The Bottom Line
Backyard birding is a great activity for all ages, and Backyard Birding For Kids is a concise and engaging resource to get children involved with birds. Both an activity book and an introductory field guide, this book offers a sound, educational introduction to many aspects of birding, but does so in a fun and exciting way to spark a passion for birds in even the youngest reader. From projects and tips to common birds in a variety of habitats, Backyard Birding For Kids has everything young birders need to take flight.
- Colorful illustrations and easy layout will appeal to young readers.
- Includes a wide variety of easy, inexpensive projects for young backyard birders.
- Thorough overview of all important aspects of birding, including identification, attracting birds, feeding birds, birding ethics, etc.
- Engaging tone encourages readers to get involved and offers easy ways to enjoy birds in a wide variety of habitats.
- Very few individual birds are included in the field guide sections, but the selected species are those most common and distinct, easier for kids to learn and find in the field.
- Resource list is inadequate; while offering good suggestions, it does not even fill a complete page with suggestions for online research or additional reading.
- Title: Backyard Birding For Kids: A Field Guide & Activities
- Author: Fran Lee
- Publisher: Gibbs Smith
- Publication Date: May 2005
- Format: Softcover
- Bird Artwork: Illustrations
- Dimensions: 8" (20.3 cm) tall, 6" (15.2 cm) wide, .25" (.64 cm) thick
- Page Count: 64
- ISBN: 978-1-58685-411-9
- Price: $9.99 (USD)
Review - Backyard Birding For Kids: A Field Guide & Activities
Kids today have a lot of indoor distractions – video games, mobile devices, electronic toys, hundreds of television channels – but Backyard Birding For Kids: A Field Guide & Activities is just the book to get them outdoors and exploring nature. The book is part activity book, part informational resource and part field guide; everything kids need to get started birding in just 64 pages.
The durable and securely bound pages, large font and colorful abundance of graphics will appeal to young eyes, and the different tips and projects are easily implemented. Though this book is not suitable for young readers who already have some birding experience as it is geared toward the most novice of birdwatchers, it will provide a good beginning for readers just discovering birds.
The activity sections of Backyard Birding For Kids offer fun and fast projects using inexpensive materials that can help young birders discover the birds in their backyard. Projects covered include:
- How to make a pine cone bird feeder
- A hummingbird nectar recipe and instructions for a simple homemade nectar feeder
- Instructions for a simple nesting shelf
- Growing and harvesting sunflower seeds
- Making a simple bird bath and a dripper
- Sketching birds and designing a bird watching notebook
- Start a bird-watching club
Simple materials lists, instructions and tips are included for each project, though some do require adult supervision or assistance.
As an informational resource, Backyard Birding For Kids provides a surprisingly comprehensive overview of many aspects of birding. Not only are tips and suggestions for equipment included, but the parts of a bird diagram on page 9 and the bird wing parts diagram on page 11 will help young birders start identifying birds right away by learning the proper field marks and terminology. Birding ethics, basic habitat descriptions and tips for how to go birding are all included, as is a list of state birds and very brief biographies of John James Audubon and Roger Tory Peterson.
The field guide sections of this book are divided into the most familiar and basic habitats that kids may be able to explore:
- City Birds
- Woodland Birds
- Country Birds
- Wetland Birds
- Seashore Birds
- Desert Birds
The introduction to each section includes a very basic overview of the habitat type, followed by a number of the most common birds to be found in those regions. A total of 43 species are detailed, with 13 in the urban habitat and six each for the remaining habitats. Because of these small numbers, some of the most common bird species in each region are missing, but those included do give young birders a taste of the variety of birds they may see in different areas. Information in each brief profile includes the bird's common name, some behavior clues, basic size information and occasional trivia. The drawings of each bird are highly stylized and lack fine details, but they do provide an accurate representation of enough of each bird's most prominent field marks to make identification possible. Only male birds of dimorphic species are represented, however, and no range maps are included to clarify exactly where birds may be seen.
There is no index in the book, but a very brief list of useful books and websites is included, though only 11 total resources are included – a woefully inadequate selection given the wide variety of information available for beginning birders.
Though by no means a definitive resource, Backyard Birding For Kids: A Field Guide & Activities will whet a young reader's appetite for all types of birds. With easy activities, useful tips and a colorful design sure to appeal to young readers and beginning birders, this book is a great way to get kids involved in birding and foster a lifelong love of the feathered kind as readers learn to "go bird-watching as often as [they] can, in as many places as [they] can, and [gain] experiences filled with surprises and enjoyment."