I am often surprised by children when I go outdoors with them. Surprised at their wide smiles of glee when they discover wildlife. Yet, too often I hear from them they had no idea there was so much excitement going on outside their doors and windows.
Of course, as a habitat gardener, I think there is no better way to bond with children than to experience the wonders of Nature together.
How can you entice your child to want to spend more time with you? Have them take care of the birds! Children love to care and watch cute animals like our colorful songbirds, and winter is a great time to attract birds. During winter many trees have lost their leaves making it easier for you to spot and point out colorful songbirds. At the same time many birds are cold and hungy. Use this to your advantage.
First, take you children shopping. Make a date to have hot chocolate and go shopping online. Let them select a bird house and bird feeder of their choice.
There are so many styles to choose from! If your child is a little sailor and loves the ocean...there is a bird house for him or her. If your child is dainty and loves to dress up and imagine fairies...there is a bird house for him or her. If your child is patriotic...let him or her choose a birdhouse that reflects this taste. You will have so much fun selecting just the right bird house together and I can guarantee you will find out many things you did not know your child or grandchild was thinking about.
Feeding birds is an acitivy you can enjoy every day wth your child. There are three different ways I like to feed birds. The more varieties of feeders you have the more variety of birds you will attract. I have two tube feeders; one is for black sunflower seed, which attracts lots of small birds like finches and chickadees, and the other is for thistle seed, which attracts American Goldfinches that migrate to our area. I also have a ground or tray feeder because it attracts birds like the colorful cardinals and cute juncos who like to eat on the ground. Then, in the cold of winter, I put out a suet feeder to make sure the birds have enough fat to stay warm.
If you put the feeders near your windows, your whole family can also watch the action from inside.
Lastly, please remember to put out fresh water for the birds because, when its frozen outside, they can use all the help we can give them finding water. Purchase a bright colored watering container and your child can help fill up the bird bath with their new toy.
Wishing you and your child many happy memories observing the wonders of Nature!