My son Batman loves birds, and so last year I set out to create a bird watching station in our house. It was super easy to set up and since I did that a year ago my kids ability to recognize different birds has gone through the roof. It seemed a good time to share this with birds migrating South for the winter right now and we are seeing different birds traveling right now.
What you need to create a bird watching station, identification materials
First you need a window with some empty space nearby that overlooks your backyard or any area birds might gather. In our house this window is in the breakfast area, which has been transformed into a game area.
Next find a local nature guide. I like the Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America*and Backyard Birds (Field Guides for Young Naturalists)* for general finding and portability. But our coolest find of all is the Lyric Identiflyer* which when you press the button next to the bird plays the bird song for you (and much to my happiness has a volume control) and Birds iView Window Clings*, I particularly love the window clings because the kids don’t have to find the page the bird is on as they look through the window.
When you combine those two items together my kids’ identification of local birds has shot through the roof. It makes me rather proud to have the kids see a random bird as we’re out walking and be able to identify it.
Now you have a bird watching station, but you need birds
So that gets you some bird identifcation materials, but you also need a way to encourage birds to come to your backyard. For that I’d get a nice bird feeder*, Batman picked this one out at Wal-Mart a few years ago. Birds can fly up on either side, and on the ends are suet feeders, which I’m told attracts a totally different type of bird. We apparently attract very messy birds because they can empty our feeder in a single day, which is quite impressive. My mother-in-law who’s an amateur bird-watcher explained all about how different types of seed attract different birds. At some point I want to add in a Hummingbird Feeder* because I find hummingbirds amusing. I know in theory I could just grow flowers they like, but given my growing skills that will not happen.
I added in a yearly calendar after reading this post talking about their calendar of firsts, and I loved the idea of recording what we saw out the window (in all honesty we’re terrible at keeping it updated, but if you’re good with daily items, then this is the idea for you). Right next to our bird watching station is most of our art supplies, so the kids can draw or write about what they see. But, I’ll be honest, those books have stayed mostly empty because I forget to remind them. Sigh, I’m so horrid at daily items.
After I took the original picture, I added in some pillows I found earlier, and then the kids added in a bug collection jar and a few items from their nature collection sit on the window sill. All in all it’s turning into a right nice place to sit and look out the window.
More resources for nature study
If you’re making a bird watching station, you probably want to get some nature studies started, so here’s some ideas for Backyard Nature Studies.