Hiking with a toddler is always an interesting endeavor. But since Sunday was the first day of spring, I decided to take my 2 1/2 year old out for a mid-morning, pre-nap hike in a local forest preserve.
The weather was chilly, meaning hat and gloves and repeated requests to “put hat and gloves back on”. But the sun was shining and when the wind was calm, it felt quite nice; maybe even “spring like”.
We were greeted immediately by countless birds: American Robins, Red-winged Blackbirds, Northern Cardinals, and that noble harbinger of spring, an Eastern Phoebe.
Before we could finish absorbing the flycatching of the phoebe, a large bird came into view. a Bald Eagle!
To my excitement, my son clearly saw and acknowledged the soaring eagle and upon showing him the digital view on the camera, responded to my prompts saying “eagle, eagle!”
We spent most of the rest of the hike lightly observing common birds (Eastern Bluebird, American Crow, Song Sparrow) and listening to the sounds of the woods. Well, my young naturalist spent most of this time rambling through the grass and climbing over rocks and downed branches.
Hiking with a toddler might be slower going but it has the added benefit of forcing me to slow down and observe the world around me more closely. And it is beyond delightful to share the wonderful natural world with someone who appreciates everything he sees with a level of fascination that is so often lost in adulthood.
I plan on taking many more hikes and involving my toddler (and in the future, baby) in a lot of the birdscaping work going on at home. Spring has just begun and I am exciting for the regrowth and resurgence of wildlife, especially birds.