Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Introducing Backyard Bird Watching to Kids

There is something incredibly calming with watching birds. I could stare out our kitchen window at the bird feeders for the longest time. It is a form of meditation for me. My mom always had bird feeders all around my childhood home, and our house was a haven for birds. It made our home peaceful, and it is something I want my girls to remember about our home.

The beautiful thing about birdwatching is how it fosters a love and respect for nature. My little one loves watching the birds so much that she has moved the pots and pans so that she can sit on the shelf of our butcher block table to see out our back kitchen window. She has the best seat in the house to watch the birds.


I thought I would share some of our favorite books that foster a love of birdwatching. These six books span a wide range from a scientific guide book to an Aboriginal tale of how birds got their colors.

1. Beth's Birds - A Little Beth Book (Little Beth Books) by Deanna K. Klingel and illustrated by Steve Daniels. This book is a perfect introduction for a young child who is eager to learn about the birds often found in almost any backyard. My little J, who isn't quite two yet, loves looking at the birds in this book. I think it is because we have seen every bird in this book in our own backyard. There is even a suggestion towards the end of the book to roll pine cones in birdseed to attract birds, which is something my girls made me do today, prompting me to write this post. I also find it endearing how the story is told from the perspective of a little girl. This speaks to my kids, and they love how the girl describes the birds' personalities.





2. No Two Alike by Keith Baker. I almost hesitated including this book because it is a winter themed book and there is snow. However, my daughters adore this beautiful poem about how no two birds are exactly the same. The text is simple and the illustrations are gorgeous. This is not a bird book to learn about birds, but instead it is a book to fall in love with these two adorable red birds. We have no less than eight pairs of Cardinals that hang out around our house, and I think my youngest daughter makes the connection with the red birds in this book and the cardinals outside our window. 




3. Backyard Birds (A Harpercollins Nature Study Book)by Jonathan Pine and illustrated by Julie Zickefose. This book was a library find that my youngest daughter completely fell in love with thumbing through the pages and looking at the pictures. The illustrations are picturesque little watercolor paintings.The book describes the migrating patterns, nesting, feeding and  birds' courting habits for common birds found in North America. The books reads more like a conversation than a scientific text, which will make it easy to understand for child. My youngest just looked at the illustrations, whereas my oldest read through several chapters of the book.

4. The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America (Stokes Field Guides) by Donald and Lillian Stokes. This book is always sitting near our back window. It is filled with post-its, marking birds we have seen at our feeders. It is scientific and will researched. The edition I purchased came with a compact disc with recordings of bird calls. It contains gorgeous photos of birds as both juveniles and adults (which helps in this early spring-time) and detailed descriptions of the birds, their personalities, migration patters, and where they can be found in North America. We love thumbing through this book trying to decide exactly which type of blue bird or woodpecker has come to visit our backyard. Because these are actual photos, it makes it much easier to determine exactly what type of bird is chowing down on the birdseed.


5. Look Up!: Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard written and illustrated by Annette LeBlanc Cate. This book was a 2014 Robert F. Sibert Honor Book, and it totally deserved this award. Written with conversational text and a comic book feel, this book is perfect for the 7-12 year old age range. There is nothing precocious about this book. You do not feel compelled to purchase expensive binoculars or take exotic trips, this book focuses on how to understand the extraordinary about the seemingly ordinary birds right outside. We borrowed this one from the library, but we are adding it to our "to-purchase" list.

6. How the Birds Got Their Colours story by Mary Albert, Bardi tribe, Western Australia. Aboriginal children living in Broome, Western Australia painted the illustrations for this book. We simply adore this Aboriginal tale about how birds got their colors. I love the introduction: "Mary Albert said, 'Would you like to hear a story from long ago? My mother used to tell me lots of stories, but this story I loved the best, because I loved the birds.'" My youngest makes me read this book to her again and again. I could only find it available in Australia, and I was lucky enough to have a dear friend bring it back from Australia as a gift for my kids. Because it is illustrated by Aboriginal children, it makes a great introduction for my oldest about the history of Australia and the cultures found in Austraila. We love this book so much I have included a YouTube video of the book being read. Enjoy!


Do you have any additional suggestions for my list? I would love to hear from you!

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8 comments:

  1. Oh, I love your suggestions! We used to try harder to attract birds to our yard, until a litter of feral kittens moved in. It seemed cruel to the birds... Now that we're free of yard cats, we should definitely make more of an effort this year.

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    1. That would be cruel for the birds! Hope you find a safe haven for the birds this year.

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  2. Thank You! I am going to do a reading at our local bookstore and have the pinecones, peanut butter and bird seed available for kids to make their own to take home.

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    1. Let me know how the reading goes! Sadly, squirrels commandeered the pine cone bird feeders this week and broke our nice glass bird feeder. We may make more this weekend.

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  3. Love birds! Yes, squirrels can be a problem. I try to remind myself that they're wildlife too. :} I saw a tiny little bird with a yellow breast last week that I'd never seen before. I suspect it was migrating through but it's funny how it can add a little bright spot to your day just to see a new bird!

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    1. I've learned to scale back my yelling at the squirrels because little J has been yelling at the squirrels. Seeing my behavior modeled back to me is horrifying.

      I love when I get to see new birds migrating through, but miss them when they are gone.

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  4. My kids love birds and are always trying to think of ways to get them to come visit our backyard. :) We have many birdhouses scattered everywhere in hopes that they find one attractive. Thanks for the recommendations.

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    1. Have you had any birds nest in the houses? We have one bird house, but no birds in the house. However, there are plenty of bushes and trees that make much better homes for their nests.

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I would love to hear your thoughts.

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