Birding, also known as bird-watching, is a fun activity for kids and adults of all ages.
Birding for Kids! Children will love this list of bird-watching activities and lessons for kids from toddlers to teens. Watching and observing birds of many different feathers is an educational outdoor wildlife activity for young and old alike.
Birdwatching is a great way to study nature at home and in the wild. Invite children to observe birds with the naked eye or with binoculars and telescopes to discover the wonderful world of birds in the air, on land, and in water.
Both kids and adults love to observe and identify birds for fun and to learn more about them. Scroll down to find a list of birding or birdwatching activities and lessons for preschoolers, kindergarteners, elementary-aged kids, tweens, teens–and adults too! You might also enjoy this list of Outside Learning Activities for Kids.
Birding for Kids
Birdwatching is a great way to study nature in the backyard, local, national, and state parks, and nature reserves. Kids and adults love observing and identifying birds to learn more about them, and birding can become a lifelong hobby that has many educational rewards.
This list of bird-watching activities and lessons for kids can help children learn about birds and increase their knowledge about the many types or species of birds native to their environment and the world beyond.
Another benefit of birding for kids is that the best bird watching happens outdoors. In other words, this list of birding activities can help get kids outside to create a connection with the natural world and the secrets that it shares. It can also allow children to take charge of their education as they search for the answers to the questions that matter most to them.
Related: Get Outside and Connect
Use this list of birdwatching activities to get started with birding in your backyard and your local area. One of the best times to watch local birds is late winter and early spring–because most birds migrate north to return home and can be seen performing mating rituals.
I had a great time watching two male mockingbirds compete for the affections of a lady mockingbird out my office window one spring morning. But any day is an excellent day for birdwatching! As a bonus, many birding activities make it easy to add literacy, math, and science into a child’s education at home or in the classroom.
Related: Nature Study for Kids
Bird Watching Supplies for Kids:
Here’s an essential list of birding supplies for kids and young birders with the latest and greatest bird-watching basics. We recommend starting with at least one field journal, and one of the birdwatching items from each bullet point on the list below. Once you have collected a pair of binoculars and some other necessary birding supplies for kids, grab a few more birding resources from the second list of bird watching supplies for kids. We are constantly updating this “birding for kids” post with the newest educational birding books and reference guides for children from toddlers to teens–and the adults that act as their teachers and guides.
Must-have birding supplies for kids:
Choose at least one item from each itemized bullet point.
- Real birding binoculars for kids, compact binoculars, or monocular telescope
- Peterson Field Guide to Birds or Wildlife Guide or The Sibley Guide to Birds
- Birdwatching log, Beginning Birdwatcher’s Book, nature journal or another children’s bird watching logbook or bird log to record birding experiences in the backyard and wild spaces.
- Colored pencils, watercolor pencils, or a portable watercolor set
A few more of our FAVORITE bird-watching supplies and learning resources for kids:
- Burgess Bird Book for Children – Learn about birds through creative storytelling and the adventures of Peter Rabbit with this bird book for children of all ages (including the young at heart)!
- What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World by Jon Young
- Bird Language Basics DVD by Jon Young
- National Geographic Kids: Bird Guide of North America – A birding book for kids from National Geographic’s bird experts.
- Birds, Nests & Eggs – “A fun and informative take-along guide that will help children learn to identify 15 birds, and it features a few bird activities that are fun and easy to do.”
- What’s it Like to Be a Bird – “A bird book for birders and nonbirders alike that will excite and inspire by providing a new and deeper understanding of what common, mostly backyard, birds are doing—and why!”
- Sibley’s Birding Basics is a comprehensive and beautifully illustrated guide to identifying birds in the field. This book is an essential companion for birders of all skill and experience levels.
- Backyard Birding for Kids: An Introduction to Ornithology (Simple Introductions to Science) – With bird facts, an identification guide, and how-to instructions, this is a perfect children’s introduction to bird-watching.
- Backyard Birding Flashcards – 100 Common Birds of Eastern and Western North America
Related: Best Nature Study Supplies for Kids
11 Educational Birding Activities for Kids
Birding, also known as bird watching, is a great way to get kids outside to learn and have fun. Use this round-up of birding activities to spark a child’s interest in nature and science, and lead them to ask even more questions about the big wide world that surrounds them.
Invite children to observe bird behavior in their backyard, schoolyard, neighborhood, or park with these fun birdwatching activities for kids (and adults!). Start by watching birds in your yard. Next, head out into your local community by visiting parks and nature reserves. Finally, encourage children to record their observations in nature journals or birding logs.
1. Enjoy Backyard Birdwatching
Bird-watching is a great way to study nature in your backyard! Our family loves watching various birds in our yard and garden. We call out to the sparrows, finches, jays, mockingbirds, warblers, chickadees, and other birds we see from our windows when we spy on them in our birdfeeders, and we even call some by name.
Backyard bird-watching is a fun activity for all ages. Both kids and adults love to observe birds and learn more about them. Choose from any of the fun birding activities listed below to get started!
Educators and their students can also do many backyard birdwatching activities for kids in the schoolyard, a nearby meadow, hiking trail, pond, or at the local park if you don’t have a backyard or patio that will work.
2. Make Your Backyard Bird-Friendly
One of the best ways to bring birds into your backyard or onto your patio, and help them thrive, is to create a bird-friendly environment or habitat. Making or providing backyard bird feeders, standing or hanging birdbaths, and birdhouses are easy to make your backyard or patio more bird-friendly. Our bird friends prefer the hanging platform or tray bird feeders, and our hummingbird friends love our red glass hummingbird feeder. A few more recommendations are on the list below.
Best Hanging Tray Birdfeeders and Birdbaths:
- Hanging Tray Feeder Platform (Mesh)
- Mini Modern Fly-Through Hanging Bird Feeder with Covered Roof & Aluminum Mesh Seed Tray
- Hanging Solar Powered Bird Bath or Bird Feeder for Outside
Another simple way to bring birds into your backyard is with native plants, colorful flowers, or a garden filled with trees and plants that help birds thrive. Learn how to make your backyard bird-friendly with THESE helpful tips from The Audubon Society.
How to Get Certified as a Wildlife Habitat
Another bird-friendly option is to certify your backyard, patio, or garden as a wildlife habitat with the National Wildlife Federation. Have a look at THIS informative guide to get started today!
Anyone can create a welcoming haven for local wildlife. Turning your yard, balcony container garden, schoolyard, work landscape, or roadside greenspace into a Certified Wildlife Habitat® is fun, easy, and can make a lasting difference for wildlife.The National Wildlife Federation
3. Learn to Identify Birds
Learning to identify birds is a fun outdoor learning activity for kids from preschoolers to teens. Have you ever heard the question, “What’s that bird?” Or, if you have ever wondered about the birds in your neighborhood, it’s time to invest in a pair of birding binoculars and a good bird book to help children try this fun birding activity.
My daughter loves to grab her birding binoculars each time she sees a bird in the backyard. We have learned to keep them near the back door to avoid the disappointment of the bird being gone by the time she returns.
Teaching yourself how to identify birds is one of the best ways to learn more about them. This birding activity can keep children busy for hours as they attempt to identify the birds they see and look up the birds they don’t know in a bird field guide.
Don’t forget to take birding binoculars, a monocular telescope, and a birding field guide (or two) when you head to the park, nature reserve, or out on a hike into the great outdoors.
The National Audubon Society has an online guide to help children identify birds that you can find HERE. All about birds also has an excellent online bird guide that you can find HERE. In addition, a few of our favorite bird books and birding field guides for kids and adults are on the list below. (A few of these are included in our recommended basic birding supplies and our favorite birdwatching supplies and learning resources for kids.)
Birding Books and Field Guides for Children and Adults:
- Wildlife Guide – Birds and butterflies, ferns and frogs, mushrooms and manta rays, seashells and salamanders—this fantastic book includes more than 2,000 plants and animals of all types and is a beautiful all-around essential field guide for kids.
- Burgess Bird Book for Children – Parents, teachers, and young readers worldwide enjoy learning about birds with this classic nature book featuring Peter Cottontail and his many feathered friends. Learn all about the life and habits of several varieties of birds in this book about birds for kids. In this book, information about different bird families is written like a chapter book and told in the form of a story. (I recommend reading one chapter aloud to children daily as a part of your homeschool education. Next, read the Burgess Animal Book or the Burgess Seashore Book for Children–it’s a fantastic educational series for young and old alike.)
- Birds, Nests & Eggs – “A fun and informative take-along guide that will help children learn to identify 15 birds, and it features a few bird activities that are fun and easy to do.”
- Peterson Field Guide to Birds – For decades, the Peterson birding guides have been the trusted guide for birders of all levels, thanks to its unparalleled illustrations and famous system of identification.
- Backyard Birds (Field Guides for Young Naturalists) – This birding book is designed for the beginner. It features the original art of celebrated naturalist Roger Tory Peterson and incorporates the Peterson Identification System–the most effective method for bird identification.
- The Sibley Guide to Birds – Used by millions of birders across the globe, from novices to the most advanced, “The Sibley Guide has become the standard by which natural history guides are measured.”
- National Audubon Society Birds of North America – This comprehensive birding resource is considered the most comprehensive and authoritative guide to the birds of North America. It includes the latest information on conservation status and the effects of climate change. From the world’s most trusted name in birding, Audubon’s Guide is beloved by millions of backyard bird enthusiasts and birding experts worldwide.
4. Backyard Bird Watching Observation Activity
here’s a simple bird observation page to help young naturalists record the birds they see—> HERE. This colorful birding page can help you record the number of birds you observe each day and is a fun and educational birding activity for kids.
The bird observation page has the days of the week on the left. First, write the names of the most common birds you see in your backyard, or local park, in the columns at the top. Next, spend the week counting the birds you observe by marking in the space provided.
Count the number of birds correctly identified at the end of the week and record the number of birds you saw in a nature journal or bird log. Or, use a three-hole paper punch to punch holes in the printable bird log and put the page in a homemade nature notebook.
5. Participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count
The great backyard bird count is held annually in the second week of February. People worldwide come together each year to watch, learn about, count, and celebrate birds. And, it’s easy to join the bird counting fun!
Join The Birdcounting Citizen Science Project
The next backyard bird count is on February 17-20, 2023. Learn more about this fun birding event–> HERE.
6. Name that Bird by Birdcall or Song
Encourage children to learn to identify the bird birdcalls of the species of birds that live in your area. Learning bird calls and songs is a great way to identify birds that hide in dense foliage and birds that come out at night. This birdcall identification activity can also help children and adults learn to identify birds that look alike but may not sound alike. A few fantastic bird language books for use at home, outdoors, or in the classroom are on the list below.
Books, Audio, and DVDs with Bird Language Basics:
- What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World
- Bird Language Groups with Jon Young DVD
- Sibley’s Birding Basics: How to Identify Birds, Using the Clues in Feathers, Habitats, Behaviors, and Sounds
- Bird Songs: 250 North American Birds in Song
Click–> to HEAR 50 common bird species and their sounds! And, learn more about how to identify bird songs and calls–including five essential tips for beginners–> HERE. Or, learn a few fun mnemonics for typical birdsongs with the National Audubon Society–> HERE.
Even Toddlers Can Learn to Identify Birdcalls!
Babies and toddlers love to imitate the sounds they hear from a young age and, thus, like to echo the bird sounds, bird calls, and bird songs they hear in the natural world around them. Learn bird language basics with the resource guides listed in the section above.
Our daughter’s favorite bird sound to imitate is, of course, the woodpecker. She loves to exclaim rat-tat-tat-tat each time she hears or sees one pecking at a tree with its beak. She also enjoys coo-oo cooing gently with doves, squawking with blue jays, cawing at crows, hooting at owls, and quacking around with the local ducks.
The little one showed us that she could correctly identify geese honking in the sky from a great distance when she was only two years old! While out on a walk, she exclaimed, “geese!” I said, “What?” She loudly repeated, “GEESE!” I was about to squash her excitement and tell her that there were no geese. Then, suddenly, I heard a faint honking in the sky!
We looked directly over our heads and saw a perfect “V” of geese so high I was shocked that she even heard them. She accurately identified what they were by the sound of their bird call, and she also heard them honking through the sky long before I did. They were so high up; I had to pick her up in my arms and lay her horizontally so that she could see them! It was a proud mama and daughter birding moment we thoroughly enjoyed.
7. Birding Scavenger Hunt Ideas
Grab your nature study supplies and head outside to try one of these fun bird scavenger hunts with the kids.
Bird Counting Scavenger Hunt
You can do this birding scavenger hunt in two different ways. Either count the number of bird species you can identify by sight or sound for the day, such as the number of wrens, goldfinches, cardinals, jays, or robins you see–or hear. Or, add the number of birds you see or hear to the total number of birds you have seen of each species in your birdwatching or nature journal.
Find That Bird Scavenger Hunt
Is there a bird you would love to see but haven’t yet? Then, head out on a scavenger hunt to find the bird, or birds, that continue to illude you with this fun bird-seeking activity. First, research the bird’s favorite habitat, food, and waking and sleep patterns. Next, head out on an adventure in search of that bird!
Bird Feather Scavenger Hunt
Head out in search of feathers in your backyard, neighborhood, or a nature hunt in the great outdoors. Next, challenge the kids to use a bird field guide or a book titled Bird Feathers: A Guide to North American Species to identify which bird each feather came from.
Record the types of bird feathers you find; keep them in a vase on your nature table, or put them in a pocket or pencil pouch dedicated to bird feathers in your nature journal. We also like to put a few of our favorite feathers into a vase on our nature table.
Related: Nature Sensory Bin Scavenger Hunt
8. Draw or Paint Birds
Another fun birding activity for kids, and a great way to learn more about them, is to spend time drawing or painting them.
Drawing and painting birds can help anyone learn more about them. Try any of the “How to Draw Birds” books on the list below. We love and recommend “The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds,” it’s a favorite in our homeschool art room.
Best Books About How to Draw Birds:
- The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds
- How to Draw Amazing Birds from Songbirds to Birds of Prey
- How to Draw Birds: A Step-by-Step Guide for Realistic Drawing Projects
- Drawing: Birds: Learn to draw step by step (How to Draw & Paint)
9. Take Pictures of Birds
Taking a picture of a bird makes it possible to use a birding field guide to figure out what it is later instead of attempting to identify an unfamiliar bird in the wild.
So, if birding is an activity you or your children enjoy, consider investing in photography lessons and a good camera with a telephoto lens or a cell phone camera lens kit. You may find that you want to capture pictures of your bird friends, the birds you meet along the way, and rare captures worthy of the birding photography wall.
10. Make a Birds Nest Birding Activity for Kids
Creating a bird’s nest is a fun STEAM challenge for kids preschool age and up. Invite children to make a bird’s nest as a fun and educational birding activity for kids.
First, encourage children to head outside, searching for items a bird would use to make a nest. You might want to remind the kids that many birds don’t build their nests in trees, and some don’t build a nest at all. So, please encourage them to think creatively before starting this nest-building activity.
Next, invite them to use the natural materials they collect to make a bird’s nest. Nest building is a self-motivated activity for our daughter; she has been making bird nests from nature’s scraps since she was a toddler. One of her many nests is pictured below. She has also fashioned a few nests in hollow logs and some great ground nests in clumps of tall grass over the years.
11. Study a Bird or Species of Birds
Once children become interested in birding and all the birds they hear and see around them, a great way to extend their learning is to study a particular bird or species of birds.
Spend time observing it in its natural habitat, look it up in your birding books and field guides, head to the library searching for information, and do a google search for fun ways to learn more. “When we follow our children’s interests, they are much more interested in learning.”
My daughter was very fond of her fowl chicken friends during her toddler years and spent a lot of time playing with them and tending to the ten hens we had free-ranging in our backyard and garden. She helped collect eggs every morning, gave them food and water, and was even known to hand them bugs to eat and point out the vegetation she knew they enjoyed eating. Hatching chicks and tending a small flock of chickens is a great educational birding activity for homeschoolers–give it a try!
Educational Birding Resources for Children
A few more excellent educational birding resources for children are listed below.
Educational Birding Games and Activities for Children Bundle
Study birds with children while playing games, working on crafts, completing STEM challenges, and doing other hands-on activities at home, or in the classroom, with THIS educational birding bundle for kids from Adventure in a Box. With the bundle, the students can explore:
- Birds’ plumage and dimorphism in birds
- The diversity of the birds, as well as their distinctive features
- Birds’ eggs and parenting habits
- 48 different species of bird
- Birds’ houses and engineering skills
The combination of pictures, icons, and limited language in most games and activities within the birding bundle makes the lesson plans suitable for preschool through middle school children. Enjoy exploring the world of birds at home, or in the classroom, with THIS fun and educational birding bundle for kids!
Birding Lessons and Learning Activities for Kids
Learn more about birds, their habitats, and much more with lessons tailored to students from Kindergarten through 12th grade from The Cornell Lab.
From free curricula to all-inclusive kits, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a wide variety of lessons and activities to captivate learners of all grade levels.The Cornell Lab
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