Town parks are great for introducing children to the delights of watching birds. They usually include one or more ponds or lakes, which makes them attractive to birds. What’s more, many of the birds commonly seen in town parks are present all-year-round, are large enough to spot and identify, and can be approached without them flying off. What are these birds? Ducks!
As I am aiming to encourage children to WATCH birds and not just LOOK at them, an easy and interesting exercise for children involves watching ducks feed.
Did you know that ducks can be divided into dabblers and divers? Dabblers find their food, such as aquatic plants and water insects, on or just below the surface of the water. Divers, on the other hand … yes, you’ve got it, they find tasty food on the bottom of the lake.
An interesting exercise is for the child to count the number of seconds that a diving duck disappears while searching for food underwater!
A bird I love seeing in my local park and the nearby canal is the great crested grebe. Keep eye open for these birds in the spring, when they have a rather unusual way of taking the kids to school.
Together with the child, watch how waterbirds interact with each other. Coots, moorhens, ducks and geese always seem to be getting into some kind of argument with each other!
This is just a sample of some of the birds and their behaviour to look out for when you take a child to the local park.
More ideas on what to look out for in a park, as well as questions to ask a child, are in my book. Available for download from this website or for purchase on Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Barnes & Noble etc. as of 10 December.