Super simple backyard birdwatching with kids is a brilliant low prep way to spark kids interest in nature and prompt a whole bunch of fun nature studies activities and cool bird crafts.
Now obviously most kids won’t get excited just sitting watching birds.
But done a bit differently background birdwatching can inspire kids to:
- Create bird feeders
- Find out the best ways to attract birds to the backyard
- Learn about bird habitats
- Make bird feather & bird nest crafts
- Develop counting & statistics skills.
So in this post I’ve got loads of suggestions for kids activities covering all of these.
But first let’s look at how we can help kids really watch birds in their backyard and actually get to know them as budding naturalists.
Real Birdwatching With Kids
The really interesting bit about bird watching with kids is to actually get to know the birds because they do have incredibly different personalities:
- Some backyard birds are right little nosey parkers who inspect everything you do whilst some are shy as mice.
- Some always come with a partner whilst others descend in a gang.
- Some sit still for an age and others are total fidget bums.
These personalities actually reflect the very different ways different birds have adapted to survive best in the habitat that is your backyard or garden.
So to help your kids get to know the birds in your backyard or garden or local park, don’t worry about names but as enjoying the garden or some of the bird crafts below, try asking yourselves some of these questions and see what your kids spot.
(Depending where you are, the actual birds will of course vary but the questions – interestingly – hold true).
Getting To Know Birds
- Who likes to feed where? is it on the lawn? Or in the shrubs? Or between paving stones? Or in guttering?
- How high do they fly? who dashes around at fence height? Or even lower over the pond? And who’s up the highest trees? And what about those way up above the trees like seagulls and swifts. What are they up to up there? (Clue – there’s a lot of insects up there we can’t see).
- What’s the pecking order on the bird feeder? who gets to feed first? Are there some birds everyone moves over for? Or is there some pushing and shoving to get the best perch? And is there anyone good at sneaking in to eat when the other birds are squabbling?
- Who’s the nosiest? – in our garden this is definitely the robin, who just like the robin in The Secret Garden has to check out everything going on and loves to help with the gardening.
- Who’s the super shy songster? – in many gardens, ours included, it’s the tiny wren who creeps around carefully camouflaged by undergrowth but who every now and again takes centre stage and belts out a humdinger of a chorus like the surprise shy-star on X-Factor!
- Who shouts raucously? – the magpie on the other hand sings anything but beautifully. In fact he doesn’t really sing at all – he just cackles loudly to his friends nearby or the neighbour’s cat or a passing squirrel.
- Who always brings their partner? – some birds do form inseparable pairs and you rarely see them alone. If there’s one jay, in our garden, there’s always two …
- Who comes in a rowdy gang? … but the starlings always descend en-masse, noisily shoving.
- Who are the chatterboxes? – nearly all the tits are chatterboxes. Big families of great tits and blue tits turn up and never stop chattering. It’s pretty tuneful, but my goodness they can talk!
- Who are the fidget-bums? – the tits also win this title, the tiny little blue-tits never stay still.
- Who are the worse thieves? – magpies get a bad rap for stealing stuff but in our garden it’s the gold finches who brazenly nick garden string and the like for the nests. They’re always particularly keen on any string holding something up!
- Who are the bullies? – our robin is bossy but it’s the crows who are the bullies. Too cowardly to come up close for food they mug the braver little birds for their crumbs!
- Where do the birds wash? is it just in a bird bath or puddle? Watch out for little birds in hot, dry weather and you may catch them having a dust bath in your flower beds to clean themselves up!
- Who are the winter visitors? – here in London, we don’t get many winter migrants in the garden itself but occasionally a flock of beautiful red-wings visits from Sweden. They never stay long before the advance hunting party returns to announce more food found elsewhere.
- Who stays for the summer? – in the first week of May, our summer visitors turn up. Every year, the totally amazing swifts fly over 5,000 miles back from central Africa to our street in south London where their family has been nesting for generations! How cool is that? We’re always so excited to see them return. And a bit sad to see them go in July.
- Who forecasts the storm? – we have another more sporadic visitor to our garden. They don’t land but circle in a group over head. And when they do appear, it always means a storm or snow is on it’s way! Can you guess who it is? Have a peek here to find out …
Through these backyard bird watching prompts kids will start learning to:
- Recognise the different levels of bird habitat within your backyard and how different birds are best adapted to live at different levels;
- Connect the different micro habitats with feeding strategies e.g. worms on the lawn or high flying insects;
- Understand about flocks and territory in bird habitats;
- Identify different ways birds use calls to communicate about food and territory and danger;
- Appreciate seasonal migration;
- And wonder awestruck at bird’s sensory powers – forecasting the weather and navigating their way home from Africa is pretty impressive.
So there you go … loads of questions to ask about the birds in your garden.
They really help kids to notice the differences in behaviour between different garden birds.
AND bring the birds to life for them.
PLUS our questions, get our kids asking their own questions …
… what do different birds do? Why do they do it? How does it help them survive?
And then before you know it, you’ve got a little naturalist on your hands! Hurrah!
I so hope you have fun with this and would love to hear about the birds in your garden.
What antics do they get up to? Which do your kids love most?