* It is totally addictive. Once you start noticing and spotting species, you can't stop!
* Children love it. It is a wonderful way for them to connect more with the natural world around them, to become better observers, and of course to learn about the native species around where they live.
* You have to be prepared to drop everything when a bird lands nearby. You don't know how long you've got to check distinctive features and grab the binoculars and field guide if you need them. I've often turned off the boiling pot on the stove or jumped up from the computer (precious time!) when a child calls me because they've spotted a new bird. It's worth it though!
* Birds often move around in couples or family groups. The two lorrikeets or the two dozen finches visiting your garden each afternoon are probably the same ones day after day. It's like having no-maintanance pets! The children grow to watch for them, enjoy putting out seed for them, and anticipate their visits.
* There are so many more species of birds native to each area than I ever imagined! It has been a joy to learn more about them alongside the children. Saraya often asks me "Is this a rare bird?" with a hopeful look in her eye. :) Not many of those yet, but you never know!
* You need a good field guide sitting in a central spot in the house to refer to when you need it. We own the "Birds of Australia - Photographic Field Guide" by Jim Flegg, and it's excellent. We often take it with us on Nature Walks too- or in the car if we're going for a picnic or day trip. You just never know when you might want it handy! Ours is often sitting on the island in our kitchen and Saraya will just sit and read it over breakfast- she knows more than I do by now, I'm sure.
* Observing and learning about birds is a lovely thing to do alongside your children. Birds also make lovely additions to my children's Nature Notebooks - one of our favourite homeschool activities. These are some of the bird illustrations Saraya has done after spotting birds in our area:
(this was a brightly coloured Moorhen- possibly not this brightly coloured, but close!)
I always ask Saraya to date and label her drawings, and sometimes she adds more written description herself or dictates to me what she would like written.
I even had a go at a Double-barred Finch last week because they have become one of my favourite little garden visitors. I keep a Nature Notebook too (as does Elijah) because it's a relaxing thing to do and nice to sit with the children and work together. I've always been a bit afraid of drawing, but copying the birds straight from the field guide is giving me more confidence!!
Do you have a favourite feathered visitor to your garden?