Children and bird-watching
Created by Sreelakshmi Updated on Nov 13, 2017
"Mamma come soon, Pigi has come!" My little one calls out with the same enthusiasm and joy every time a pigeon visits our balcony. I always join my son with childlike enthusiasm and we bond with the pigeons. Some of my childhood’s best moments are the ones I spent watching and listening to the tweets of beautiful species of birds in their natural habitat. I remember spotting beautiful kingfishers, woodpeckers, cuckoos, sparrows, cranes, eagles, mynahsand even Siberian ducks (migratory birds). The lush green surroundings made it possible to spot these beautiful creatures.
Today Bird Watching has definitely evolved into a more advanced, focused and enjoyable hobby. With so many groups and online platforms to share bird watching experiences it makes this hobby quite attractive for children. Most children from an early age are naturally attracted and amused by birds, so if one wants to gift their child a hobby for a lifetime by getting up-close with nature, bird watching is a great option. Bird watching hones the child’s observation skills, improves patience, provides good physical exercise and it is fun for both the child and the parents.
Getting Started With Bird Watching For Children
It may be the neighborhood park, school or even your own backyard where your child’s passion for this new hobby may be ignited. Initially you can join your child and encourage his enthusiasm, as well as impart the confidence to venture independently later. Gradually your child may be inspired to join your locality’s bird watching club or other such groups.
- To begin with take your child out on a stroll and ask him to count how many birds he can see and ask them to describe each one to you, in his own words
- You could listen to the chirping of birds during early mornings. and then play a guessing game by asking "which bird is singing?"
- Listen to the bird calls and then identify birds according to their colour, shape and size, sparking off the curiosity and hewill want to know more about the birds
- The best time to watch the birds is early in the morning, when birds are searching for food
How To Attract Birds To Your Home?
To get your child interested in birds, attracting them to your home may be a good idea. Give the birds an incentive to come to your home and in turn this would enable your child to be comfortable around them.
- You may keep Feeders and water bowls as it will have hungry or thirsty birds coming with regularity
- Keeping the feeders full and cleaning them periodically will help
- A water body such as bird bath is a great idea to attract birds in urban areas; your child will love seeing the birds enjoying a bath
Things Your Child Needs For Bird Watching
You will need to equip your child with the following things before she can indulge in bird watching.
- A pair of child friendly binoculars: A child-friendly, good quality binocular would be a good investment for your child.
- Consider buying a sturdy pair of binoculars as they can be subject to rough handling
- Take your child along when buying the binoculars as she should be comfortable with handling the instrument independently
- Have your child try out the binoculars and make sure that your child can hold them in her hand or around her neck for an extended period
- It should be comfortable and not a cumbersome or heavy accessory for your child
- A colorful field guide: With a field guide and a pair of binoculars your child can easily identify almost any bird she spots
- A Digital camera: But to capture the birds in action, a good quality digital camera would be a great add on provided you feel she is responsible and mature enough to handle the camera with care.
- Your child would require an easy to use digital camera that has excellent built-in zoom capabilities so that it is easy to focus on distant objects
- This would enable her to share her pictures with like-minded bird watching enthusiasts
- This would be a great morale booster, making your child want to explore more birds and even other species
- A bird watching journal: It would be a great idea if your child can pen down her experience and records them in a journal for future reference.
- Let her describe the bird’s features, the date, the location where it was seen and what time it was seen
- Useful information on what the bird was seen feeding on can be added
- Even better would be if the birds’ photos can be taken and stuck onto the journal. It will keep the experience afresh and colourful
- Explore the neighborhood: Check out popular birding areas and parks near your locality. Some of them may often provide free guided tours. Encourage your child to participate in such camps and bird watching activities
- Dress code: The dress code for bird watching should be comfortable, quiet and weather appropriate.
- Any casual outdoor wear will be fine but ensure your child wears full sleeves to avoid insect bites
- Bright or shiny clothing should be avoided, especially white
- Camouflaged clothing are recommended in colours such as brown/dark green
- You may want to give your child sunglasses, an insect repellent and a water bottle/snacks in a small backpack along with the other bird watching equipment
- Cargo cut sleeves jackets that have multiple pockets to store things are really practical and handy
- Don’t go very close, especially when there are nests
- Flash must be used only when absolutely essential, and not regularly
- Don’t touch wild birds. Remember, birds are fragile
- Keep it quiet. Speak in low tones to avoid threatening the feathered friends that he hopes to spot
- Trash and other items must be removed to keep birds’ habitats as clean, natural and unharmed as possible
- No trespassing on private property
- Be courteous and helpful to fellow birders
- Enjoy sharing the findings and be willing to pass on tips and sightings to fellow birders
Bird-Watching Etiquette - Teaching Your Child To Respect Birds
Your child needs to understand that birdwatchers are visitors in birds’ natural habitats, so being courteous and respectful with both their feathered friends and fellow enthusiasts essential. Some things that you may want your child to keep in mind are.
Where Can We Bird Watch In India?
With over 1200 species of birds owing to its varied climate and topography, India is a surely a paradise for birdwatchers. Here are some of the best places your child can visit once he progresses in his bird watching hobby.
- Jim Corbett National Park, Uttaranchal
- Overa Wildlife Sanctuary - Pahalgam, Jammu, Kashmir
- Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary - Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
- Kaundinya Bird Sanctuary - Chittor, Andhra Pradesh
- Chilika , in Orissa
- Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary - Kottayam, Kerala
- Thattekad Bird Sanctuary - Kothamangalam, Kerala
Bird watching needn’t only be about making special outings involving field guides and binoculars. It can be as simple as your little explorer chasing birds at the park, or chatting with them in your backyard or you joining your child in mimicking his favourite birds! It allows your child to see some of God’s most beautiful creations by getting in tune with nature.
Does your child love birds? Have you taken him bird-watching? Share your experience with us in the comments section!
| Nov 14, 2017
very useful blog , it's definitely a hobby for lifetime. will try developing it in my children .thanks Sreelakshmi for this comprehensive blog with such amazing details.
| Dec 24, 2012
Bird watching is a relaxing and calming outdoor activity both for the parent and child. thanks for the informative blog, will use this information in planning an upcoming vacation.
| Dec 24, 2012
Bird watching is not something I have done with my child in a long time, thanks for the fresh thought Sreelakshmi! Also, thanks for the list of bird sanctuaries, always helps to get all relevant information at one place...
| Dec 21, 2012
Interesting blog Sreelakshmi. Bird watching can indeed be made a hobby for a child. There are so many types of beautiful birds and it is unlikely that we will see most of them in our lifetime! Making it a hobby is a great way to learn and know more about this beautiful species.