Just yesterday I watched a busy robin plucking out tasty worms from the wet grass in our backyard while an industrious chipmunk was by her side washing his cute little face. It got me thinking about birdwatching. I've done a bit here and there; my friends and family will remember my fascination -bordering on obsession - with the hummingbirds at my feeder last year. I've never really been a birdwatcher per se (assuming Angry Birds doesn't count).
I did a quick search at the library today, and online, and came up with an impressive selection of books, journals and games that you can use with your families (or your students) if you want to venture out to look for and listen to birds this spring. I'm not a pro, but I'd imagine you'll need some binoculars and a birding hat, just to make it official!
This picture book, by Annette LeBlanc Cate is wonderfully written, and creatively illustrated. I knew I'd enjoy it when I saw the funny text bubbles on each page. It appears that even birds ask their moms to remove the crusts from their bread! But don't be fooled, this isn't just a lighthearted look at birds. Cate consulted with Jim Barton, a veteran birder associated with the Boston office of the Audubon Society. The result is a kid-friendly look at bird identification/classification, migration, shapes, colors, feathers, habitats and more.
Although "An Egg is Quiet" also contains illustrations of insect eggs as well as birds, it's definitely worth reviewing as part of your birding adventure. We have this book on our shelf at home. If you aren't familiar with Dianna Hutts Aston / Syliva Long's collaborations, you need to be. These books are lyrically written and provide some of the most detailed nature drawings I've seen in children's picture books.
It can also be fun to identify the nests, as well as the birds and the eggs. This "Take-along-guide" is a perfect resource for just that!
Let us not forget the "fathers" of birdwatching! As many of you know, we have Audubon and Peterson to thank for their efforts in drawing and cataloging birds. These two picture books provide excellent, child-friendly introductions to their work and legacies.
Once you're out on the hunt for birds, you'll want to record your findings, and these two journals would be perfect for children to keep track of the variety of birds they see.
Bingo anyone? This game looks like fun! I've not actually seen it, so I cannot comment on its quality. It did receive high reviews on Amazon.
And, last but not least... One of the things that I think would make birdwatching especially fun would be having an app that can identify birdsongs - like having a birdcall version of Shazam! (the song ID app). It appears that this technology isn't too far off, but not yet available this spring. Here's a link to an article that I found on the topic:
If you decide to birdwatch, leave a comment and let me know what types of birds are common in your area. If you're an avid birdwatcher, suggest additional resources that may be of interest.