By MOSES LEVICH
Birding is fun for kids because it’s the easiest way to see wildlife near your home, wherever you live. Here are some tips to help you get started.
- You don’t need binoculars or other expensive equipment to find birds. With your eyes and ears alone you can spots birds wherever you are.
- A good place to start birding is in your local park. Look for wooded and quiet areas. Many parks have guided birding tours led by the Audubon Society. To find your local Audubon Society, go to www.audubon.org.
- You don’t need to be in the wilderness to find birds. I live in New York City, and within 100 yards of my house I’ve seen dark-eyed juncos, downy woodpeckers, house finches, white-throated sparrows, blue jays, cardinals and kestrels, as well as a common tern and many kinds of gulls.
- Birding isn’t just birdwatching. Half of birding is listening to birds and learning to recognize different birds by their songs. (Birdsong CDs can help!)
- Birders learn songs by using memorable wordsand phrases. The call of the olive-sided flycatcher sounds like “Quick! Three beers!” Some birds are even named for the sound of their song — like the Pewee and the Whip-poor-will.
- To help identify birds, you should have a field guide. Field guides have pictures and information on field marks, habitats and birdsong. Two of the best are the Peterson’s and the Sibley guides.
- Keep track of the birds you’ve seen in a “lifelist” (a list of every species you’ve ever seen or heard, with notes about where and when you first saw it). There are life lists in the back of some field guides — or you can make your own.
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Moses Levich, urban birder, is a fourth-grader at The Renaissance Charter School in Jackson Heights, Queens, NY.