In honor of Earth Day on April 22, 2019, I wanted to write this post.
There are so many positive effects from getting outside and enjoying all nature has to offer. Bird watching is at the top of my list. Birds are everywhere, making them accessible no matter where you live. Especially for kids, regular exposure to nature improves cognitive functioning (including increased concentration, greater attention capacities, and higher academic performance), better motor coordination, reduced stress levels, increased social interaction with adults and other children, and improved social skills. When should you introduce these feathered friends to young children? As soon as you start reading them bedtime stories, at the age when they start recognizing colors, shapes and other animals. Birds are all around us and can be pointed out throughout the day, making bird-watching an easy, free hobby.
I’ve written a children’s book, Orchard Birds, for this purpose—I hope parents will begin a deep-rooted, lifetime journey with their kids and bird-watching. It may sound arbitrary, but in my own life when I get together with my parents, we gather for a cookout and enjoy the variety of birds visiting the feeders. Even my kids point them out.
At several book signings, I had moms and teachers come to my table and suggest Orchard Birds would be a great educational tool, making it a wonderful addition to a school library, a home school, or on a grandparent’s book shelf. Another reason I wrote Orchard Birds is because I wanted a storybook setting that snuck in a few bird facts. Also, I couldn’t find anything written in this style on the market. Teaching children the soothing hobby of bird-watching, I believe, can set them up for a lifetime of coping in a sometimes harsh world.
I came across a great article by Karen Stephens with more information on how bird-watching helps children become nature-wise.
“Children are fascinated by nature discovery. When parents revisit natural wonders through the eyes of children, we’re reminded that life, when all is said and done, is still infinitely remarkable. Taking time to really get to know the birds who share our habitat is a wonderful pastime for families. It’s good, clean fun, and builds values of respect and compassion for nature and all living things. Though most of us don’t live in the thick of natural resources, almost any habitat has a variety of birds to capture children’s interest. Any time of year is good for viewing birds. Each season offers new insights on how birds cope within the environment. During spring and fall, mass migration of some birds takes place — an outstanding phenomenon. How DO hummingbirds make it across continents without burning themselves out? Children begin to notice similaries and differences in birds and that builds their skill for identifying birds. But the really fun part of bird watching (or as some call it: birding) is observing bird behavior. With experience, kids refine skills in concentration, observation, and reasoning. And they learn to deduce the hows and whys of bird behavior. In fact, observing birds in action — whether it be comical or combative — is much more fun than just rattling off names! Whether you live among subdivisions, cornfields, woodlots, or near a river, lake, or stream, you can put these bird watching basics to good use with your kids. It’s the stuff family ties are forged on.”
More from Karen Stephens
Something I read in Anthony William’s book Medical Medium about bird watching truly touched me. He said, “Bird-watching is a healing activity simply because it takes you into nature. When you truly focus on seeing and hearing the birds, though, you elevate it to one of the most enlightening mediations you can perform.
Birdsong is the most sacred form of music: birds sing the songs of the angels and the heavens. Birdsong mends a fractured soul and can reverse disease. This is because the frequency of these melodies resonates deep within our DNA, which allows it to reconstruct the body on a cell level. If you listen to the birds with respect and appreciation and don’t take them for granted, there’s no doubt that your life will start to transform.
Observing birds is powerful, too. Here on earth, our souls can become caged up and our spirits suppressed. When we witness birds’ freedom in flight, it ignites and unleashes the spirit and breaks the cage of the soul.”
I hope some of these inspiring words move you to take up bird-watching with your family. And if you decide to read Orchard Birds and enjoy it, the greatest compliment you can give me is leaving a review on Amazon so others will hear about the book.
“Study Nature, love Nature, stay close to Nature. It will never fail you.” Frank Lloyd Wright