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Birding 101: Getting Started Birding With Seattle-Area Kids

Explore wild Northwest places with your family in search of a prize sighting

Bryony Angell

Published on: January 05, 2021

Birding 101: Getting Started Birding With Seattle-Area Kids

Girl in yellow jacket and hat with binoculars bird watching in Seattle Pacific Northwest

Start in your own backyard

“My favorite place to watch birds is my backyard,” said 7-year-old Avi Charlton of the Wedgwood neighborhood of Seattle. Avi’s interest in birds began when his dad accidentally mowed over a dark-eyed junco’s nest while doing yardwork. Avi was hooked, watching to see what happened next. “It wasn’t sad,” he says. “Two nestlings escaped, and the mom bird was scolding my dad!”

Avi has put up feeders, collected a library of field guides and participated in Seattle Audubon’s summer nature camp.

“The staff recognizes him now whenever we visit the shop!” said his mom, Gabby Charlton. “Birding has become part of our family’s life, thanks to Avi.”

Your family can get started as easily as Avi did. First, pick up a pair of binoculars and a field guide for local birds. You can purchase or rent binoculars from outdoor recreation stores or some nature shops, such as Seattle Audubon’s Nature Shop in northeast Seattle, which has an excellent selection of both optics and field guides. Having binoculars will allow you to see birds up close and will greatly enhance your time in the field.

Next, put up a bird feeder, or three. Black oil sunflower seeds will attract chickadees, finches and grosbeaks. A suet cage will bring woodpeckers and bushtits, and a hummingbird feeder will draw Anna’s hummingbirds to your house year-round. A bird bath will attract every bird imaginable. To keep visiting birds safe, put stickers or bright, dangling ribbon on the window glass near feeders, to prevent your avian friends from striking the window when coming to feed.

Encourage kids to watch birds from a respectful distance, to allow them to become comfortable with you.

Page ahead for more birding hot spots around our region.

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