Tip #1: Kids love a present. Give the child a pair of binoculars and a journal. These items can help a child feel like a professional and immerse them in the experience of spying and recording the birds they see. Older kids can use real ones and small children will feel that they are participating with a sturdy toy pair of binoculars. The child can draw and/or write the name of the bird they see. Another option is a camera for a slightly older child to record their finds. This way they can go home and look up the bird to find out what they have seen.
Tip #2: Get them Reading. Head out to the library and pick up some books on birds. Reading about birds and identifying birds and nests in books will help prepare the child for the activity. Bed time reading is one of the best ways to set up for a fantastic birding experience.
Tip #3: Make it a sure thing. Take the kids to places where you are sure to see birds. Flamingo Gardens in Davie is just a short 20 minute drive from Fort Lauderdale and has a huge aviary with many wonderful South Florida waterfowl. It is a marvelous place to be guaranteed to see lots of birds.
Tip #4: Bring a few Pictures. State Park and County Park websites usually have lists of the Flora and Fauna that are available in the parks so you can make sure to choose pictures that the children will be able to find. White Ibis, Heron, Brown Pelican, Wood Stork, Cormorant, and Common Moore Hen are likely to be found at most wetland parks. All of these can be seen at the aviary in Flamingo Gardens. Google Image can be used to find pictures of these birds. Print them out and tape them into the child’s journal to be checked off as the child finds them.
Tip #5: Join the Audubon. The Audubon of Broward County meet conveniently at Fern Forest in Margate, and can offer a chance to learn more about South Florida birds. Some parents think they have to be good birders in order to enjoy the activity with their children. The truth is kids will enjoy learning about birds right alongside their parents.
The Burgess Bird Book for Children
Thornton W Burgess
Birds, Nests, & Eggs
About Birds: A Guide for Children
Backyard Birds (Peterson Field Guides for Young Naturalists)
Jonathan Latimer, Karen Stray Nolting, and Roger Tory Peterson
The Young Birder’s Guide to Birds of Eastern North America (Peterson Field Guides)
Bill Thompson, III and illustrated by Julie Zickfoose