It feels good to enjoy activities as a family and what could be better than getting everyone out into the fresh air? Birdwatching is fascinating, but it may not be so easy to encourage the entire family to get excited about it—especially if young kids are involved. Here are some suggestions to encourage the whole family to join in on the (educational) fun.
1. Start in the garden
You don’t have to plan a day out to get your family interested in birds. To start off, begin by observing the birds in your own backyard. To enhance the experience, give your family small tasks in the garden so they can enjoy the visiting birds. Bird feeders are also a great way to get your family interested in birdwatching. This is the kind of activity children will love to help with, particularly when they get to see the birds coming along to feed.
2. Let them be part of it
Invest in a pair of binoculars that can be passed around from adults to children. Consider integrating a bird guide complete with pictures into your birdwatching activities to get a better understanding of what you’re looking at.
3. Start local
When you feel your family is ready for a birdwatching outing, keep it local. Children don’t usually love long car rides and you don’t want their enthusiasm to wane along the way, so try to stay close to home by visiting the local park or lake. Pro tip: Always take snacks and drinks, or turn the day into a birdwatching picnic. As your family develops more of an interest in birds, you can take them to different areas that may be farther away.
4. Integrate nature as a whole
If kids—or teenagers—start to lose interest in the birds, take them on a walk and show them places birds may nest and keep an eye out for feathers. This is also a good opportunity to teach them about the environment’s natural habitats.
5. Make a game out of it
Keep everyone engaged by incorporating games into your birdwatching. For example, if someone can identify five birds, reward them with a treat or prize. Kids love to mimic, so if you hear a bird call, try making the same noise. Kids might also enjoy drawing the birds they see—keep some coloured pencils and drawing paper handy. A scavenger hunt can also be a fun, engaging activity.
6. Join local groups
All areas have birdwatching groups, but try to find one which actively includes families. They will know how to encourage children to take part in birdwatching and will be most likely to arrange special family outings. Birding with other families is not only a good way to socialize, but it means your children can share the activity with other children and this will increase their overall interest. All children love showing other children what they know and this helps them all learn a lot more in a fun atmosphere.
7. Keep a scrapbook
It doesn’t necessarily have to be a scrapbook, but find a way to keep a record of your birdwatching outings. If there are any drawings from the outing, keep them together and try printing off a picture of the bird you’ve all drawn for comparison. If you’ve got mementoes from the day such as leaves or feathers, keep them in a nature box, or put keep them into your scrapbook. Photograph the birds you come across (even snaps with your phone), and take note of the time and place the birds were seen.