Homemade Bird Food
Grab the binoculars and head out on a birding expedition.
- Bird feeders:You and your kid.
- Birdseed or duck feed:Make your own out of popcorn, raisins, apples seeds, grapes or fruit slices. And we all know ducks love plain old bread.
- A brown paper lunch or Ziploc bag:To carry the birdseed in.
- A bird field guide or Web resource:Optional, but will add coveted "educational value" to your walk. Check out whatbird.com to help identify what kind of bird you spotted. Just input the bird's various attributes (like size, color, habitat, bill length, etc.) using their nifty software and it'll clue you in to what you saw.
- A notepad or digital camera:To help your kid remember exactly what all the birds looked like.
- Have your kid help you raid the cupboard and fridge to see what you can use to make up a batch of birdseed. Great choices are popped popcorn, hulled sunflower seeds, soaked raisins, apple seeds, grapes and/or orange slices (orioles love 'em!). Or just head out with a hot dog smothered in relish and ketchup and a bag of Fritos if you're going pigeon feeding.
- Grab a pair of binoculars and ask your kid where he thinks he's most likely to spot some birds. Then head in that direction.
- When he spots some birds or ducks, have him scatter the birdfeed and then step back to give the critters a little space to dine.
- If you have a field guide on you, try to help your kid identify the different birds you see. If he seems particularly into bird watching (or you just won the Lotto) you might want to spring for the pricey National Geographic Handheld Birds Software for your PDA. It helps you identify birds on site without toting a cumbersome field guidebook along with you. Birdwatchers are bonkers for the new technology. Not willing to fork over the big bucks for your kids (most likely) fleeting hobby? Pick up a copy of the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America for under 25 bucks. Or have your kid snap a picture or sketch an image of what you've seen and head home to surf whatbird.com to identify the birds. Who knows, you may be cultivating a life long love of bird watching (and no, that doesn't automatically make your kid a geek).
- Please make sure to stick to the recommended birdseed ingredients above. Some foods can be dangerous, even fatal, to our little feathered friends. You should avoid chocolate, avocado, rhubarb leaves, liquor, caffeine (including coffee grounds) and salt completely.