It’s never too early to get the little humans in your life excited about birds.
For all of the time kids spend learning the animals on Old Macdonald’s Farm and the inhabitants of the zoo, you’d think there might be a bit more attention paid at school to the creatures living closer to home. Until someone comes up with a catchy kids’ song about warblers, however, getting kids turned on to birding will take a little creativity on your part. Here are a few ways to get them started.
The Mallard Goes Quack
You can’t expect someone under 10 to spend a morning sitting quietly and staring at a marsh (indeed, that’s a challenge for most adults) but there’s nothing wrong with encouraging kids to learn the correct names of birds at a young age. There’s no easier way to do this than at your nearest pond or lakeshore, where there are usually a few species of waterfowl to be found. Teaching a kid that there’s no such thing as a duck or a goose, but rather many different members in the family, each with its own unique features and habits, is one way fire up their curiosity.
Hone in on Behaviours
A great way to get kids interested in birds is to start by highlighting some of the amazing things they’re capable of. You can start with things like migration, talking up the great distances that local species like Canada Geese and Red-Tailed Hawks travel each year. Nest-building could also be a good entry point, especially where unusual designs like the Baltimore Oriole’s hanging nest are concerned.
Make it a Game
Kids learn by playing, so one way to get them engaged with birding is to turn it into a game. Armed with a kids’ field guide (or just a sheet of paper with some pictures printed on it) challenge your kiddo to find and identify three kinds of birds on your next outing to the park. The more they start to notice the pigeons, ducks and grackles they discover around them, the more curious they will become about birds in general.
Kids are natural mimics, a skill that can be extremely useful in introducing them to various bird calls and songs. Sure, our human vocal cords aren’t built for precisely imitating these sounds, but a few of the easier mnemonics (a robin’s cheer up, cheerily, cheer up, cheerily, for instance) are within most kids’ ability.
Urban Nature Store