I love listening to the sounds of the birds chirping away in the garden and we are lucky to have a good variety of feathery visitors. Just recently our daughter spotted a Bullfinch which we were all very excited about as we hear they are on the decline. Seeing this colourful bird has sparked our daughters’ interest in identifying the birds that visit our garden and we often find her sitting at the window with her binoculars and bird book looking at the blue tits and robins.
Inspired by our daughters’ interest in birds I decided to make two simple activities to teach children to identify the most common birds we see whilst gardening or out on nature walks.
The first activity I made was a very basic “mix and match memory British Birds” game and the second is a “Bird Watching Checklist” activity sheet which can both be downloaded for you to use with your own children.
Mix and match memory game – British Birds
This activity is for parents and children to play together using six of the birds regularly seen in British gardens. Playing this game will give you a chance to talk about what each of these bird looks like and what their names are. When I did this with my daughter, I planned ahead and did a little research into what each bird likes to eat as this is often the question my daughter asks. I’ve written a short description about each bird below.
Common garden birds
The Bullfinch can be seen all year round in the UK although they are a shy breed the bright red breast and grey back of a male make them easy to identify if you are lucky to see one. Bullfinches love to feed on berries, the buds of trees and in Spring they will catch insects to feed their young. If you want to encourage Bullfinches to your garden it is suggested that you grow thick shrubs as they like dense shelter and leave out sunflower hearts for them to feed on.
Goldfinches are less likely to be seen all year round in the UK as many do migrate as far south as Spain in Winter. They have a bright red face and yellow streak on the wing and both sexes are similarly coloured. Goldfinches have a long beak that allows them to reach seeds from thistles that would normally be out of reach. It is reported that the Goldfinch population is on the increase thanks to people leaving food out on bird tables during Winter. If you want to help feed the goldfinch over Winter then a bird feeder filled with Niger seeds will keep them happy.
The Robin is the gardeners favourite bird and I’ve noticed one of the first birds children can correctly identify. The bright red breast and dumpy brown body of the robin is a common sight all over the UK. Robins like to feed on worms, seeds, fruits and insects and if you do want to leave food out for the robins in your garden you must remember that they are ground feeders. Robins like their feet on the ground and will really only feed from seed trays, bird houses or bird feeders with a perch.
The bright blue cap makes the Blue Tit recognisable from other tits and they can be found all year round in the UK. During Winter when the search for food becomes harder family flocks are known to group up with other tits to search for food. They like to feed on insects, caterpillars, seeds and nuts. Peanut granules are a great bird food to leave out for Blue tits as they are packed with proteins that will give them lots of energy.
Wood Pigeons are the largest breed of pigeon and are easily identifiable by their white neck patch and green border. If you are having trouble spotting one, keep an ear out as they take flight noisily. Wood Pigeons eat cabbages, sprouts, peas, seeds, nuts and berries and are one of few birds that thrive in intensively farmed countryside.
Magpies are unmistakable with their contrasting black and white plumage, long tails and distinctive “chak chak chak” call. Magpies are scavengers and their sharp cutting edge bill can be used for cutting the flesh of small mammals, digging up invertebrates and picking fruit.
British bird watching activity sheet
I find that children love any activity that involves ticking a sheet so I have put together this Bird watching check list for them to carry whilst bird watching. You can download a copy for your children by clicking the link.
We hope that you enjoy these activities with you children. Please join us on social media and share with us the birds that you have spotted.