Bird watching is a great way for children to become aware of birds. Birds can be found anywhere, all year round. Gather the basic gear: a field notebook, a field guide, and binoculars, if you have them, and go outside.
- Info from Iowa Young Birders about birding gear, including selecting binoculars for children and how to teach children use them!
Bird behavior is fascinating to children and adults. Different species have definite and recognizable behaviors. Some bird behaviors are so species-specific that one can identify a bird on location and behavior description alone.
Weekly migration forecasts are available from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s BirdCast project to help you know what to look for and which days to go out. Have kids observe and record what they see in several different habitats and make comparisons.
Wildlife professionals inventory wildlife populations to gather information about the number and kinds of wildlife in a given area. Use Project WILD’s Bird Song Survey to give your students experience inventorying a local bird population.
Apps for Birding with Children
Because of the simple, user-friendly interface, birding becomes both easy and fun. To identify a bird, Merlin first asks five questions – when, where, size, color, and activity of the bird observed. Using eBird data, Merlin then gives the most common species around you who fit the criteria provided. It also provides 1,000+ photo resources, tips from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s expert birders, and bird sounds from the Cornell Lab’s Macaulay Library. Cost: Free for iOS and Android users.
iBird Lite is an interactive guide to 50 bird species of North America and Hawaii, designed for you to sample the iBird family of apps. This innovative eBook contains illustrations, photos, bird calls and comprehensive facts to help you identify and enjoy some of the most popular birds in North America. No internet connection is required once installed. Cost: Free for iOS and Android users.
Song Sleuth turns your iPhone or iPad into an automatic bird song identifier covering the 200 most common vocalizing land birds in the U.S. Developed by Wildlife Acoustics, in collaboration with world-renowned bird expert and illustrator David Sibley, the app records bird songs and suggests likely matching species. The identification algorithms are the result of over a decade of research and experience designing professional bioacoustics recorders and software. Cost: $9.99 for iOS. Check for Android availability.
BirdsEye Bird Finding Guide
Information and population statistics on 1,000+ birds across North America. View seasonal populations, current lists of birds reported near your location and notifications of when rare birds are observed in your area. Open up the “Browse by Location” tab in the app to view checklists that were recently submitted in nearby areas. Cost: Free for iOS and Android users.
Since technology and available apps changes quickly, be sure to search the Google Play Store and / or iTunes for birding apps!
- Birding with Binoculars (opens as PDF)
- Birding with Kids: Choosing a Field Guide (Cornell Lab of Ornithology)
- Bird Song Hero: The Song Learning Game for Everyone
- Field Checklist of Iowa Birds (opens as PDF)
- Observing Birds in the Wild Worksheet (opens as PDF)
- Teaching Bird ID (Cornell Lab of Ornithology)
Cross-reference to this unit for additional information:
- Project WILD – Wildlife Management