Watching a colourful wood duck swim around the pond, or hearing a pileated woodpecker tap, tap, tap for insects, children are quickly captivated by our feathered friends.
After all, children are naturally inquisitive and love discovering the natural world around them – and exploring as a family is even better!
When it comes to introducing children to the world of birdwatching, ducks are a great place to start – they’re easier for kids to see, and offer many species to spot, notes Darren Copley, an avid birdwatcher and Environmental Education Officer with the District of Saanich.
“In Victoria we’re super lucky,” Darren says. In addition to the wide variety of birds here year-round, our location on the Pacific Flyway means many more species travel through each spring and fall.
Backyard bird watching is also an easy way to spark children’s interest in the natural world all around them, and a great opportunity for the family to develop their Natural Intelligence together, Darren adds.
Backyard birding … and beyond
Start by observing the birds that visit your garden already, and then look at how you could invite more, such as adding bird houses and bird feeders.
Make your garden more inviting to birds by adding a water feature – even a simple one is attractive to birds and other species – native plants and ground cover that provide shelter. You can also put out safe nesting material and watch birds collect it.
Borrow colourful bird books from the library, pick up a field guide from a second-hand book store or the Saanich Parks Field Guide, and check out the beginner birdwatching course from Saanich Recreation. Explore bird artwork and have children add their own art to the collection!
Given that birdwatching is North America’s most common past-time, you likely have a friend or two who are also captivated by our feathered friends. Some like to also take their passion on the road, and groups like Birding Pal connect birders around the world.
Ready to learn more?
Take a course – The University of Victoria’s continuing education departments can be a good place to start, or join a guided bird walk at the Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary.
Get the app – A variety of apps are available, including eBird, Merlin Bird ID and iNaturalist – explore the natural world, learn more about what you see and share what you experience. From the rarest bird to the most common backyard weed, use the iNaturalist app to record your observations in Saanich Parks and share them with fellow naturalists, contributing to biodiversity science. Also from iNaturalist, the Seek app offers image recognition technology to identify the plants and animals all around you.
Check out local hotspots – Saanich has a wealth of resources for those interested in learning more about birding. Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary, Kings Pond and Bow Park are all great locations. Find more with the the Greater Victoria Naturehood Map, available online and at Saanich recreation centres, and Nature Guide to the Victoria Region.