Kid's Birding Resources
Birding can be great fun for the kids.
Here are some resources to make it fun and educational.
Birdwatching is the fastest-growing outdoor activity in America. There’s the thrill of the hunt—always hoping to spot something elusive and rare. Some people keep a checklist and can spend a lifetime counting-off species sighted. Some people just like the quietness and solitude birdwatching provides.
Bird watching tips:
- Most birds are more active at dawn and dusk.
- When using binoculars, locate bird first and then slowly bring eyepiece up to your eyes.
- Watch with your ears—you can usually hear birds in the woods before seeing them.
- Be patient—you may have to wait quietly before actually viewing one.
Everyday phrases that talk about birds.
Pine Cone Feeder
Click on the pine cone for directions (pdf)
When using a field guide to help with identification—note the following:
- How big or small is the bird?
- What color are its feathers? What kind of markings does it have? Bars on its wings? Rings around the eyes? Color underneath on its breast? Color of its feet and beak?
- What is the shape of its beak, head, legs, wings and tail?
- How does it move? Some fly straight, some dart about, some sail or soar.
- What does its song sound like? Every bird has a different song to attract and communicate.
- Where did you see the bird? Near water? A woodland? In an open field?
- Don’t forget that males and females can look very different. The males of many species are much more brightly colored to attract a mate, while the female is dull and drab to blend in with their surroundings while nesting.
Birds of Prey
- Have large talons used for gripping and tearing prey.
- Have large curved beaks with sharp points adapted for tearing meat.
- Have exceptionally good hearing (the Barn Owl can detect a rodent's movements at night hundreds of feet away!).
- Typically migrate throughout the changing seasons.
- Often recognized by their bright colors.
- Seed-eating birds (like Finches and Cardinals) have strong beaks for crushing nuts.
- Fruit-eaters (like Cedar Waxwings and Mockingbirds) have beaks specialized for picking berries.
- Others (like Robins and Brown Thrashers) have small beaks that help them catch bugs and worms.
- Some have very long legs for wading, some have webbed feet to help them swim.
- Ducks have specially adapted bills for “dabbling”–straining water through to collect plant and insect material.
- Swimming birds like ducks and geese have a special oil in their feathers that makes them waterproof and keeps them from sinking.
- Have feet adapted for holding on to the trunks of trees.
- Beaks are specialized for making holes in trees to search for insects
Nests and Eggs
It may be hard to see birds in the woods, but you may come across some of their nests or eggs.
- The Bald Eagle and its mate build a nest of twigs and branches very high up. These are some of the world’s largest nests—one found was 8 feet in diameter and weighed 2 tons!
- Hummingbirds often use spider webs to construct their tiny nests.
- Woodpeckers make their nests inside of tree cavities often enlarging a hole caused by decay.
- Quails nest on the ground in brush fields.
Size: Usually, the larger the bird, the larger the egg. The smallest bird, Hummingbirds, lay the smallest eggs (½” long—about the size of your pinkie nail). The largest living bird, the Ostrich, lays the largest egg (6” long).
Shape: Why are some “egg(oval)-shaped”? Because these eggs are smaller at one end, it allows the egg not to roll. This is important for birds that lay their eggs out in the open on rocky ledges such as cliff swallows. Owl eggs are almost completely round. There is no danger of them falling because owls usually nest in the holes of rotten trees.
Coloring: Birds that nest in holes or covered nests usually lay white eggs. The light color enables the parent birds to see their eggs more clearly in a dark environment. They do not need color to conceal their eggs from enemies because they are hidden from view or fiercely guarded. Many strongly colored and patterned eggs tend to belong to birds that nest near the water or in exposed nests on the ground. For these birds, egg color is necessary for camouflage.
Many birds sing songs in the spring to attract mates, defend territories, or to send messages of danger or alarm. All birds have unique songs, and the mockingbird can mock many of these songs. Here is a list of a few common bird songs—see if you can imitate these songs.
||"cheerio cheery me cheery me"
||"poor Sam Peabody-Peabody-Peabody"
|Eastern wood pewee
||"going up-coming down"
||"sweet sweet sweet I'm so sweet"
||"potato chip--potato chip"
Birds as teachers
A quick search on the internet of“kids’ activities about birds” will give you dozens of websites with great teaching resources including coloring pages, word games, math skillsheets, mazes and more.
Here are some good sites to visit:
Other Interesting Links
(If you'd like to suggest links that might interest kids, e-mail us!)
A Beginner's Guide to Bird Watching (submitted by Tyler)
Birding (submitted by kids of the Goodwin Community Center)
Birding on a Budget (submitted by a home school instructor)
How Feathers Keep Birds Warm (submitted by Kathy at Yosemite National Park, CA)
From Trees to Fields: A Beginner's Guide to Birdwatching (submitted by 5th grader, Emily, Colorado)
Bird Watching Tips (submitted by Nancy and Emma)