There are thousands of bird species around the world from birds of prey to game, waterfowl, and garden birds. Birds are great seed spreaders and pollinators. They are also helpful in keeping the insect population under control. Birds enchant us with their lovely songs and kids enjoy watching them fly about. It’s not too difficult to get kids interested in learning about birds as they are oftentimes already fascinated by them.
For the Birds
All birds require three thingsfood, water, and shelter. Provide these three elements in the garden, and the birds will come. Creating a welcoming garden for birds is easy to do and a great way to teach kids about birds. Food can come from berry-producing plants as well as nectar and pollen-producing flowers. A variety of plant life also encourages insects, which is a bird’s most important food source. A variety of bird feeders located in the garden can provide birds with supplemental food, especially during winter when other food sources are scarce.
Since different birds require different types of food, be sure to include different birdseeds, suet, and sugar water for hummingbirds. Birdbaths provide an excellent source of water for both drinking and bathing. Many birds will often stop by for a quick drink or bath during migration before resuming their flight. This allows kids a rare opportunity to study and learn about unusual, non-native bird species. Besides having a variety of birdhouses that attract different types of species, shelter for many birds includes plant diversity, from low-growing plants and flowers to shrubs and trees. Brush piles, dead trees and logs, and old buildings can also provide birds with adequate shelter.
Once all the necessary requirements are present in the garden, allow kids to observe the different birds that come to visit. Keep a bird resource book nearby with pictures and information about the native bird species in your area as well as those from other places. You never know, an unexpected visit from a migratory bird is always possible. Having a pair of binoculars handy is another good way to study birds. This gives kids a chance to watch them perform their everyday routines, from plucking worms from the ground to collecting items for nest building, all from a safe distance, without disturbing the birds. Find pictures of birds to print and let the kids color the ones they see in the garden. Keeping the kids involved with cleaning and filling birdfeeders and birdbaths, as well as helping with birdhouse construction, will help to encourage further learning about birds. This is also a good tool for teaching kids about the different types of birds living in your area.
Birds of a Feather Flock Together
Collecting bird feathers is a great way to teach kids about birds. Go for nature walks with the kids and collect various feathers along the way. Let them guess what bird each belongs to. Discuss bird facts using feathers as a teaching aid. For instance, the shape of their wings and feathers affects their ability to fly. The broad wings of hawks enable them to soar through the air nearly effortlessly. There is often little need for them to flap their wings. Hummingbirds, however, are much smaller and flap their wings 50 to 70 times per second. This happens so fast that they seldom ever land but rather hover in the air like a helicopter. Most garden birds flap their wings much slower but faster than the larger birds of prey, averaging flying speeds of 20 to 30 mph.
Feathers are not only responsible for flight but also for insulation against weather and water. Male birds tend to have fancier and brighter colored feathers to attract females for mating. Female birds, on the other hand, have duller colors because they usually stay closer to the nest and must blend into their surroundings in order to protect their young from predators. Take a trip to a local bird sanctuary or aviary to let kids see the many different bird species and the colors of their feathers. Explain the meanings of bird rhymes or sayings, such as “birds of a feather flock together.” Birds of a particular type will often travel together in flocks during migration. Another fun activity for kids is counting the birds they see. Let them try to guess the type of bird and other facts about it.
Cool Bird Facts While the most common bird in the world is the domestic chicken, the European House Sparrow is thought to be the most commionly seen and widespread bird in the world. This bird was first introduced to various parts of the world by European settlers and can now be found nearly everywhere including Europe, North America, India, Australia, and New Zealand.