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Bird by Bird: Books for Birdwatchers Big and Small

by Patricia J. Murphy

books-for-young-birdwatchers

Looking for a hobby for your kids that will banish boredom and reduce screen time without costing a fortune? Well, I have one word for you: birdwatching!

According to Ed Dominguez, lead naturalist at the Seward Park Audubon Center in Seattle, Washington, birdwatching can have many benefits you might not expect. “Birdwatching can give children a sense of awe, wonder, and curiosity which can lead to interest and feelings of empathy,” Dominguez said. “And, this empathy for birds can transfer to other creatures in the world, wanting to care for them and their habitats, and help children become holistic and better human beings.”

To get young birdwatchers started and maximize their birdwatching experiences, I’ve compiled a list of books to read before, during, and after birdwatching. Many of them offer ways to identify birds and detail how to attract feathered friends to your backyard. My favorites encourage birders to keep a safe distance from birds while watching them and leave only footprints behind.

  • Mrs. Peanuckle's Bird Alphabet

    by Mrs. Peanuckle, illustrated by Jessie Ford

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    The latest edition of Mrs. Peanuckle’s alphabet books, Mrs. Peanuckle’s Bird Alphabet, categorizes 26 birds from A to Z. Each spread pairs a colorful illustration with a fascinating, lesser-known fact about our feathered friends. Did you know bluebirds can sing 1,000 songs in one hour, or crows are intelligent and can remember faces? Kids will learn these facts and more as they read this informative book. Check out the rest of Mrs. Peanuckle’s Alphabet series for more alphabet fun.
    (Ages 0 - 3)

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  • Birding for Babies: Backyard Birds

    by Chloe Goodhart, illustrated by Gareth Lucas

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    It’s time to head to the backyard with baby, where birds are waiting for you to count them! In this STEM-based bird book, your little chicks count the birds on each page, discover interesting facts about birds, and learn tips for finding them. When you’re finished with this book, migrate to its companion title about colors, Birding for Babies: Migrating Birds.
    (Ages 0 - 3)

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  • Hello, World! Birds

    by Jill McDonald

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    Hello, World! Birds is the perfect way to introduce babies and toddlers to the genre of nonfiction and the world of birds. Readers will learn about birds in their backyards and beyond with its easy-to-read terms and colorful collage illustrations. Footnotes expound on the book's facts and offer additional information. Keep the fun going by taking turns counting all the birds, playing “I SPY,” or doing a scavenger hunt in the book. Say “Hi” to the other Hello, World! titles about the farm, weather, dinosaurs, cars, trucks, and more. You and your little ones won’t be able to say goodbye to any of these books.
    (Ages 0 - 3)

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  • Bird Builds a Nest: A First Science Storybook

    by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Richard Jones

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    This First Science Storybook is one part story, one part science, and a lot of feathery fun. With simple text and mixed-media illustrations, readers follow a mother bird as she uses “force” to create a cozy nest for her eggs. The last pages’ egg-gaging (sorry) questions will encourage scientific discussion and nest exploration. While exploring nests, remember to stay clear of baby birds and their mamas. Nesting suggestion: Leave out small bits of fabric, yarn, ribbon, and lint to help mama birds create their nests.
    (Ages 4 - 6)

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  • DKfindout! Birds

    by DK

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    Let the bird love affair begin! Perfect for older bird watchers (6-9 years old), this fact-filled fowl fest explores nearly 150 ovarian species. Readers will learn about their diverse habitats, unique qualities, distinctive life cycles, mating and migration activities, plus sections about threatened species and the people helping them. With stunning photos, exciting facts, and delightful details, young birders will see the world through birds and want to explore them on their own. It’s a must-have for aspiring ornithologists and bird lovers alike.
    (Ages 6 - 9)

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  • The Extraordinary World of Birds

    by David Lindo, illustrated by Claire McElfatrick

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    For older birdwatchers, The Extraordinary World of Birds explores a wide range of birding topics including birds of prey, dinosaur ancestors, and colorful displays. Told in full-color, detailed spreads, this book would be an extraordinary addition to a budding bird lover’s collection.
    (Ages 7 - 9)

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  • Look at That Bird!

    by Karen DeWitz

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    This fun and easy-to-read beginner’s bird guide begins with a “birder’s pledge” to respect the birds and the places you find them (e.g., only get as close as the birds allow, stay clear of babies and nests, leave nothing behind, etc.). It continues with a close-up look at 50 of the most common bird species in the Pacific Northwest. You can learn about the diverse bird population from the region, how to identify them, and how to attract birds to your backyard.
    (Ages 8 - 12)

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  • Look Up!

    by Annette LeBlanc Cate

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    Look Up! combines a comic book feel and a nonfiction bird watching guide to lift your eyes to the skies. Cate’s beautifully illustrated book will convert even the most reluctant birder to go outside and discover birds. Comic panels share fascinating facts about dozens of birds, conversations between cartoon birds, and practical tips on how (and why) to observe birds in their natural habitats. Readers will wonder why they have never considered birdwatching before. Winner of the Sibert Honor Award in 2014, this guide will springboard your birdwatching to a new level!
    (Ages 8 - 12)

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  • The Bird Atlas

    by Barbara Taylor, illustrated by Richard Orr

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    The atlas has gone to the birds — literally! The Bird Atlas shows young birders where birds live, migrate, and roam. This unique resource is arranged by continent to offer a global view of the geography, climate, landscapes, habitats, and activities of the world’s fowl. It’s a perfect introduction to birds around the world, endangered species, and how to help them.
    (Ages 9 - 12)

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  • Sibley Backyard Birding Bingo

    by David Allen Sibley

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    If your kids love bingo — you are in luck! This colorful, information-filled bingo game features 50 North American birds to identify and learn about. The game cards are labeled with bird names and illustrations exquisitely painted by the pre-eminent birding author/illustrator, David Sibley. After the last BINGO is called, birders can venture into nature to observe the feathered creatures. The sturdy packaging, game cards, and pieces can endure hours of fun — indoors or outdoors!
    (All Ages)

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Happy birdwatching!