Best Time In A Day To Teach 4 Year Old 12 Fun Ways to Get Kids Interested in Birds and Bird Watching

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12 Fun Ways to Get Kids Interested in Birds and Bird Watching

In 2000, when my grandson was 4 years old, we introduced him to his first walk in our woods.

The weekend was full of beautiful sunshine and perfect temperatures. I fixed his sandwich and he had his water bottle, pencil and his notebook. He chose for him an outfit of the day his cowboy chaps, vest and hat. Robbie is ready for his adventure.

We spent about half an hour walking in the forest and searching for items on the checklist. He saw a few, but seemed more distracted by the birds than anything else. Shortly after the first scene of this journey he asked for two cameras for Christmas. That’s when I knew he was going to be part of the next bird watchers. To say I am ‘tickled red’ would be an understatement!

Here is my list of fun activities for kids to help develop their appreciation for nature and especially bird watching.

· Go on walks to see birds, wildlife and insects. There are several good books for young or beginning bird watchers. Take a Backyard Bird Walk by Jane Kirkland is excellent, as is her book title Take the City Nature Walkboth are available online and in bookstores.

Things to bring in your journey: pencil or pen, notepad or tablet to note your view, time of day and weather; cameras and or binoculars; water bottle; good health; Garbage bags and gloves collect garbage or trash, and help keep our planet clean.

· Kid-friendly Bird Guides. Again there are a few great things for kids that help them identify the birds they see. Young Birders Guide by Peterson is a guide for children, and is the best I have seen.

· The Cornell Lab of Ornithology offers programs for children, including downloadable PDFs of their favorite birds. Their website has a lot of information.

· Binoculars made for children. These should be strong enough so that they can perform a good analysis, but not so heavy or cumbersome that they cannot be used by children.

· Audio CDs to identify birds by their songs. Although children cannot actually see the bird, they can learn about it by listening to the bird call. For example, when I hear “Chip-Bang” I know that a scarlet tanager is nearby. They often perch high on the tallest trees and are hard to see.

· Buy an inexpensive 4″x6″ photo album where the kids can grab pictures, feathers, etc. from their travels. They can add stickers, and pictures and text from magazines for future reference. A small, inexpensive notebook or journal will work for this as well.

· Plant a garden of bird seeds and flowers that attract birds. Perennials like bee balm and purple coneflowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies. This is a great way to teach kids to grow things and watch them grow.

· Buy a simple birdhouse and teach the children to carefully check if the birds have nested. Be sure to buy one that has an easy-access door that can be securely locked after the inspection is complete!

· To entice birds to come closer, cut lengths of twine or cotton thread 4″ to 8″ long and hang them over branches where birds can find them. Do this on dry days because they don’t use wet cloths when making their nests. Most birds nest between March and June.

· To make the insects soft for their eggs and baby birds, Mama and Papa birds use feathers, moss and other bird feathers. You can use an old pillow or find one at the thrift store. Open the pillow and pick up the little curly hair. These can be placed in a mesh bag so that the birds can pull them out of the holes in the mesh. Keep your feather bag in a protected place to let the hair dry.

· Window-mounted bird feeders are a great way for kids to watch birds up close without disturbing them. Because the birds have to slow down to reach this type of feeder, there is no danger that they will be injured by hitting the window. To keep the glass container secure to your window, clean the window thoroughly with one part vinegar to 2 parts water. Make sure the window is dry; Rinse the suction cup in warm water, then dry thoroughly. The warmth makes them more pliable and easy to connect. Mounting a window bird feeder is best done when the outdoor temperature is above freezing.

· Make some popcorn and share it with your bird friends; or make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, cut into small pieces and put them on the feeder for your birds to see.

Our new generation of bird watchers is just ‘waiting in the wings’ to be inspired. Help them take pride in enjoying and protecting our wild birds, and all wildlife for that matter. We will all benefit in ways that will go far into the future.

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