What child hasn't been delighted to see his first bird up close?
Maybe it was a humble sparrow or a squawking seagull - whatever they are, birds are a natural delight to watch and can be seen anywhere in the world.
If you are looking for an activity that you can enjoy with your children, whether they're five or 15, you might want to consider the popular hobby of bird watching. It is one of the fastest growing outdoor activities in America - and a great way for families to enjoy time together.
What IS Bird Watching?
Bird watching is more than just observing birds. It is an interest in the actual birds - their names, markings, activities, songs and habitats. Not only does it encourage a child (or an adult) to learn about birds, but gets them outside and builds an appreciation of local wildlife and nature.
Bird watching doesn't require a strong knowledge of birds; you can learn with your children as you begin to locate and identify local wild birds. Keep a list of the birds you've spotted and help one another identify what you've seen by making notes of the color, size and markings on the bird. You may even start to learn their calls and challenge yourself to identify the birds by their songs.
Where Can You Go to Bird Watch?
Bird watching can be as simple an activity as setting up a bird feeder in your backyard and watching the local wild birds that come to you. However, your children will no doubt appreciate time spent outdoors, properly geared up for an outing of bird watching with you.
You will soon learn about the specific habitats that birds live in around your home. As you become familiar with local birds you may even want to take trips to areas that will feature different species than you have locally. Watch as your children eagerly try to identify these new birds before you do!
What Do You Need?
Bird watching is a very inexpensive hobby. If you are going to be outside you will want everyone to have proper attire - including an extra pair of socks and a hat.
Other than that you will need at least one pair of binoculars, although it is more fun if everyone has their own pair so nobody misses out on a sighting. There are special binoculars for kids. You'll also want a bird book (called a field guide) to help you identify the birds you see. If you take along one that features birds in your area it will also give you suggestions about where you can find them.
If your children are older, or you catch the bird watching bug, be sure to take along a notepad and camera. Make notes on birds you can't identify and look them up at home with your children to determine what you saw. You might also develop a list of local birds and check them off as you see them. This is great for kids who thrive on challenge!
Don't miss out - watch birds in your backyard daily. Just put up a feeder to get started. But if you really want to attract birds add a bird bath. You and your kids will have even more fun if you put up a birdhouse (nestbox) to watch a new family of baby birds being raised.
Bird watching is a fantastic hobby that the whole family can enjoy. Try it one afternoon and see for yourself how your family bonds while enjoying the fresh air, local scenery and most of all . . . the natural world!
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Shari Carpenter is the owner of http://www.birdwatchin.com , a one-stop resource for people that love birdwatching, bird feeding and pet birds. http://www.birdwatchin.com covers a wide range of information, products and supplies, including the blog “Birdwatchin’ Buzz Today!" It is also the place to subscribe to “David's Wild Bird Club" Newsletter.