Bringing the birds in.
We currently have a bird obsessed toddler. She listens with utmost concentration when she hears them out on a walk. She points at every window and says “bird” in the hope of catching sight of one. And when she actually does, our feathered friend is met with so much pointing and shrieking that the poor thing usually clears off quite quickly. Every book with any bird in is now a favourite, and we love encouraging them into our postage stamp garden.
Birds are the most delightfully simple things to explore. They tend to be everywhere, seen through the most urban of windows, and once you begin inviting them into your garden it amazed me at the different varieties we had on our doorstep, rather than the odd fat pigeon we had beforehand. They are elusive, yet wherever you look, which seems to lend itself really well to childhood fascination.
We are currently in the early stage of our bird obsession, but with this being a cold and low time in the Northern Hemisphere, with hard, frosty ground and berries disappearing fast, now is the time to start being generous with the winged ones. Here are some ways in which we’ve been enjoying birds at home (and perhaps a few activities thrown in for older ones too!).
Bird feeders. As easy or complex as you like, we’ve done a real mixture of things since winter began to feed our bird contingent. Most days I tend to just chuck a load of bird seed out into the patio to encourage ground feeders, as well as buying bird cakes from the supermarket. We’ve tried our hand at making bird feeders with peanut butter and seed, squashed onto pinecones and hung by string on the wisteria in our garden. Very messy, but the birds love it! Another easy bird feeder, cheerios strung onto wire were a fun activity at Forest School last week, but be warned it tended to be one for the birds and three for the toddler!
Bird crafts are easy to think of. We’ve cut birds from paper and let Eilish paint them to hang, but using pinecones or the last of the autumn leaves along with a few found feathers to make birds from would be a lovely foraging and making activity.
We pick up feathers all the time on walks, and then bring them home to identify. This is more of a fun activity for me at the moment, for sure, but its a lovely habit to get into that we can share as Eilish grows.
Any books with birds in it are a hit at the moment, but Animalium with its gorgeous page of Woodland birds is Eilish’s current favourite. She will spend a while pointing at each one as we name them. Winter by Gerda Muller is also delightfully full of birds we see at home, and is making me sharpen my bird identifying skills. I often find her playing spot the bird alone as she turns the pages. I’m hoping to buy this book, Sounds of Nature: World of Birds, soon, it looks beautiful!
I’ve printed off these bird cards (some we don’t have in the UK, I’m just leaving these out) and am just awaiting the arrival of a laminator so we can enjoy them. As they come in pairs they’ve got so much longevity, first for exploring now, then for identifying and matching. Once I have a bit more time, I’d like to find some good photos of each bird for further matching opportunities.
With spring just about on the horizon, my husband is making a nestbox with Eilish over the next few weekends. He’s going off-piste with his (carpenter ego at work), but this guide looks perfect.
The RSPB website is amazing for bird watching opportunities, advice on creating homes for birds in your garden and identifying. What is especially good is where you can put in a few details and it will create a personal plan full of activities to make your home more wildlife friendly.
If you’ve enjoyed this post, you might enjoy The Monthly Letters, which I send out at the beginning of each month. They are packed full with crafts, recipes, activities, nature walk ideas and a little letter from me to you, all for you to enjoy for free. You can sign up here, the next one comes out tomorrow!
(This post contains some affiliate links at absolutely no extra cost to you, but it means that we get a very small percentage which we will probably spend on more books.)