Kids love being outdoors, but too many spend much of their childhood cooped up inside in front of a screen or five. Not only is it unhealthy, but it also means the next generation and the one after that are not falling in love with the natural world and the wildlife around them; including birds.
Introducing kids of any age to birds, birding and the environment can only benefit everyone involved: including the birds. Some of these kids will become advocates for the conservation of birds in the future. Without them to speak for birds and to understand birds and their habitats, the future of birds will be dire.
And birding is just plain fun. Children love a challenge, and introducing challenges is a great way to get kids into bird watching. How many birds can they spot? How many species can they name? Which birds do they find throughout the year in different seasons? Teachers who plan bird related lessons or activities in school can give kids a great head start in becoming bird lovers as they develop their interest in class and outside the classroom, then take that home with them.
What do kids need to get started with birdwatching?
As we know, birding is a free activity and you can do it with zero financial outlay and not even any consumables if you don’t want to. Books, binoculars, smart phones with apps, and cameras with telephoto lenses are all wonderful birding accessories – but they aren’t mandatory. Families who are on a budget can make birding a new activity that costs nothing but time (and perhaps some travel costs if you wish to go outside your local walking distance).
This can make it a challenge to entice children away from their technological and entertainment comforts like their console games, PC, tablet, television and whatever else they tend to amuse themselves with during the time you’d prefer them to be outdoors. Kids these days may feel alien walking around without holding some sort of device.
A small financial investment can help make things more exciting for kids, depending on their age. A good bird guide book is one of the best places to start. But if you or they really prefer technology instead, go for a good birding identification app where the kids can not only look at the birds, but hear their calls as well.