Backyard Wonder: Birdwatching

Birdwatching can be a relaxing, rewarding, educational activity that brings your family closer to nature. When we get to know the birds around us, it allows us to tune into daily and seasonal rhythms. It promotes mindfulness, patience, wellbeing and connection. And beyond that, it fosters a deeper relationship with the creatures that call your home, their home too.

Whether in your backyard, neighbourhood or local area, sipping your morning orange juice by the kitchen window or walking a trail in your local National Park, the benefits of turning your attention to the birds, their calls and behaviours are many. Once you get started, you’ll be surprised by the little details you’ve been missing all this time. And for kids, the benefits are innumerable.

Curiosity and nature connection

Engaging in birdwatching from an early age encourages kids to spend time outdoors, develops critical observation skills, and fosters curiosity. It introduces them to the different species in their local area, their traits, calls, colours and behaviours. And nurturing this interest can instil empathy, compassion and a more profound sense of the role they have to provide in helping to maintain a healthy habitat. 

“I love watching birds because of all the different colours and sizes. Also their behaviour, like Noisy Minors are very territorial. And I like how birds have different shaped beaks based on what they eat.” Eloise, eight years old

Mental health and wellbeing

We know that time in nature can reduce stress and anxiety and improve overall health and wellbeing. Birdwatching can take it one step further, encouraging mindfulness as you tune into your surroundings to spot the different species and observe their calls and behaviours. 

Flexible, accessible and affordable

Then there’s the benefit of being able to partake almost anywhere, at any time of year, with little to no resources. As you progress, you might like to invest in binoculars, a bird identification book or a camera, but to get started, an internet connection and access to the outdoors is all you need.

Getting started

Identifying birds and even encouraging them into your backyard is easier than it may sound. Green Adelaide has some great free resources, including a list of Common Urban Birds, complete with pictures, to help you identify the different species. You could also borrow a bird identification book from your local library. Or purchase our book, Where Birds Sing and Wildflowers Dance. It’s especially helpful if your children enjoy documenting their observations through art.

So, you’ve got the list. Or book. Or both. Now what? 

  1. Look at the list to see if you recognise any birds. Have you seen them before? 
  2. In the morning or afternoon, find a comfortable place to sit by a window with a view of the outdoors, in your backyard or a local park, and take note of the birds you see. Try to identify three or four that you’re familiar with. You can tick them off the bird list, write or draw them in a nature journal or simply enjoy listening, watching and talking about your observations with your child/ren. 
  3. Once you’ve practised close to home and feel confident with the birds you see regularly, head out for a neighbourhood walk to see if you can spot new birds (species you haven’t seen before). Can you identify them? 
  4. Once you’ve grown your list of known birds in your local area, you’re ready for a birdwatching adventure. Botanic gardens, conservation parks and national parks are incredible places to test your skills and expand your knowledge. [If you have a pair] pack binoculars and a camera to help identify and document the birds you find. 

What starts as a nature scavenger hunt, searching for three to four familiar neighbourhood birds just might turn into a lifelong love of birding.