The inspiration for this suggestion comes from a lovely book I was given by my friends over at Destination Nature.
They recently published a book called "The Kids' Outdoor Adventure Book" which is filled with ideas and activities for kids to do on their own, with friends, or with family members. There are suggestions for kids of all ages, but I'd say most run toward the interests and abilities of older elementary-aged kids. I was invited to participate in their virtual book tour, and I'm happy to help spread the word. It's a really fun book.
Why I love this suggestion, to feed birds up close, is that being the "outdoorsy type" I'm always so focused on getting out the door! Whatever we can do, we can do it outside, right? Well, yes...but...this suggestion to put up bird feeders and then watch as the birds (and squirrels) come to enjoy seeds? -a great reminder of how we can bring nature "in" without leaving home.
We have a lovely pine tree right outside our sunroom/office window, and we just purchased a great big feeder. I haven't had birdfeeders up in years, believe it or not, so I'm really excited to get this one set up and watch as the birds come. I have a selection of field guides that are easy to use, and a set of binoculars at the ready. Tomorrow we'll head out with a bag of safflower, fill it up, and wait. I know it might take several days to a few weeks for the birds to get the idea, but we're pretty patient, and the anticipation is half the fun, and our shared delight in seeing the first visitors will be worth the wait!
I'm not a "hard core" birder-although for a while I sure was (I still remember vividly the day I added my first -and only-Northern Beardless Tyrannulet to my life list!) --if my children ask or show an interest in identifying the birds, I'll certainly reach for the field guides and help them learn to identify the birds. But at this point, what I'm hoping to inspire is curiosity, delight, and amazement. I want to follow my childrens' lead. What do they find interesting about birds? What do they notice about the way different birds eat, fly, interact with each other? We might make some observational drawings, snap a few digital photos, or just watch quietly.
Back my days of working as a park naturalist, I was in charge of stocking, cleaning, and maintaining many bird feeders near the nature center. I loved seeing children and their parents or caregivers sitting, eyes locked on the feeders, watching the birds eat. It's relaxing and exciting to watch birds at a feeder. I remember how the children would gasp when a pileated woodpecker would hang on the feeder, or a frantic cloud of chickadees would sweep in. And the hummingbirds! Seeing a hummingbird at a feeder is still a thrill for me.
Bird feeders! How did I forget about this?