Monday, April 4, 2011

Outdoor Adventures: Bird Watching by Erin Uda

The birds have been singing us awake for weeks now. This past week, the nest in our covered parking spot overflowed and we were treated to a close look at the materials the birds used to make their nest. My boys were amazed at the variety: there was a blue ribbon, multiple twigs, dried grass, pieces of litter, and plenty of other random items. We caught sight of some eggs in the nest above; perhaps that was why they were making room!

This week, your outdoor adventure is to go birdwatching. If you’ve heard the birds, you should be able to find a nest relatively close to your home. If not, try a local park in the morning, when birds are most active. Before you go, print out THIS page that I found at and use it to track the birds you find. You could even play bird bingo, if desired.

My favorite way to view birds is up close and personal, but that’s not usually an option for young children, so I suggest bringing a pair of binoculars with you. In fact, it might not hurt to keep your binoculars close for the entire week. Birds are everywhere; my boys even found finches in the grocery store parking lot.

If you have an aviary (or pet store) nearby, consider planning a visit – it’s a great way to see birds that are difficult to find in the wild. It’s also a great way to learn how to care for birds; most aviaries help injured birds until they have recovered enough to return to the wild.

If your budget is as tight as mine, you could plan a visit to a local farm supply store such as CAL ranch or IFA. They sell newly hatched chicks to farmers and usually allow children to handle them. I still remember seeing the eggs in the incubator for weeks, then suddenly there were fuzzy yellow chicks the next time I visited. It was miraculous to me at the time; I thought eggs were just for eating.

If your children like the idea of watching the birds all summer, think about building a birdhouse in your yard. I’m sure Naomi has some great ideas for building one!

(This is Naomi... and here is a great link I found for birdhouses you can make with children. Enjoy!)

It’s always a good idea to be prepared; find bird watching guides and bird encyclopedias at your local library: Call # 598

Book List:

  • Fly High, Fly Low – Don Freeman (ISBN: 9780142408179; Call #: P Freeman) Caldecott Honor Book
  • The Best Nest – P.D. Eastman (ISBN: 9780394800516; Call #: B Eastman)
  • The sad story of the little bluebird and the hungry cat – Edna Mitchell Preston (ISBN:9780590102766; Call #: B Preston)
  • Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America – Kenn Kaufman (ISBN:9780618574230; Call #: 598.097 K1625)
  • Feathers for Lunch – Lois Ehlert (P Ehlert)
  • Dancers in the Garden – Joanne Ryder (P Ryder)

Here are some more helpful links:

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