Birdwatching: Science for Kids

Birdwatching: Science for Kids

Once upon a time, I was an insatiably curious young girl asking my parents ‘why?’ and my desire to understand how things worked spurred me on to study science at school and university. So, when my 6-year-old asked “Mummy, may you teach me how to be a scientist?” my heart nearly burst with pride and a small tear pricked my eye.

Armed with a pencil and a notebook, we’re going to explore the world, do some experiments and record our findings…! I’m blogging about it for The Motherload®, so you can join in with your kids too.

Now that it’s winter time and the weather has got colder, there’s been a commotion in my garden: it’s the blackbird who lives in the hedge, chirping loudly outside my kitchen window. 

The first time he did it, it took me a while to work out what was his problem. Then I realised, the water in the birdbath had frozen and he couldn’t get a drink! So, I dutifully heated some water in the kettle and used it to melt the ice away. Now, he comes every morning to remind me to defrost his water and put out some treats for him to eat: old bread crusts and bits of leftover toast, raisins and fruit. 

Mr Blackbird’s antics set me thinking about the changing seasons and a science experiment that you can do from the comfort of your own home. Each year, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) organises a Big Garden Birdwatch, when they ask people to send in information about the birds that they see in their gardens. This year, the birdwatch is on 28-30 January. All you have to do is download a pack from the website and count the birds!

To entice birds into your garden, you could make a bird cake. You need bird seed, raisins, peanuts, cheese and lard. Smoosh all the ingredients together with your fingers and press the mixture into clean yogurt pots, then put the ‘cakes’ in the fridge to set for an hour or two. When they’re ready, hang them outside. Voila! Then, grab a drink and a snack and settle down to watch the birds.

As well as the noisy blackbird, regular visitors to my garden include a pair of robins, a fat rock dove and a scruffy magpie who makes a mess of the food on the birdtable. Sometimes, we see blue tits and great tits and, for just one week each February, we receive a special visit from a family of gold finches

If you don’t have a garden at home, you could do your birdwatching at the local park. Wherever you do it, remember to take your scientist’s notebook, so you can write down or draw the birds that you spot. Repeat your observations each week or once a month and keep a record of when you do your birdwatching. Then, you can see what changes there are in the types and numbers of birds that you count throughout the year! 

Looking for more ways to explore science with your children? You can read Kate’s last blog here

About Kate

I’m 38 years old, mother of two girls, wife of one bloke and owner of one cat. I like singing, step aerobics, stationery and organising stuff. When I grow up, I’d like to write science books for children.


Twitter: @SScimum 


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