What Temperature Is Too High For A Year-And-A-Half-Old Baby 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 the year 2000, when my nephew was 4 years old, we introduced him to his first nature walk in our woods.

That weekend was full of beautiful sunshine and ideal temperatures. I fixed him a sandwich and he had his water bottle, pencil and his checklist. He chose for his costume at the time his cowboys, waistcoat and hat. Robbie was ready for his adventure.

We spent about half an hour walking in the woods and looking for those items on the checklist. He found quite a few, but seemed to be more distracted by the birds than anything else. Shortly after this first nature walk he asked for binoculars for Christmas. It was then that I knew he would be part of the next generation of bird watchers. To say I was ‘tickled pink’ would be an understatement!

Here is my list of fun things for kids to help spark their interest in nature and especially bird watching.

· Go on a nature walk looking for birds, wildlife and bugs. There are several good books for young or beginning bird watchers. Take a Backyard Bird Walk by Jane Kirkland is very good, as is her book titled Take an Urban Nature Walkboth of which are available online and in bookstores.

Things to take with you on your nature walk: pencil or pen, checklist or tablet on which to record your sightings, time and weather conditions; camera and or binoculars; water bottle; healthy snack; garbage bag and gloves to pick up any garbage or trash, and help keep our Earth clean.

· Friendly Bird Guides. Again there are several very good ones just for kids that help them identify birds they see. Peterson’s Young Birders Guide is a comprehensive book directed at young people, and is the best I have seen.

· Cornell Lab of Ornithology has programs for children, as well as a downloadable PDF file of common birds they are most likely to see. Their website contains a wealth of information.

· Binoculars made for children. These should be powerful enough that they can actually make a good identification, but not so heavy or cumbersome as to make them unusable by small children.

· Audio CDs to identify birds by their songs. Even if children are unable to actually see the bird, they can learn to identify it by listening to the bird calls. For example, when I hear “Chip-Bang” I know a scarlet tanager is nearby. They often roost high in the tallest trees and are very difficult to see.

· Buy an inexpensive 4″x6″ photo album where kids can insert pictures, pens, etc. of his walks. They can also add bird stickers, and or pictures and articles from magazines for future reference. A small inexpensive scrapbook or journal would work for this as well.

· Plant a bird seed garden and bird attracting flowers. Perennials like bee balm and purple coneflowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies. This is a great way to introduce kids to planting things and watching them grow.

· Buy a simple bird house and show children how to approach carefully to check if a bird has nested or not. Be sure to buy one that has an easily accessible door that can be safely closed once observations are made!

· To attract birds to nest nearby, cut lengths of twine or cotton thread 4″ to 8″ long and drape them over branches where birds can find them. Do this on a dry day because they do not use wet materials when making their nests. Most birds nest between March and June.

· To make a soft lining for their eggs and baby birds, Mom and Dad bird use animal fur, moss and feathers from other birds. You can use an old feather pillow or find one at a thrift store. Open the pillow and pick out the curly little feathers. These can be stuffed into a netting bag so the birds can pull them out of the holes in the netting. Hang your pen bag in a protected area to keep the pens dry.

· Window bird feeders are a wonderful way for children to watch birds up close without disturbing them. Because birds have to slow down to approach this type of feeder, there is no danger of them getting hurt by hitting the window. To make sure the suction cups stick securely to your window, clean the window thoroughly with one part vinegar to 2 parts water. Make sure the window is dry; wash the suction cups in warm water, then dry thoroughly. The heat makes them more flexible and easier to attach. Mounting a window bird feeder is best done when the outdoor temperatures are above freezing.

· Make some popcorn and share it with your bird friends; or fix a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, cut it into small bird-sized pieces and leave them on a feeder for your birds to discover.

Our newest generation of bird watchers is just “waiting in the wings” to be inspired. Help them awaken that interest in enjoying and protecting our wild birds, and all wildlife. We will all benefit in ways that will reach far into the future.

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