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Birding with Children

Tips on Getting Started

American RobinIt's strange that many American children know the animals of Africa, but not the birds of their own land.

Introduce your kids to the American robin, and they'll have a friend to enjoy forever.

Where do we start?

American GoldfinchSome of the best birdwatching is in your own back yard. In most places, our feathered neighbors include the American goldfinch. Many other colorful birds are there to see every day. It's easy to learn the birds that live around you.

What do we need?

You'll need only two things to start watching birds. Book and binoculars. See the column at right.

Watch birds with your children. You'll be giving them a lifetime ticket to the theater of nature.

Backyard Bird WalkTake a Backyard Bird Walk We think kids will adopt this book and make it theirs. It's designed to be carried along on a walk of discovery in a kid's own back yard. It has pages to write in, and pictures of birds a kid is likely to find close to home.

Backyard Bird Walk teaches kids how to find and observe birds' nests without harming them. It shows how to tell what a bird eats by looking at its bill and tells how to help an injured bird.

This is the best book we've seen for getting a kid interested in birds and nudging the child's natural interest in the outdoors. It's an ideal resource for home schooling. By Jane Kirkland, who is a great resource for parents and teachers who want to bird with kids.

Paperback, 32 pages. For kids 8 and up

We recommend the Eagle Optics Energy Binoculars as good, surprisingly inexpensive starters. Now comes in four colors, Moon, Sun, Star, and Ocean (green). We don't know of any other binocular this good for such a low price.


Turkey VultureBinoculars let you see the birds up close. They let you see details like the silvery underside of the turkey vulture's wing when the giant bird glides overhead.

You don't have to spend a lot on binoculars to let your children experience the beauty of birds.

Nice for a family. If you can swing it, we recommend that each person should have her or his own binoculars. It's much more fun to look at a bird together when you can both see it!

A book ("field guide") will help you learn the birds' names. It's like having an expert by your side so you'll know what you're seeing.

Beginner's Guide EastThere are lots of good field guides. (See our complete selection.) The ones we like best for kids and beginners are by Stokes. There's one for the Eastern US and another for Western US.

Beginner's Guide WestThese two books include the birds that a beginning birder is likely to see. That really makes it simple to get started.

You can also range out into the countryside and spot birds wherever you go. Or plan special trips to see thrilling birds of prey like the bald eagle.

  Want to see what kids can do?
Here's a nice birdwatching site that Robbie, a 15-year old kid, is making.
Check it out!

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