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Birding Is For The Birds: Teaching Kids to Appreciate Florida’s Native Bird Population

This week’s blog activity is devoted to the bird species of Central Florida, and more importantly to the hobby of birding.  Birding is a very simple pastime requiring only a quiet, natural place, binoculars, a camera and the internet (for identifying the birds that you don’t know).  Today, your family’s naturalist notebook activity will incorporate birding with a follow up craft to be able to attract birds to your own back yard!

For those of you that are looking for a location, other than your own back yard for observing birds, I highly recommend Mead Botanical Gardens.  They are located on 1300 S. Denning Drive in Winter Park, Florida.  They have a bird guide and checklist on their website that can assist you as you view the birds.  Download and print it out at:  http://www.meadgarden.org/programs/birding-checklist .

A Few Tips to increase the likelihood you and your children will see birds:

Early is better, the birds are out foraging and hunting.  Last week, while doing summer camp at Mead Gardens we saw a hawk and a barred owl flying around at about 830a.m.!

Quiet is key!  Birds scare easily, so adopt a no talking policy while hunting for birds.

What You Will Need:

Birding Field Trip:

Binoculars

Camera

Pencil

Naturalist Notebook

Snacks and water

Sunscreen

Hat

Sunglasses

Make Your Own Bird Feeder:

Empty juice carton

Acrylic or oil paints

Paint brushes

Scissors

Marker

Ribbon

Single hole puncher

Mesh bags

Bird Seed

Glue

Instructions:

Field Trip

You can choose any location you want for your birding field trip.  Then follow these easy steps:

1.  Have your camera and naturalist notebook handy.

2.  Walk around looking for birds, search the trees and the ground especially around a body of water (Florida has A LOT of wading birds, they might be fishing!).

3.  Once you find a specimen, snap its picture or sit down and put your drawing skills to the test.  If you choose the drawing option, this becomes page two of your naturalist notebook (for page one see last week’s blog post).

4.  If you took pictures, go home and print them out, then paste them into your naturalist notebook and hop on the internet to try and identify your birds, write the name of the bird species beside each photo.

Juice Carton Bird Feeder

The night or day before:

1.  Assemble supplies.

2.  Rinse out your juice carton and let it dry.

3.  Prime it with a base color of paint, depending on the colors on the carton you may need to use a darker color.

4.  Cut out holes on each side of the milk carton (see image).

After  the birding trip.

5.  Paint your carton with a colorful and attractive design (you might want to paint it a color that blends in with the environment like green or brown) Parents, you can teach children about camouflage during this activity as well!

6.  Fill the mesh bag full of bird seeds.

7.  Punch a hole through the top edge of the carton and string through your ribbon or hanger material.

8.  Go outside and hang up in a spot and wait for your birds to show up. When they do, you can sketch or photograph them and add them to your naturalist notebook too!

posted by samantha in Education Advice,Parenting Tips and have Comment (1)

One comment

  1. Comment by Vanessa on August 1, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    Great tips! I just wanted to say Kaia and I had a very fun time at SaturYea this past weekend. Thank you!

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