Winter bird-watching with kids: Part One
Alas, we bid farewell to Valentine’s Day, but birds dearest, we shan’t forget you.
It’s never too late to show some love and compassion to your backyard wildlife. After all, chickadees, cardinals, nuthatches, sparrows, flickers, and woodpeckers offer a variety of winter bird songs for us. Children can become enraptured by bird calls. Take time to stop during a hike or neighborhood walk to listen to a bluejay’s yell over the trees. You and your child can imitate the call by yelling back, and how amusing it becomes when the blue jay responds with another call. A few other jays may join in the chatter. Then try to spot the white patches on its tail that spreads like a fan as it flies from branch to branch.
The chickadee brings a sweet and consistent chick-a-dee-dee-dee that comes from its favorite spots in thickets and low branches of trees. Your young ornithologist can whimsically sing cup-a-tea-tea-tea in response to the chickadee chirping.
The late winter months of February and March are important times to think about “the need for seed” before any remaining snow storms and the upcoming nesting season. Fill a feeder with Dark Oil Sunflower Seed to attract such backyard visitors as cardinals, nuthatches, juncos, sparrows, and chickadees. Keep a journal or sketchbook for you and your child to sketch or describe the birds that you see at the feeder. Include the date, time, and weather. A pocket bird guide or poster also is handy by a window that views the feeder.
Here's a fabulous printable birding journal from Doodles and Jots for your young birdwatchers to record their finds. It begins with some birds you'd hope to find and ends with plenty of spots for those happy surprises!
This is part one of our three-part Winter Birdwatching with Kids series. Please tune in this week for parts two (great birding activities for kids) and three (wonderful birding children's books).
Northwest Philly Parents is a partnership between Newsworks and Germantown Avenue Parents.