birds – bread is good alongside other foods. Check here for some ideas on scraps that are safe for garden birds. Bonus points is that it’s less that goes to landfill.
Do have a variety of foods – seeds, nuts, scraps, mealworms and fat balls are all great and will attract a variety of species to the garden
Tips for getting kids excited about it:
Kids love to get involved, especially in messy activities. A great idea is to make fat balls that are filled with goodness for the birds. You can see more about this here.
Have some easy to access bird books. Suitable ones depend on how old your kids are but really if you’re all new to identifying birds then something for young kids is going to be fine for all the family and not feel too inaccessible. I like ones from the RSPB like below (click the image for info on buying it):
Another thing I love to do is record all of our sightings. So grab an old journal or notepad and dedicate it to writing down all that you see each day. A whiteboard could also work if you have a space for one. Perhaps you’ll find that you have a friendly Robin that visits every day?
If you’re handy and your kids like to build things then a nice project could be building a bird table rather than ever buying one. All sorts of ways that kids can be involved with this from the planning and designing, buying the materials and then getting down to building.
Have you ever built a bird table in your garden? How did it go? I remember doing this myself as a child (with no outside help!) and it wasn’t the best but I do remember how it felt when the first birds came to visit! I’d love to hear your stories.