Flock to It- Bird Watching

All you need is an outdoor space.  Whether it’s a yard or a public park, bird watching is free, fun way to peak your little’s interest in nature and wildlife.  It will also help your little sharpen their awareness skills.  It doesn’t hurt that bird watching is also a silent sport.

Get started.  To participate in the count start by registering your little birder at ebird.org. To start the account, visit the Submit Observations tab, fill out the form and confirm your e-mail address. This will open a birding account which will ask specifics for each sighting like geographical location and date of sightings. From that site, there is also a link to a mobile app available for logging in finds in the field.

Learn to Observe. Kids can get a jump on their birding skills before the count by investing in a birders guide. A National Geographic Guide is available for less than $20, available widely at book stores and on Amazon.com. Public libraries carry a variety of birding guides as well. One of the most popular is Stokes Beginners Guides which break down the guides into different regions, helping kids identify the most common birds in their area.

Know what to look for.  To simplify the bird hunt you can also work from a pre-printed check list, available at the link provided. The checklist varies by region, after providing your zip code or city and state you will be provided with a customized checklist. Here’s our local bird checklist.

Flock together. Birding events can be found through local societies, in honor of the big week there will be several bird related events.

February is the perfect month to nurture your child’s inner bird lover. Mid-February is big in birding circles as the scheduled time for the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). The count is an event where any citizen scientist, even mini-scientists, can count birds near their home and log them in as part of a real science survey sponsored by the Cornell Ornithology Lab and the National Audubon Society. You can even explain to your littles that they are providing real scientific data to help real-researchers understand trends in bird populations, habitat changes and migration patterns. Several nature preserves, zoos and museums will be hosting special birding events in honor of the big day, but it can be enjoyed from a comfortable perch at home too. • by Nicole Loughan

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