It’s a bird… It’s a plane… It’s Superman… No, wait, it really is a bird!
The popularity of birding, or birdwatching, is soaring to new heights with people of all ages and backgrounds. A family-friendly activity, birding offers the opportunity to observe birds of all kinds—from hummingbirds to loons and even exotic birds like parrots and puffins—while learning about the natural world and getting involved in conservation efforts to protect our feathered friends.
The Adirondack Park has long been a favorite destination for birdwatchers. With a variety of mountain, forest and lakeshore ecosystems, tourists and residents alike can catch a glimpse of rare species not commonly found in the rest of New York State. But you don’t need to go on an all-day hike to kickstart your family’s love for birdwatching. A trip to a local park, garden, or walk around your neighborhood can provide the chance to see birds in a variety of habitats.
Check out the videos, activities, and local resources below to learn all about the wild world of birds—their brains, beaks and even poop—and to get your family inspired to go out birdwatching together!
Grades K-3 Do you have a bird feeder in the backyard, in a neighbor’s yard, or in a nearby park? Over time, you and your child can observe birds that live in your area year-round or birds that are migrating from faraway places.
Grades 3-12 Rebecca Jaramillo is the Director of the Glen Helen Raptor Center in Yellow Springs, Ohio. She works to train and rehabilitate injured birds in hopes to release them back into the wild. Rebecca provides educational outreach to schools and the community to help them better understand how we can help birds in our ecosystem!
Grades 6-12 There’s a new kind of birdwatcher out there, and if you don’t watch out, you might be one of them. Corina Newsome introduces the irresistible world of birds and how people can become obsessed with them no matter where they live. Download apps, start your own bird list, and find your “spark bird.”
Where Do Birds Go in Winter? | It’s Okay to Be Smart
Grades 6-12 As winter approaches, V-shaped flocks glide overhead as the world’s birds begin their long treks to warmer climates. Humans used to have some pretty crazy theories about where birds went for winter, like the moon, or to the bottom of the ocean. How did we learn the real story? And where DO birds go for winter? Find out in this video from It’s Okay to Be Smart!
Grades 6-12 Birds have colonized every environment on Earth, and they come in an astonishing variety of shapes, colors, and sizes. There are more than 10,000 species of bird alive today, so how did they come to be everywhere and so diverse?
Grades 9-12 Examine experimental research that supports the idea that social relationships help drive problem solving in certain birds, similar to what has been observed in chimps and dolphins, in this video from NOVA: Bird Brain. Valérie Dufour is studying whether rooks, a type of crow, learn from one another. She sets one rook a specific task and then sees if other rooks that had watched the individual at work can repeat what they saw. Social learning—in which watching others solve a problem increases the likelihood that the watcher will solve it—is considered a complex form of learning that results from evolutionary processes.
Grades PreK-5 Some animals, like birds, build and inhabit amazingly durable nests from readily available materials in their environments. In this activity, build a one-of-a-kind nest and then snack on it afterwards!
Birds: Designers, Engineers, and Builders of Nests
Grades 3-5 With this lesson plan and accompanying media from NATURE, students explore the nest-building practices of various bird species. Using video, discussion questions, hands-on exploration, and writing assignments, students will gain an understanding of how and why birds design, engineer and build their nests to meet their needs and how their nesting is influenced by both biological and environmental factors.
Grades 3-8 You can help scientists monitor bird populations and look for patterns in bird movement by counting your local birds and submitting the data. Birds are fascinating animals to watch and it’s easy to learn how to identify them. Casual observers can use the same techniques to identify birds that scientists use.
Great Adirondack Birding Celebration Birding Trips
All Ages Organized by Paul Smith’s VIC, the Great Adirondack Birding Celebration returns from June 2-4, 2023. The 3-day event is designed to introduce birders of all ages and skill levels to the unique boreal bird species and habitats in the Adirondack Park. The celebration features birding field trips to local Important Bird Areas, with full day field trips on Friday and half day trips on Saturday and Sunday. The field trips have limited capacity so be certain to register soon!
All Ages Looking for an opportunity to try out birding? Take advantage of the Adirondack Land Trust’s“Adirondack Birding for All” program! Visit the Keene Valley Public Library and Saranac Lake Free Library to check out a free backpack stocked with high-quality binoculars and directions on how to use them, as well as the “Sibley Guide to Birds of Eastern North America” and “Adirondack Birding — 60 Great Places to Find Birds in the Adirondacks.” This program works with libraries to increase awareness and appreciation of Adirondack birds and their habitats.