How to be a birder

When the kids and I were on quarantine walk #1,052, we saw two bluebirds and a robin! (To be honest, that was the extent of my birding capability). On our next walk, we noticed different “songs” in our backyard, and we were intrigued. What else could we see? With a little research, it turns out… we could see a lot! 

Here’s the cool part about birding: anyone can do it anytime, anywhere. All it takes is some binoculars, an ID guide, and curiosity! We’ve got you covered.

Binoculars

Did you know you can make your own binoculars?! Follow these super easy instructions for DIY Cardboard Binoculars for Kids.

If DIY isn’t for you, and if you want to get real binoculars, go for it! The good ones tend to be really expensive, but the Bespin for kids and Celestron for adults are great starter options under $50. If you decide to up your birder game, there’s no shortage of research on buying great gear!

BTW, binoculars are referred to as “bins.” (See, you’re already on your way to being a pro!) 

ID Guides & Recorders 

The kids and I can finally identify more than just bluebirds and robins! The Audubon Bird Guide App (free) features calls, songs, and in-depth info about 810 species, and it draws on the continuously-updated eBird database to help you find specific birds near you.  

If you’re looking for a traditional book, The Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America ($19) is a favorite among new birders. 

You’ll want to record the birds you’re identifying, and the waterproof Rite in the Rain Birder’s Journal ($8) ensures that the water bottle left open by your kids (or any inclement weather) won’t destroy your notes. 

Curiosity

You don’t need to go far from your home to start your adventure. Birds can be seen on city streets, as well as in parks, yards, and nature preserves. It does help if you’re able to stick to areas near water. (Look out for those ducklings!)

Just remember: birds are hard to spot, but easy to hear. If you can’t see a bird — but you can hear one — consider it a clue! Also, keep an eye out for things like nests, seeds, or whitewash (aka ? ?), as they all point to birds living in the area.

The more you bird, the more in-depth you can go. You can create games, like finding as many different kinds of birds as you can, or finding as many of a particular kind (if the bird diversity in your area isn’t particularly wide). Don’t forget the #1 goal: have fun!

About Alexis

I'm a mom of two girls, ages 9 and 12. My daughters love to learn - math, science, reading and coding are their favorite things. Trying to navigate this "new normal" of parenting in a virtual world ... just like everyone else!

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