Be Your Own Birder

Backyard Birding for Kids

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  • Author: Fran Lee
  • Publisher: Gibbs Smith
  • Publication Date: 2005
  • Pages: 64

Be Your Own Birder’s Thoughts

Kids have many indoor distractions – video games, cell phones, tablets, electronic toys, hundreds of television channels – but Backyard Birding For Kids: A Field Guide & Activities is just the book to get them outdoors and exploring nature. Part activity book, part informational resource, and part field guide, this book has everything kids need to get started birding in just 64 pages.

The durable and securely bound pages, large font, and colorful graphics will appeal to young eyes, and the different tips and projects are easily implemented. This book is geared toward the most novice of birdwatchers, and will provide a good beginning for young readers just discovering birds.

The activity sections of Backyard Birding For Kids offer fun and fast projects using inexpensive materials to help young birders discover the birds in their yard. Projects include:

  • How to make a pine cone bird feeder
  • A hummingbird nectar recipe
  • Instructions for a simple homemade nectar feeder
  • Instructions for a simple nesting shelf
  • Growing and harvesting sunflower seeds
  • Making a simple bird bath and dripper
  • Sketching birds and designing a bird watching notebook
  • Start a bird-watching club

Simple materials lists, instructions, and tips are included for each project, though some do require adult supervision.

As an informational resource, Backyard Birding For Kids provides a surprisingly comprehensive overview of birding. Not only are tips and suggestions for equipment included, but the parts of a bird and bird wing parts diagrams will help young birders start identifying birds right away by learning the proper field marks and terminology. Birding ethics, habitat descriptions, and tips for how to go birding are all included, as is a list of state birds and very brief biographies of John James Audubon and Roger Tory Peterson.

The field guide sections of this book are divided into the most familiar habitats that kids can explore, including cities, woodlands, wetlands, deserts, and more. Each section includes a very basic habitat overview, followed by the most common birds in those habitats. A total of 43 species are detailed, with 13 in the urban habitat and six each for the remaining habitats. Because of these small numbers, some common species are missing, but those included do give young birders a taste of the variety of birds they may see in different areas.

Each brief profile includes the bird’s common name, some behavior clues, basic size information, and occasional trivia. Bird drawings are highly stylized and lack fine details, but do provide an accurate representation of enough prominent field marks to make identification possible. Only male birds of dimorphic species are represented, however, and no range maps are included to clarify exactly where birds may be seen.

Though by no means a definitive resource, Backyard Birding For Kids: A Field Guide & Activities will whet a young reader’s appetite for all types of birds. With easy activities, useful tips, and a colorful design sure to appeal to young readers, this book is a great way to get kids involved in birding and foster a lifelong love of the feathered kind.

Worth Reading? Yes – 9.5/10!

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