Kid's Activity: Attracting Wild Birds

by Melissa Jaramillo and Julie Snyder

The National Audubon Society was named after John James Audubon and established in 1905. John Audubon was well known for his cataloguing and sketches of North American birds and their habits. Today the Audubon Society is known for conserving nature, protecting wetlands, habitats for wildlife, and preserving ecosystems. Besides joining the Junior Audubon group, what can children do to help?

Below you will find activities and suggestions to introduce your child to become more in tune with the world around him. Each of us has appreciation of the world around us. Along with that comes responsibility to take care of it!

Bird Watching: Naturally one of the first things that comes to mind would be simply to go out in the backyard (or local park) and observe. How many different types of birds can you spot? Study them closely. Do some feed on the ground while others appear to eat berries from the tree, or do they gather insects from the bark? Lie quietly and close your eyes. How many different bird calls do you hear? Finally, observe more closely using a pair of binoculars! Look at the intricate patterns of the feathers. Are you able to spot whether a bird is a male or female? Most of the time males will have much brighter plumage. Do you know different types of birds that appear to get along? Are there some that seem to be fighting?

Create a Friendly Yard: When treating your lawn/garden, encourage your family to be "nature friendly". Avoid pesticides and other chemicals. Conserve water. Also, educate your family on protecting the water sources you have! Did you know that emptying even one quart of oil into a drain can result in an oil slick two acres in size! Plant native species of plants throughout the yard. These serve to attract and insure the survival of those animals /organisms that have them as a part of their food chain.

To attract wild birds throughout the year, create and maintain the conditions that a variety of birds favor. Feeders and birdbaths alone will not do the job. Leave a "mess!" Dead composing leaves provide a spot for next spring's bugs. Those insects make very tasty treats for many species of birds.

  1. Conifers -- for shelter, food and nesting area. Spruce and cedar are examples.
  2. Grasses and legumes provide food for seed eaters, insects and nesting cover for ground nesting birds. Sow a handful of bird seed in a sunny corner for an interesting and tasty bird treat.
  3. Nectar-producing plants attrack hummingbirds. Honey sickle and columbine are two such plants.
  4. Summer-fruiting plants shrubs provide food, shelter and nesting sites. Examples are alpine strawberries, service berries and sand cherries.
  5. Fall-fruiting plants provide both shelter, food and nesting sites. Examples are buffalo berry and bayberry.
  6. Winter-persistent plants are plants that hold their fruits throughout the winter. An example is holly and wild rose. The hedge provides both hiding places and winter food.
  7. Nut and acorn plants such as walnuts and hazelnuts provide food and nesting spots.

Help make your yard safe as well as attractive by keeping your cat indoors.

Study your micro-ecosystem: Take a magnifying glass with you outdoors along with a sketchbook. Have fun going on a Backyard Safari adventure! Look closely at the back of leaves of plants, at soil samples, bark and so on! With millions of organisms living in your yard you are bound to find all types of interesting things!

Julie Snyder is a mom of six, interested in kids, pregnancy, birth, people and lives in the outlying Seattle area. Melissa Jaramillo is mom to many. She's passionate about building, encouraging, and strengthening families on this adventure known as parenthood!

Copyright © Melissa Jaramillo and Julie Snyder. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.