Back-to-School is for (and with) the Birds
Sep 03, 2020
The new school year is upon us, though it is quite a different experience than in years past. We know learning from home isn’t easy, but you can make it more joyful by taking part of your students’ education outside. There, they will discover and learn about nature in a more meaningful way, and boost spirits in the process.
Feeding backyard birds can be part – and a highlight – of a student’s daily curriculum. The hobby is a natural fit with science lessons, but it also can be used in writing, math, and physical activity. Feeding and watching birds not only helps children develop and improve these skills, it feeds them holistically – soul, body and spirit – and makes learning more enjoyable.
Anyone can take part in this activity – birds are everywhere: backyards, parks, and cities. Birds’ variety – there are more than 9,000 species in the world – turns looking for them and seeing which ones come to visit feeders a treasure hunt.
Birds inspire us to get outside, go for a walk or sit quietly to watch and observe the sights and sounds around us. Kids will soon start spotting details they may not have noticed before: the size and shape of the beak, colors of birds’ feathers, eating habits and personality differences. This helps build observational skills and shows the importance of details in identifying things.
Learning more about the animals that live in our backyards gives children a better understanding and appreciation of the environment and an awareness of the interconnectedness of living things. The hobby may even peak interest in pursuing future study in science, conservation or natural history.
There is a certain thrill in catching sight of a bird, in a shared moment with wildlife. Young birders will experience the excitement of flipping through a field guide or online guide, such as the Merlin app by Cornell Lab of Ornithology, to identify it and begin to build an amazing list of varied bird species. They can keep a journal and “bird list” to record their discoveries, drawing or writing down the characteristics of a bird or even the emotions they experienced as they were watching it. Bird feeding invites further exploration to include habitat, range and migration, diet and feeding behavior, eggs and nesting, and conservation status.
Birds are universal creatures that bridge cultural and geographic barriers, offering connection to everyone in the world. The joy of bird feeding can be shared with family and friends; observing birds is something kids can do outside with others. They could even start a birdwatching club, going on walks together and sharing sightings and tips on where to look for and what to feed birds.
How to Get Started
Wild Bird Centers has bird feeders to fit nearly any backyard set up – they can be mounted on a deck or fence, from a pole on a patio or in a yard, or hung in a tree. With our selection of hooks, poles and brackets, the possibilities are endless. Different feeders attract different birds; our large selection of feeders and seed will attract a wide variety. The key to getting children engaged is to make sure the feeder is easily seen from wherever they hang out.
Getting outside and seeing which birds are in our backyards gives young learners a chance to break from the routine (and the screen!). It is relaxing and can improve the ability to focus. Let the birds do what they do best: entertain, educate and fascinate!