With everyone sheltering in place and schools closed during the Corvid-19 epidemic I thought I might create a quick catalog of resources for birding with kids. The spring migration is a great time to introduce kids to the wonder of birds as they move from South and Central America to North America. During the spring migration they are dressed in their most colorful breeding plumage and easier to see than in the fall. If you can’t get out to a park or nature center to bird, consider setting a bird feeder at your home or apartment and keep a journal of what birds arrive throughout the year. I also highly recommend introducing young kids to birding through story books, coloring pages and games. Below is a list of some of my favorite books as well as places to find bird feeders and seed that are safe and healthy for the birds.
Am I Like You? by Authors: Brian Scott Sockin & Laura Erickson Illustrated by: Anna Rettberg is one of my favorite birding books for kids.
Flight of the Hummingbird: A Parable for the Environment by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas (Author), The Dalai Lama (Afterword), Wangari Maathai (Contributor)
Common Backyard Birds by Doris Dumrauf is a good starter book for identifying common birds.
Baby Owls by Martin Waddell is beautifully illustrated story about little owls missing their mommy and so happy when she returns.
About Birds: A Guide for Children by Cathryn Sill, Illustrator – John Sill also has great illustrations and is easy reading for kids 5-8 years old.
Ruby’s Birds by Mya Thompson and Illustrator: Claudia Dávila is a picture book and totally fun for young kids.
When it comes to coloring books, Dover is the best place to find quality books for kids and adults.
Finding the right bird feeder isn’t always easy. Thankfully there are feeders now for just about every home from those with large yards to an intimate balcony space at an apartment. One thing to keep in mind when feeding the birds is to only use bird seed or hummingbird nectar that comes from a trust source. Never feed birds bread, it is not a natural food option for them and can be harmful. Also please avoid using hummingbird nectar that has red dye in it. The dye is also harmful to the birds. If you do set out feeders, please make sure they are cleaned regularly and out of reach of cats. House cats are wonderful pets, however, they are also very efficient predators who will snatch a bird if they have the chance.
Wild Birds Unlimited has just about everything you could ever want to attract birds to your yard year round. I also like Wild Bird Centers and my local feed store, Calahans General Store. Most stores have curb side pick up or delivery service during the shelter-in-place order.
Create a Habitat:
Having a bird feeder is great, but supplying birds with native plants is even better. Audubon has made it easy to pick out native plants that are right for your zip code on their new Plant for Birds website. Just type in the zip code you live in and find plants that create food or cover for birds year round. I prefer to go to plant stores that are local and raise their plants locally instead of a big box store that might import their plants from far away places. Invasive plants that come from Asia or other places can be toxic to children and wildlife.
If you live in the Austin area, check out Barton Springs Nursery for the very best of native plants and trees. And it’s located right next to Wild Birds Unlimited. You can even turn your yard into a Certified Wildlife Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation.
Lesson Plans and Educational Materials:
Audubon has tons of lesson plans, activities and other ideas to get kids interested in watching and caring for birds. They have a nice guide on how to make nectar for hummingbirds that I’ve used many times.
When it comes to learning about birds, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is at the very top. Check out their k-12 lessons and learning labs.