Kids and birding are a natural combination. Parents will be happy to leave the electronics behind, slow down, and reconnect with nature. For kids, though, birding can be full of adventure and challenge. There’s no denying the thrill of finally finding a rare species or identifying a hidden bird by its call. Best of all, birding is an inexpensive family hobby that requires only a one-time investment in a field guide and a pair of binoculars.
The following resources will help you learn the ropes on birding for kids.
How To Get Started
Tips on Getting Started: This overview will introduce you to birding and the two things you’ll need to birdwatch with the kids.
Free Printable Bird Book: Have your kids draw and write about the birds they see.
What to Wear Birding: Birds are sensitive to bright colors that typically warn them of dangerous predators. This guide will help you find the right clothing to keep safe from the elements, too.
A Kids’ Guide to Birding: This interview with an avid 13-year-old birder gives ideas on how to get kids interested in this activity.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology: This educational resource offers online courses, live camera feeds and other fun birding information for newbies.
The Great Backyard Bird Count: Get involved with an official birdwatching group that helps count birds all over the globe.
Bird Hotspots Near You: Search by state for areas heavily populated with a variety of birds.
Best Times and Seasons for Birding: Check out the best times of day and year to see the most kinds of birds.
Types of Bird Feeders: Learn how to bring birds to you with these various kinds of feeders.
Feeding Birds: Here are the pros and cons of various bird feed including sunflower seeds, safflower, peanuts, corn and more.
Bird Seed Recipes: These homemade treats will be sure to attract birds right to your own yard.
The Audubon Guide: The premiere birding book publisher offers its tips and advice on finding quality bird binoculars. The “Get in the Game” category offers inexpensive, kid-friendly starter equipment.
Choosing Binoculars for Kids: Here you’ll learn what features to look for in binoculars for kids by age, starting with toddlers.
Binoculars for Birding: This resource recommends investing a little more in kids’ binoculars to get durability and clear image projection.
Bird Books for Children: This compilation of bird books for all ages introduces birds and birdwatching.
Children’s Bird Books: Broken down by age, these books help foster a love of birds in children through fictional stories and encyclopedic references.
10 Birding Apps:For the techies, these bird apps are a big upgrade from traditional bird books.
10 Apps for Bird Identification: These apps are designed to learn birds by visual and by sound, making them great for kids.
7 Best Cameras for Kids: From digital to instant Polaroid, these cameras are built tough and small for kids of all ages.
Family Camera Guide: These cameras are a bit more of an investment but are perfect if the whole family is interested in birding.
Here Are Our Additional Tips For Kids Who Want To Start Bird Watching
Take the opportunity to learn about other areas of nature. Plant, flower and tree identification books can also help make it easier to find certain species of birds like hummingbirds. You can also learn to track animal prints to identify rabbits, foxes, deer and more. Conservation and ecology can also be important lessons to pass on during birding.
Consider bringing the birds to you. Ask a local aviary about the best mix of seeds and treats to attract local birds like cardinals. A heated birdbath can also bring songbirds, particularly on colder days. Believe it or not, bird experts recommend keeping these feeders and baths within three feet of a window, which is perfect for children’s viewing. This way, birds cannot build up enough speed leaving the feeders to injure themselves flying into a window.
Try tracking your bird finds with a traditional field journal or make an account with a web-based app like eBird. These both allow a compilation of memories through a notes section that describes where and how you spotted birds over time. For many siblings, there will become special competition to be the first to document a rare species or to track who has found the most species.
While you can start off in your own backyard, you’ll eventually want to venture into different habitats. Mountainous areas, forests, lakes, rivers and oceans all have different species present. If your kids are getting bored spotting robins, make a day trip to a new area and see what you can find.
Don’t forget safety! Wear sunscreen, bug spray, long sleeves and pants, and good shoes if you plan on being outside. Take special care in heavily wooded areas or near standing bodies of water, where ticks and mosquitoes may be present.