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Since I was a little girl, I have enjoyed watching birds and listening to their beautiful and distinct tunes. The older I got, the more into it I became, and today, I am pretty darn good at identifying many native species by their appearance and songs! (Not to brag or anything, hehe.)
Birding is genuinely a lifelong hobby that is equally educational and enjoyable, so you better believe I have started teaching my grandkids young. Since backyard birding may not sound like the most thrilling activity, I am sharing my two cents on making it more exciting and why you should start sooner than later!
1. Tools of the Trade
Before you sigh and think birding is expensive – hold on! The basics include bird feeders and seeds. Now, if you want to add a sprinkle of excitement, throw in a pair of binoculars (the kiddos love these!) and maybe a field guidebook. Voila! You’re set.
2. Setting Up Your Bird-Watching Corner
Find that cozy spot in your garden or balcony, but remember this isn’t just about you; the birds need to feel safe too. A little distance from the house (but not too far from your view), maybe near some bushes or trees, would be ideal.
3. The Joy of Discovery
Every time a new bird visits, it’s like a mini-event! Make a game of it with the grandkids. Who can identify it first? With time, you’ll notice they’ll not just recognize the birds but also start remembering their songs.
4. Sketch, Don’t Just Watch
To make the experience even more interactive, hand your grandkids a journal or sketchbook and let them draw what they see. It doesn’t matter if it’s not an art masterpiece – it’s their personal record, and it’s precious.
5. Mimic Those Bird Calls
Now, this is a barrel of laughs! After you’ve heard a bird, try mimicking its call. It’s both hilarious and, let’s admit, quite challenging. But oh, the giggles it leads to!
6. Monthly Bird Count
Does anyone else have competitive grands? (Okay, they may get it from their grandma, as I can be a bit on the competitive side, too…) If so, have a friendly competition where, at the end of the month, whoever spotted the most species gets a reward.
7. Storytime with Birds
Every bird has a story, a migration tale, a fun fact. Share these stories. If you like, you can even find a plethora of beautiful bird-related picture and chapter books at the library. Soon, your grandkids will share them back with their added twists.
8. Research and Learn
Using your field guide or app, learn more about the birds you spot. Discovering their habits, migratory patterns, and fun facts can make the experience more enriching.
Birding isn’t just about watching birds; it’s about the stories, the games, the shared moments of discovery, and the joy of being with nature. And trust me, once you start, there’s no looking back. If you’re ready to share this lifelong hobby with your grands, pour some lemonade, grab those binoculars, and let the birding adventures begin!