The Birdwatching Badge poses an important question, is birdwatching fun? I enjoy birdwatching but doing it with children is a whole different experience. We often take our kids into bird hides when we are out and about and they are very good at sitting quietly and observing the world for a few minutes. It can be a pleasant respite on a hectic day out.
Aside from birdwatching, the Birdwatching Badge opens up a lot of ideas for activities. The Squirrel Club learn how to watch birds, find some easy to spot birds and build a birdhouse. I have included all of these in my guide to getting your Birdwatching Badge, plus a few other ideas.
All About Birds
The best place to start with the Birdwatching Badge is to think about what birds actually are. There are three things that make a bird a bird:
- A beak
- Lays eggs
Other common ideas kids might have about birds are:
- They fly
- They build nests
These are true of most birds but not all of them.
While you’re learning about birds you can also do a little research into the nests different birds like. This a excellent post from Green Acorns about exploring birds’ nests with children. It includes activities, suggestions for books to read and information on the different types of nest:
Once you have the basics down you can try out some easy bird spotting. I recommend getting out and about. The zoo, local farm park and lake will all have a variety of easy to spot birds. If you can’t get out then there are lots of ways to spot birds at home. Open any picture book, encyclopedia or magazine will have birds scattered throughout for you to spot. Here are some of our favourites:
- The Big Book of Birds is a beautifully illustrated book.
- The Children’s Encyclopedia of Birds has stunning photographs and is packed with information.
Watch Some Birds
While heading out into the woods or your nearest lake with a bird hide can be a fun day out and I would definitely recommend giving it a go. However, if spending time keeping your children quiet enough to see anything doesn’t sound fun then there’s an excellent alternative. Our homes make excellent bird hides and all you need is a window and a guide to common garden birds to get going. There are plenty of excellent guides online. I prefer the one on the RSPB website:
While you’re there, sign up for the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. This event takes place every year at the end of January. It encourages amateur bird watchers to get involved and record all the birds in their gardens for 1 hour. Sign up here:
Build a Bird House
When Duggee and the Squirrels accidentally break the birds’ nest they build them new, deluxe lodgings. If you want to really test your DIY skills there are plenty of patterns online. You can also buy flatpacks to put together yourself with minimal effort. The easiest option is to buy a pre-made box to install. However you decide to make your box, you can decorate it together before finding the perfect spot to install it.
We took the easy option and decorated some pre-made boxes with natural things we found in the garden. They can be decorated in any way you like. Birds don’t mind if you want to paint it with bold colours or use buttons or other synthetic materials as decorations, just make sure everything is attached safely and cannot harm the birds.
The most important aspect of putting up a birdbox is location. Here are a few things to consider:
- Boxes at different heights will attract different birds.
- Face the box north-east to avoid direct sunlight and the worst of the weather.
- Make sure there is a clear path for birds to fly into the box.
Unfortunately having a box is no guarantee that any birds will nest in your garden. If they do then it’s a real treat to watch parent birds darting in and out, first with nest material, then with bugs for the chicks.
- The RSPB website has lots more helpful hints for making and placing a birdbox in your garden.
- The Hey Duggee website has instructions for a Roly bird feeder if you want to stay on point.
- There are also bird feeder instructions in Winnie-the-Pooh’s 50 Things to do Before You’re 5 3/4 as well as some suggestions for what to put in your feeder.
- Both the Spring and Summer and Autumn and Winter Gruffalo Activity books have lots of nature-based activities, including bird spotting. The Spring and summer book includes instructions for making bird feeders. The Autumn and Winter book has a page of birds to spot in winter.
- Mud and Bloom subscription boxes often include bird activities. January 2021 had bird feeder instructions and a guide to garden birds. April 2020’s box also had a guide to bird’s nests and a weave your own nest craft. These boxes are expensive but they come with good quality natural components for several activities.
Birds Nest Cakes
Another way to make a Birds’ Nest Cakes are a classic recipe for me around Easter. I usually make regular chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing and mini eggs. My cupcakes are not the healthiest options. There are lots of other ways to make birds’ nest cakes including easier recipes that you can do with the kids.
- The Room on a Broom Cookbook has a recipe for making Birds’ Nest Crispy Cakes so you can make a bird’s nest, just like the Squirrels. This recipe uses shredded wheat, chocolate and hazelnuts for the eggs.
Hey Duggee Resources
Many of the Hey Duggee Sticker Books have Birdwatching Badge pages:
- Hey Duggee Badges Activity Book.
- Hey Duggee Super Stickers Activity Book.
- Hey Duggee Nature Activity Book.