Bird Watching, a wonderful hobby for the whole family8:10:00 PM
In a world with so much technological advancement, it gets harder and harder to encourage kids to spend more time outdoors. But what if we could turn an old hobby into a fun game? Kids love games, especially if it turns a little into a competition, and I bet it would totally make your day if in addition to having a lot of fun, your kids learned new skills. That is why I'd like to share with all of you, the 5 top reasons why we love bird watching, and think it is a wonderful hobby for both kids and adults.
(Black Phoebe, at Kit Carson Park, Escondido, California)
The sense of wonder and discovery is a great feeling that comes with every outdoor activity. Nature is so unpredictable at times, that you really never know what you are going to find out there. From the most common species, to amazing surprises, it's such a joy to be able to experience the magnificence of birds that are rare, or even endangered, and catch a glimpse of why mother nature is such a great artist.
Anna's Hummingbird, at Balboa Park, San Diego, California
If you want to be able to see the most beautiful spectacles of nature, you have to be patient. For people like us, who are just learning to live a stress-free life, this is great practice towards an emotional well-being. Being able to re-program our bodies and brains into being patient is hard work, but when it is encouraged by something beautiful and fun, believe me, it helps a ton. I think this is a great activity if you're trying to teach your little ones about patience, and about being gentle. After all, when you are bird-watching, you have to use a softer voice, and move the least as possible.
Pelicans flying in La Jolla Cove, California
This is totally a learning experience for adults and kids alike. There are so many species of birds out there, that as you keep on bird-watching, you start learning to recognize certain species, not only by their colors, but by their singing too. We get to see birds at the zoo, but there is nothing like seeing them be free in their own habitat, and even learn about how they live and coexist with other species.
Ruby-throated Humming Bird, Escondido, California
For example, there was a time when I was wondering why there were so many humming birds where we live. Later, I realized that it was because they had both a food source and nesting resources. We were having too many spiders in the garden for a while, but the humming birds rejoiced at their feast, and I learned that they were using the spiderwebs to build nests. How cool is that? No matter how old we are, we never stop learning. It's also a great opportunity to teach the little ones about the circle of life and the seasons, since birds tend to do seasonal migration. Plus, if you think about it, many ancient cultures used bird feathers to embellish jewelry, crowns, and outfits. It's also a great excuse to try to identify what kind of birds those feathers belonged to. This also allows your little ones to start getting researching skills. Considering that as they grow older, they would have to do a lot of research for school, this is a great excuse to start them early in that world. Who knows, they might even like using the internet for other than just playing video games.
I think this is a Chilean Flamingo, at the Wild Animal Park, Escondido, CA
Although you can find birds as close as your back yard, there is only a hand full of species you will actually see, unless you live in the Amazons. Then forget everything I just said. However, since most of us don't live that close to nature, this hobby encourages us to go outside and explore. There are birds nearly everywhere; from pigeons in the big cities, to seagulls and pelicans in the coast, or ducks and egrets in parks. There are all types of birds all around us, but we have to go out there and look for them. Because this requires walking, and sometimes even hiking, it works as great exercise, and because most of this is done surrounded by nature, it's a great way to get a good amount of fresh air. Just remember to take the necessary precautions, because as beautiful as it may be, nature can still be dangerous if you don't know where you are going or what you are doing.
Red Shouldered Hawk, Kit Carson Park in Escondido, California
Make it a game! I know that it's been a trend for kids to try to capture cartoon characters on their phones or tablets, therefore, this might just be as much fun, with the difference that since these creatures are real, they will be able to learn something that will stay with them forever. The cool thing about collecting photos of birds that you've taken, is that not only do you get to enjoy them forever, but you also get to share those images with the rest of the world. Who knows, if they are really really good, you could even make some extra income from this fun hobby. As a kid, my favorite thing was to collect trading cards and stamps, just because I found each piece told a story. Photos are the same way, and you can make this a healthy collectible hobby.
Snowy Egret in the Kit Carson Duck Pond, Escondido, California
Where to start? Easy, there are birds literally everywhere! Parks, ponds, the beach, the zoo, the woods, and sometimes even at aquariums.
My suggestions to you are:
- Use journals so that everyone can write down the when and where they saw the particular type of bird.
- Take photos, print them, and add them to your journal entry.
- Make it personal, and share it with your family and friends.
All in all, there are so many benefits to this hobby, that I really hope you consider it as something you can start doing with your family now that Spring is on it's way. Since most of us have cameras and printers at home, this hobby is great to stay in budget. Then later, if your kids are very into this, they might get encouraged to save enough for a new camera, therefore, another lesson learn.
And the best thing about technology, is that you don't even have to print all the photos for the journal, but rather create an electronic version, in which the whole family can add their photos, and indicate who took the photo with the information about it. It would be a great thing to share with any relatives or friends that come to visit. If you really get into it, you can even create a blog about it, and share it with the online community. We think this is a fantastic hobby worth passing on through generations, and even making it a tradition during certain events.
Barn Owl, under a Palm Tree in Kit Carson, Escondido, California
My husband took the photo above at the park. He was so excited to see this owl, that he could't believe it, so he took the photo to share it with me, since I was at home. I got so excited to be able to see it too. I wouldn't had been able to see it if we weren't into bird watching and exploring the outdoors. Not the best photo, because it was taken with a cellphone, but did we care? Not really, we were all excited to have a photo of an owl as cool as this one.
So what do you think? Do you already practice bird watching, or are you thinking of trying it out with your family or friends? If you already do this, what has been the most exciting sighting you've seen so far? Why do you like bird watching? Do you have any other hobbies? Please tell us in a comment, we'd love to read you. In the mean time, please enjoy some of the photos I've taken while being outdoors.
The big birds are Willets, and the small one a Sandpiper. Photo taken at Torrey Pines, California
Sandpiper birds at Torrey Pines, California
Scarlet Macaws at The Wild Animal Park, Escondido, California
Rupicola Peruviana, at the Wild Animal Park, Escondido, California
Snowy Egret, at the Wild Animal Park, Escondido, California
Black Swan at the "Planetario Alfa", in San Pedro, Nuevo Leon, Mexico
Wood Duck & American Black Duck enjoying the water, at "Planetario Alfa", Nuevo Leon, Mexico
Peacock, at "Planetario Alfa", Nuevo Leon, Mexico
Canadian Geese in Evergreen, Colorado
Double-crested Cormorant in Evergreen, Colorado
Brown Pelican, at the Pier in Pacific Beach, California
Turkey Vulture, in Santa Maria, California
Spooted Towhee, at Kit Carson in Escondido, California
Steller's Jay, at Bishop, California
Northern Mockingbird, just outside my home!
This beauty of a Red Finch, wakes me up with the loveliest of melodies. I love him so much! Now, who's watching who?
Seagull and Sea-Lion at La Jolla Cove, California
This is one of the most incredible birds, and it's HUGE! Shoebill at the Wild Animal Park, Escondido, California.
Bonus points for the birds that do some human-watching. Yup, you got to be careful with those (Black-crowned Night-Heron).
I hope you've enjoyed these photos, as well as this blog post, and that you find it useful. Don't forget to visit often to find more fun ideas, and other things. Have you visited our giveaway page yet? We have a few you might enjoy. Good Luck, and until the next time, smile--because it's contagious!