Winter is actually a great time to explore nature and go birding with the kids. February is the Great Backyard Bird Count so a winter birding walk will get you and your kids ready to participate.
Long time readers (waves) know that my oldest son is the one who got me into birding and now his brother is following in his footsteps. I get many requests to go bird watching and I try to make as much room in our schedule to accommodate my son's passion for his feathered friends. Along the way I've learned a few things about how to make a birding outing successful. (Note: this post contains affiliate links.)
Tips for Winter Birding with Kids:
Do your research:
Check out a lot of books on birds from the library. Kids get super excited when they can identify a bird species. I mean super duper excited. Kiddo's favorite is the The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America, but there are many to chose from.
In particular, learn which birds spend the winter in your area. You can do this yourself with a quality field guide or visit your local parks information station.
Stalk the birds where THEY are:
Don't expect there to be lots of birds just because you are outside. It may take a bit of discovery to locate just which part of the park the birds like to congregate.
Find out if there are any large bird feeders in your area. You can make your own bird feeders, but nothing beats visiting a park feeder swarming with all sorts of bird varieties. Both of our large city parks have feeding stations - and we are never disappointed when we visit one of them.
Head for the water. Ducks are pretty reliable, but please, don't feed the ducks human food! It may be fun, but it is not good for them and true bird lovers will refrain from feeding them crackers and bread crumbs.
Get Professional Help:
Go on an official bird walk. The pros will take you to the good spots, give you tips on using binoculars and generally fill in when parents (like me) are birding novices.
Record and Review:
Encourage your kids to record their findings in a bird log. You don't ned to be a professional photographer to capture birds. My picks are always pretty grainy (and not blog-worthy) but Kiddo doesn't mind, he still prints them out and pastes them in his birding hobby book.
If you want a book that is preformatted Buggy and Buddy has a sweet, printable bird book that will work well for the youngest kids or you can try out this Bird Log that Kiddo likes.
Between outings, read bird story books. It's fun to identify the various species in picture books. We have a few suggestions for bird books for kids.
Prepare your Equipment:
It should be obvious, but dress warmly, wear good walking shoes and bring snacks and water.
Nature walks are always more fun with a well-stocked field bag. If your child is old enough for a good pair of binoculars, I recommend going to a store to purchase them. You need to test them out, make sure they are a good fit for little hands and easily adjustable.
More Resources for Winter Birding:
The Great Backyard Bird Count. Kids love to feel part of something big. Join in the nation wide project to count birds in February.
If it's too cold to get outside, you can watch Cornell Lab of Ornithology's feeder cams! My sons love these! Click on that link to see the current LIVE offerings. This video is of two Ruffed Grouse visiting the Ontario FeederWatch cam.
Speaking of Cornell Lab, it is your one stop shop for all things birding. Urban birders will particularly appreciate their pages that celebrate urban birds.
Do your kids like birding? What are your tips for a successful winter bird-watching outing?
I love this post, Erika! My kids love nature as well and we love to wonder with them 🙂
Maybe your son would enjoy Charley Harper's artwork. I adore his work and I have books, prints and even coloring book (yes, I color too!) Do you know his work? Here is his website: https://www.charleyharperprints.com/
Erica MomandKiddo says
I love Charley Harper. I had never heard of him until a few years ago when I bought a wooden kids puzzle at a stoop sale with his animal artwork on it.
Great! I have forgot about the puzzles, we love those too.
I am always amazed at the depth of your son's bird watching passion. We have a lot of birds visiting now, of course, and we enjoy watching them, but nothing like what you guys do! Great tips, and I'll be linking to you in my own upcoming bird post (great minds think alike, it seems :))
Coombe Mill says
We have one who is fascinated with birds too, a great way to enjoy outdoor life in winter.
so great when we can follow our children's passions.
Erica MomandKiddo says
I agree, Belinda. It lets them see we value them.
Audric Lopes says
Thanks for sharing, got to look for equivelent stuff in Europe!
Mudpie Mama says
This is brilliant and so timely with the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch coming up in the UK. Great tips, I love that your son is so passionate. Thanks for sharing with the Outdoor Play Party 🙂
Hey There! Thanks for linking up to the Hearts for Home Blog Hop last week. I chose this post as one of my favorites, and you are featured on my blog this week. Stop by and grab an “I was featured” button if you’d like!
Al Bod says
Hi, asking for permission to use your photo of the kids looking through binoculars. I'd like to post it on a Facebook business page I manage. Plan to use it under the topic of "Ideas for your Family Day weekend. Thanks.
Hi Al, Thank you for asking. I can't grant you permission for that purpose. Here are some resources where you can find free stock photos that might help you find what you need. https://www.picmonkey.com/blog/free-stock-photos Best, Erica