Birds

Birding With Toddlers: 5 Tips

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Here are 5 Tips When Birding With With a Toddler

Birding with kids is fun, but it requires some mental agility because you’ve got to keep your eye on your kid while simultaneously keeping your eyes peeled for birds.

In this post I tell you five ways to make birding, with a toddler in tow, easy.

Tip #1: Pack Light and Pack for Your Kid

You’re probably already running around with your toddler, so you know that packing smart and packing light are key. No parent needs extra anything when birding with a young child, but you also need things that your kid is going to like.

Packing for your kid means just that. Sure you’ve got your own camera, or your own bins. Pack them one too.

I always pack my toddler her own bins and field guide. The field guide counts as a picture book to flip through, and more recently I bought her a simple Kodak point and shoot camera.

In addition to those items, I pack a snack, water, and her favorite toy.

Tip #2: Know The Birding Spot Beforehand

Knowing the birding spot before you go there with your toddler is helpful. Sometimes it’s impossible, but if you can, get to know it.

By knowing about the spot beforehand you will be able to get a good lay of the trails, facilities, and whether or not you can pack a stroller. That leads me to the next tip.

Tip #3: Use a Stroller

Some trails are very accessible. Many trails in residential areas are paved, or at the very least are “smooth”. Using a stroller on accessible trails is great idea. Even if your kid has outgrown the idea of using a stroller, walking miles to bird can be very exhausting for a kid, and it can offer them (and you) a break.

Also, if you’re a parent with a kid that still naps, this is a great way to get in some birding time. I’ve clocked many birding hours during nap-time and I have my stroller to thank for it!

Tip #4: Keep it Short and Sweet

With kids, sometimes the best way to have a successful birding session is to keep it short and sweet.

For example, say a rarity was spotted at park one county over. Take your kid on a picnic to the park and bird from your picnic table. When the picnic is over, see if your toddler will take a nap in the stroller, if not, keep it short and go home.

Everyone will be happier for it!

Tip #5: Make it Their Birding Session

If I had a dollar for every time my toddler told me she spotted a Bald Eagle “in the bushes over there” (unfortunately, there’s never a Bald Eagle “in the bushes over there”) I’d probably be a millionaire.

If I had a dollar for every time my toddler did a wild version of pishing, I’d definitely be a billionaire!

My response to the invisible Eagle is typically something like, “Oh! Wow! I missed it!” and my response to the pishing is, “What birdsong is that?” (99% of the time it’s “Chicka-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee…)

Why don’t I tell my kid the truth about the Eagle? Why don’t a shush my kid? Because a.) she’s a toddler, b.) she’s learning about birding and, c.) she’s into it!

I really couldn’t ask for a better experience and I’m grateful that she makes it her own. Also, why spoil it for her?

The most important thing about birding with your toddler is to involve them and make the session theirs. This pays off because you’ll end up with a kid that is finding birds where you aren’t looking. 

Learn to bird with your toddler and you’ll end up being an awesome birding team. I don’t know about you, but when I’m old and gray, I look forward to the days that my kid will take me birding.

(Note: My 4 y.o. [not a toddler anymore] has helped me find birds that I didn’t even know were there. And this extends to other species. More recently she pointed out an Imperial Moth that I thought was a leaf, right after she pointed out the Regal Moth that I didn’t even see!)

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Regal Moth. Image Credit: Animal Perspectives.

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Imperial Moth. Image Credit: Animal Perspectives.

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1 reply »

  1. Children make fantastic wildlife spotters. Their short status has their eyes more in the shrubs and on the ground — places often we adults overlook as we pitch our view into the trees. Great post and bug pics. We haven’t seen an Imperial moth in many years down here in Texas. Cheers.