Birding with the Kids | Kids VT | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Please support our work!

Donate  Advertise

Birding with the Kids 

Published June 3, 2014 at 3:00 p.m.

  • courtesy of audubon vermont

What do red-winged blackbirds, ruby-throated hummingbirds, cedar waxwings and turkey vultures have in common? They're all bird species you can see this month in Vermont.

Many feathered friends who flew south during the colder months come back to the state in May, which makes June an ideal time to observe and learn about the more than 200 species of birds that live in our area. Montpelier's North Branch Nature Center and the Green Mountain Audubon Center and the Birds of Vermont Museum, both of which are in Huntington, are great places for family-focused, birding nature walks, story times and programs.

When it comes to birdwatching with kids, though, Audubon naturalist Gwen Causer says the best place to start is your own backyard. Here are some of her tips for making birding a family affair. K

click to enlarge Red-winged Blackbirds
  • Red-winged Blackbirds

Birding Tips

  • Set up bird feeders on your property to attract species including chickadees, goldfinches, sparrows and cardinals. If you're in an area with bears that are active in the summer, plant bird-friendly shrubs such as elderberry, dogwood and viburnum in lieu of feeders. To attract a specific species, research the type of feeder, and food, they prefer. For example, cardinals like large, wide feeders, such as platform feeders, with ample room to perch.
  • In addition to feeding birds, it's also a good idea to provide a water source for them, like a birdbath or a water mister.
  • Build a nesting box and mount it on a tree or pole, avoiding areas that get lots of direct sunlight or where pesticides have been used. Purchase a kit online or find directions to make your own box at
  • Bird cams allow you to watch live streams of owls, hawks, herons and more. They can be found at, a website run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
  • Watch a bird's behavior before you try to identify its type. Is it collecting food? Gathering material to make a nest? Removing eggshells or bird droppings from a nest? Make a journal to record observations and drawings.
  • click to enlarge Cedar Waxwings
    • Cedar Waxwings
  • Binoculars can be frustrating for the under-6 set. Make a junior version using toilet-paper rolls, duct tape and yarn.
  • Learn different bird songs with your kids. There are lots of fun mnemonic devices you can use to remember different calls. For example, barred owls say, "Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you alllll?" Song sparrows sing, "Maids, maids, maids, put on your tea kettle-ettle-ettle-ettle-ettle."
  • Find a list of family-friendly birding spots at

This article was originally published in Seven Days' monthly parenting magazine, Kids VT.

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

About The Author

Alison Novak

Alison Novak

Alison is the former managing editor at Kids VT, Seven Days' parenting publication and writes about education for Seven Days.

Speaking of KidsVT - Project,


Comments are closed.

From 2014-2020, Seven Days allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we've appreciated the suggestions and insights, right now Seven Days is prioritizing our core mission — producing high-quality, responsible local journalism — over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.

Latest in Kids VT

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative

All content © 2024 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401

Advertising Policy  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us  |  About Us  |  Help
Website powered by Foundation