Guide: Taking Kids Birding

Dakota at Sugar River Forest Preserve

We have the great pleasure of teaching three young children the wonders of nature, especially birds. Thus, we have decided to create a guide to help others understand some of the “tricks” to taking kids birding.

View the entire guide now or you can download the PDF version [444 KB]

Here is an excerpt:

Start With Feeder Birds
Backyards and bird feeders are an excellent way to start a kid birding. They provide all the essentials: birds (of course!), an area to practice using bins, and the opportunity for long term study. Plus, as many great birders will tell you, it is important to get the “common” birds down before seeking anything elusive or rare. Younger kids that haven’t mastered the use of bins will enjoy watching birds visit the feeders with the naked eye.

Once the feeders have been thoroughly scrutinized it is time to go into the woods (or fields, prairies, wetlands, etc.). Try to go to a place where you know there will be birds. Even if the birds are common (or even the same ones as the feeders) this will give kids more practice using bins and also up the excitement of finding new birds.

Important: One of the best things about being out in nature is the sense of discovery. Kids are bombarded with order and structure in school and home and even in video games. There are rules and regulations in the games they play and everything is pre-planned. Birding breaks them free of this. Let the child explore. This includes beyond birds. If they want to flip over a rock, kick over a fallen tree limb, or try and catch a frog let them. Just like when a Brown-headed Cowbird is perched in plain view, don’t overlook it and move on. Let the kid enjoy the sense of discovery.

View the entire guide.

Note: After you read our guide, please let us know what you think; what should be added or changed. Your feedback is greatly appreciated!!

Some input for this guide came from Naturalist D, son of Veery, and Naturalists S & A, daughters of SnowyOwl

14 thoughts on “Guide: Taking Kids Birding

  1. What a great idea. You almost make me wish I had kids…Almost. *LOL* Actually, when I visit my young nephews in Florida, I always make a point of introducing them to various aspects of nature. From a local lake to the Orlando Science Center, I like to encourage their voyage of discovery.

  2. Lana – thank you; we hope to invoke the sense of discovery in all children!

    Daniel – hope our guide helps a lot!!

    Scott – thank you for the link!

    Mon@rch – thank you much and a hardy thanks goes out to the work you do in teaching kids about birds

    Larry – thanks and we hope you are able to teach some kids about birding!!

  3. I really enjoyed your guide but I would suggest one change. After looking at feeder birds, I would try to take the kid(s) to somewhere that has really big, easily visible birds. In most areas, this means heading to a lake or a marsh. I’ve never known any child not be fascinated by egrets, herons, ibis, spoonbills, etc.


  4. Mike – thanks for the link!!

    Jeff – Excellent point! We’ll add that when we update the guide.

  5. Birdfreak Team – this is fantastic.
    I’ve added the link to the Online Bird Resources page of our WBU store website at
    You will also be featured next week in “Zen Nature Lessons – Responsibility” on The Zen Birdfeeder blog.
    Great work – THANK YOU.
    One suggestion would be to add a blurb (especially when talking about using birdjam) about responsible birding (without lecturing!) Thanks again.

  6. Zen Birdfeeder – thank you very much for adding the link! We are planning on updating the guide in a few months and will add that. Plus we plan on adding some info about bird banding and more!!

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