Sunday, April 10, 2011


If you follow this blog you know I am always posting about the importance of children being active especially outdoors. For the first time on this past Friday night, we went birdwatching. Now, my first thoughts when we decided to sign up for a guided birdwatching walk were not too positive. I love the outdoors - but birdwatching sounds a bit dull. Much to my surprise, it was a unique, multisensory adventure. Since it was a guided tour, we started out with a brief PowerPoint of the species of bird we were looking for which happened to be the American Woodcock. To those unfamiliar with the bird world, this species does an amazing call and flight during mating season at dusk. I really enjoyed the brief presentation so we knew what to look and listen for on the hike.

So off we adventured, ages 7 months though about 70 years old on this guided hike. While we were hiking I realized how beneficial this was for the young children. Not only were we outdoors enjoying the fresh air and nature there was lots more to learn:
  • visual skills: keeping our eyes on the sky, we needed to be focused as to where the birds were spotted. This particular bird flies very high up into the sky out of sight and then spirals back to the ground at upwards of 30 mph. You had to keep watching to keep the bird in your sight. On one occasion the bird swooped directly over our heads. We tried using binoculars but the birds flew so fast that it was too hard to track their paths.
  • auditory skills: the guide taught us to cup our ears to be able to hear the birds better. We needed to fine tune our listening skills in order to determine if we were hearing the bird we were searching for or was it a different species.
  • self regulation: we all had to sit and wait quietly to not startle any of the birds. Since it was a guided hike, it was scheduled for the best time to see the birds. Therefore, the wait was not too long for the young ones.
  • balance skills: walking along on the uneven terrain while looking at the sky at times challenged all of our balance skills
So the next time you are looking for a different, outdoor, multi-sensory experience try birdwatching. If you can not find a guided hike, research a common bird to your area including pictures, audio of the bird call and when it is best viewed. Then off you can go with binoculars in hand to search for the species.

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