How to get the kids into birding

~ Guest Blogger Fatbirder ~

One of the most frequently asked questions by avid birdwatchers is how to get their children into the pastime. Of course, there is no easy answer and no matter how often you lead the horses to the water, they don’t always want to take a drink! Perhaps lesson one is…. DON’T FORCE IT! Nothing will put kids off more than telling them how great something is. Leading by gentle example is probably the best way. But, don’t forget, we don’t all develop an interest in the natural world, and those of us that do can start at any age.

So, segue into oblique ways to get kids interested in birdwatching:

Bring nature indoors:

Even if your kids don’t enjoy spending time outside, you can still bring nature into your home. Get some indoor plants, start a small aquarium, or hang bird feeders outside your window so you can easily see them. This will allow your kids to observe and learn about different aspects of nature from the comfort of your home.

Expose them to books and nature documentaries:

Reading books with a nature theme will inculcate the natural world without you actually seeming to be an advocate. Watching documentaries about nature can be a great way to spark your kids’ interest, especially when doing something with mum or dad is what your kids most want.

Start a garden:

Starting a small garden in your backyard can be a fun way to introduce your kids to nature. Give them their own tiny plot and allow them to help you with planting, watering, and harvesting the plants. This is also a great opportunity to teach them about the different types of plants and their life cycles. Gardening without chemicals is a must of course so they can see that wild things sharing the cabbages and blueberries is more fun than stamping on bugs. It’s hard to be in the garden and not hear the birds singing. Close encounters with a tame Robin brings delight to even the most tech centre child.

Apps & Field-guides:

Don’t leave that field-guide on the shelf. Leave it where you can see the feeders from the window and point out how you can identify the common birds using the book. Install a bird ID  app on their phones and gently encourage your kids to identify different birds they see.

Sneaky Propaganda:

One fun way to get kids interested in birdwatching without them realising is to incorporate birdwatching activities into other fun outdoor activities. For example, you can plan a scavenger hunt in a park or nature reserve and include bird sightings on the list of things to find. Another idea is to go on a nature hike and encourage the kids to spot and identify different birds along the way. Make sure there are unrelated prizes like chocolate so nature and instant pleasure are associated!

Don’t make nature appreciation the centre of the activity but an incidental… so, for example, a family bike ride is about being together and biking… that it is through nice countryside is a bonus. Having the picnic is the fun activity, but pointing out which birds are calling is the bonus there.

On those long car journeys to see grandma make a game out of who can spot the most different species of birds and other wildlife.

Remember that it’s important to be patient and not force your kids to enjoy nature. Encourage them to explore and learn at their own pace, and let them discover the wonders of nature on their own terms.

Once they show an initial interest, there are many things you can do to encourage your kids to become interested in nature! Here are some ideas:

Record Keeping:

Encourage your kids to keep a bird journal where they can record their observations, drawings, and notes about the birds they see.


Make birdwatching a regular activity and involve your kids in the planning process. Ask them where they would like to go and what birds they would like to see. This will help them develop a sense of ownership and excitement for birdwatching.


You can use technology to make birdwatching more engaging for kids. There are many fun bird-related apps and games that can help kids learn about birds in a fun and interactive way, such as Merlin Bird ID, Birdsnap, and iBird.

One on One:

Kids like to feel they have your undivided attention and spending time alone with one parent is special. The activity is less important than the time together. If you take a child birdwatching and give them your whole attention they will value the whole experience, including the appreciation of nature.

Remember that it’s important to be patient and not force your kids to enjoy nature. Encourage them to explore and learn at their own pace, and let them discover the wonders of nature on their own terms.


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