Winter bird watching activity for kids and familiesThis winter – give one of your days off to the birds! While the leaves may be gone from the trees and the days turned gray and dreary winter in Puget Sound can still prove a great time to get out and try your hand at bird identification!

Trees that have lost their foliage no longer stand in the way between you and your next find. Quiet, cloudy days at the park allow for the crisper travel of bird song. It’s the perfect time to try your best to identify some native species that stick around for the winter, or those that venture to winter here in Puget Sound for balmier climates than what they may have been used to.

Birding is a great, easy to begin hobby for kids and adults alike.  All you need to get started are a pair of binoculars and a field guide of your local area. These can be relatively cheap, or even better you can often check one out from your library. Field guides can help narrow down the species you may be seeing around you, give you an idea of some identifying features of birds, and even give you pictures to compare as you begin your search. Most often they even have a section that explains how to use them.

Winter Bird Watching with Kids in the Puget Sound! A fun activity to get kids outside in the winter!Next – pick a location. While even walking to your local park can be a great place to start, it can also be fun to pick a location that is known to have a large variety of birds already. This can give you ‘more bang for your buck’, so to speak and can encourage you to take that extra adventure even though a day may seem a bit dreary.  Discovery Park in Seattle is a great nearby option.  Up to 270 different species call the area home during the year and can offer a variety to see.

Make a day of it! Pack a snack, your binoculars, guide, warm clothes and a camera if you like. It can helpful to tote along some paper and something to write with. This allows you to take notes on what you see, sketch it out, or encourage your kids to journal what they may be seeing or hearing while about.  For those that are tech-saavy, there’s also some great free birding apps available like Merlin Bird ID by Cornell University, it’s a free app that can help you identify a bird based on just a few questions.