Illustration: Alex Tomlinson

Audubon for Kids!

In many ways every child is born a scientist—exploring their world, leading small experiments, asking questions, searching for answers. That innate curiosity and drive to inquiry is what Rachel Carson, the groundbreaking conservationist and author, called a sense of wonder. “A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement,” she wrote. “It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood.”

This page aims to bring together activities from across Audubon’s national network of environmental educators, including the classroom curriculum Audubon Adventures, plus related DIY activities and content from Audubon’s editors. These activities can be done at home or in a yard or park, sometimes with the help of a computer. The goal isn’t to teach a child how to name and identify bird species, but rather to give them space to explore and feel connected to the natural world. If you’re a parent or caretaker, that means you don’t need to worry about your own knowledge of birds or plants. All you need to be is a companion to your child’s curiosity.

“If a child is to keep their inborn sense of wonder, they need the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with them the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in,” Rachel Carson wrote in 1956. We hope these lessons, which we’ll refresh each week with a new theme, will help you you find awe and inspiration in nature together. Disponible en Español: ¡Audubon para niños!


Week 10: Let's Change Climate Change

Planet Earth is getting warmer faster than ever before because of a buildup of greenhouse gases in the air. Greenhouse gases are produced by Earth’s natural systems and they help make the planet a place where plants, animals, and people can live. But lately people are making too many greenhouse gases, causing the Earth to grow warmer. That’s causing problems for all living things.

 

For birds, climate change can make it hard to find food, and to find places to build their nests and raise their babies. Luckily, we can help. The most important thing is to join together with other people who care about climate change in a climate party. We have to make some big changes, and the only way we can do that is by working together. So tell your family and friends why you care about climate change and why it's important to protect birds.

 

 

 

atmosphere

the layer of gases that surround Earth

weather

temporary atmospheric conditions. Examples: snowstorms and blizzards, rainy days, hot days, cold days, hurricanes, and tornadoes

climate

the general weather in an area over many years. While some places may still experience cold weather, the overall climate on Earth is getting warmer

fossil fuels

energy sources that come from coal, oil, and natural gas. When we burn fossil fuels for energy, we add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere

greenhouse gases

Like a greenhouse, these gases trap heat from the sun. Too many greenhouse gases cause Earth’s climate to get too warm

carbon dioxide

a greenhouse gas released when we burn fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide builds up in the atmosphere and warms the planet

 


 

Draw a Bird with David Sibley

You don’t need to go outside to get to know birds: Try drawing them instead. David Sibley, the ornithologist who wrote and illustrated The Sibley Guide to Birds, created a video for Audubon for Kids that shows how to sketch a Saltmarsh Sparrow. Get out a piece of paper and a pencil or crayon and try it yourself!
Share your art on Instagram: #SketchWithSibley @audubonsociety.

 

 

 

 

 


 

Create Your Own Bird Guide

Every birder needs a field guide—a book featuring pictures and descriptions of bird species. Each week, pick a bird that lives near you. It could be a bird you saw outside or one you’ve never seen before. Then draw and color a picture of the bird on a piece of paper. Use information in the Audubon Bird Guide to write about the bird’s appearance, where it lives, what it eats, and how it gets its food, and include your favorite facts about its behavior. Keep your pages in a safe place so that later on you can staple them together and—ta-da!—you've just made your very own bird guide.


Week 9: Sharing Our Shores

Many families love to spend a day near the shore: sunshine, cool breeze, waves rolling in over white sand or splashing over rocks. The shore is a special place where the land and sea meet. People flock to beaches to play, relax, and enjoy the beauty of nature.

 

Birds and other animals are part of the nature of seashores that people love. Shorebirds and other coastal birds soar, dive, skitter back and forth, or stand in groups above the water line. For them, the seashore is a source of food, a restful stopover on a long migratory journey, and often a place to nest and raise their chicks right there on the sand. Learning about the interesting and challenging lives of shorebirds and how to respect and protect them and the habitat we share gives us one more reason to love a trip to the beach.

 

 

 

Learn the Lingo

plover

a bird with pointed wings and a short bill that searches for food along the shore

shore

the area next to a body of water, such as a sea or lake

scrape

a bird’s nest that is a hollowed-out place in the sand

beach hopper

a small creature with a tough shell that live on beaches, usually in washed-up seaweed, and hop like fleas; also called sand hopper, sand flea, beach flea

dune

a hill of sand formed by wind near an ocean or large lake

camouflage

coloring and patterns that make an animal or object blend in with its surroundings


Draw a Bird with David Sibley

You don’t need to go outside to get to know birds: Try drawing them instead. David Sibley, the ornithologist who wrote and illustrated The Sibley Guide to Birds, created a video for Audubon for Kids that shows how to sketch a Long-billed Curlew. Get out a piece of paper and a pencil or crayon and try it yourself!
Share your art on Instagram: #SketchWithSibley @audubonsociety.

 

 

 

 

 

Week 8: Seabirds: Feathered Ocean Travelers

Seabirds are birds that spend most of their lives on water. This group includes pelicans, puffins, terns, skimmers, albatrosses, penguins, and others. They have remarkable characteristics that allow them to survive in the often harsh conditions they face at sea, like waterproof feathers and special organs that make it possible for them to drink saltwater. Some have extra layers of fat to insulate them against cold Arctic and Antarctic waters. Some “fly” underwater to catch their food, while others dive headfirst into the water to catch fish.


Do you have to live near the ocean to catch a glimpse of a seabird? No! Some seabirds can be spotted near freshwater lakes. Some migrate thousands of miles over water and land between the places they raise their young and the places they spend the winter. 

 

 

Peek Inside a Puffin Burrow

Every year, during late spring, Atlantic Puffins fly in from the sea to nest on Seal Island off the coast of Maine. They dig a burrow and lay a single egg inside. After it hatches, the parents take turns flying to the ocean to catch fish and bring it back to their chick. Six weeks later, the chick leaves the nest and returns to the sea with its parents.
 

Project Puffin has a webcam inside a nest burrow! Watch this video to see a puffin chick grow up.

 

Which Seabird Do You See?

 

Double-crested Cormorant

 

Least Tern

 

Razorbill

 

Nazca Booby

 

Rockhopper Penguin

 

Laysan Albatross

 

Adélie Penguin

 

Atlantic Puffin

Photos clockwise from top left: Susan Hodgson; Fabiola Forns; Jean Hall; Dakota Wheeler; Kevin Vande Vusse; Andrea Storrs; Nonnie Thompson; Roslyn Meyer. All Audubon Photography Award


Draw a Bird with David Sibley

You don’t need to go outside to get to know birds: Try drawing them instead. David Sibley, the ornithologist who wrote and illustrated The Sibley Guide to Birds, created a video for Audubon for Kids that shows how to sketch an Atlantic Puffin. Get out a piece of paper and a pencil or crayon and try it yourself!
Share your art on Instagram: #SketchWithSibley @audubonsociety.

 

 

 

 

 

Week 7: The Watery World of Wading Birds

When you’re a bird that gets its food from water but can’t swim, several physical traits come in handy: extra-long legs for keeping your feathers dry when hunting in shallow water; an extra-long neck and extra-long beak for reaching out to grab (or stab) a critter; and spread-out toes on big feet for keeping your balance and walking in mud without getting stuck. The birds with these characteristics are called wading birds. They include herons, egrets, cranes, storks, ibises, and spoonbills.

 

Wading birds are found throughout the United States, and they all live near a body of fresh or saltwater. Their diet usually includes critters that live in and under water—fish and frogs, for example. But you might also see one of these birds stalking lizards, insects, and even small mammals and other birds.

 

 

Whoop for Whooping Cranes!

At 5 feet tall, the Whooping Crane is one of North America's tallest birds. It's also one of the rarest. In 1941, only 15 Whooping Cranes were left in the entire world. People who cared about the cranes worked very hard to bring them back. They asked hunters to not shoot the endangered species. They also saved the watery places wading birds live. Because of their hard work, there are nearly 400 Whooping Cranes alive today.


Christine Lin, social media producer for Audubon, went to Texas to see Whooping Cranes in the wild. Watch this video she made of her journey.

 

Meet the Feet!

American Avocet
Roseate Spoonbill
Tricolored Heron
Scarlet Ibis
Reddish Egret
Clapper Rail

Illustrations: John James Audubon/National Audubon Society


Draw a Bird with David Sibley

You don’t need to go outside to get to know birds: Try drawing them instead. David Sibley, the ornithologist who wrote and illustrated The Sibley Guide to Birds, created a video for Audubon for Kids that shows how to sketch a Great Blue Heron. Get out a piece of paper and a pencil or crayon and try it yourself!
Share your art on Instagram: #SketchWithSibley @audubonsociety.

 

 

 

 

 

Week 6: Raptors! The Birds of Prey

Hawks, eagles, falcons, ospreys, owls, harriers: These are the raptors, also known as birds of prey. “Prey” refers to the fact that these birds are hunters. But what sets them apart from other birds that eat living animals for food, like an American Robin tugging an earthworm from the soil? One difference is the type and size of the prey. Birds of prey eat lizards, snakes, fish, mice, rabbits, and skunks, and even other birds.

 

Another difference is found in their other name. "Raptor" comes to us from the Latin word that means “to seize and carry away." That’s what birds of prey do: They use powerful feet to catch and carry animals away. Raptors fascinate people because of their skill and strength. When you take a closer look, these birds are wonders of nature and play an important role in Earth’s ecosystems.

 

 

Talking About Talons

All raptors share something in common: talons. Talons are the sharp, hooked claws on raptors' feed used to grasp prey.

In this video, learn about talons and meet some birds that have them. These birds live at the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland, Florida, which is a rehabilitation center for raptors. 

 

Learn the Lingo

food chain

the relationships among a group of living things based on the flow of energy from food

predator

an animal that hunts other animals for food

prey

an animal that is hunted by another animal for food

raptor

a type of bird, such as an eagle or a hawk, that has a strong beak and sharp talons for catching live prey

owlet

a young owl

ecosystem

a community of plants and animals interacting with each other and their environment


Draw a Bird with David Sibley

You don’t need to go outside to get to know birds: Try drawing them instead. David Sibley, the ornithologist who wrote and illustrated The Sibley Guide to Birds, created a video for Audubon for Kids that shows how to sketch a Bald Eagle. Get out a piece of paper and a pencil or crayon and try it yourself!
Share your art on Instagram: #SketchWithSibley @audubonsociety.

 

 

 

 

 

Week 5: Hooray for Hummingbirds!

 

 

It’s like a fast-moving, flying, whirring, shimmering jewel. What could it be? A hummingbird! When you see a hummingbird, you know instantly what it is.
 

Hummingbirds are flying acrobats. They can hover in one spot, fly forward and backwards, side to side, straight up and down, and even upside-down.
 

Hummingbirds are small. The Bee Hummingbird is the smallest bird in the world—about two inches from bill to tail.
 

Hummingbirds hum . . . sort of. That buzzy/hummy sound you hear when a hummingbird flies by comes from its rapidly beating wings—between 20 and almost 100 times per second.

 

 

Hummingbirds Are Mesmerizing

In this video, filmed at Strawberry Plains Audubon Center in Holly Springs, Mississippi, hummingbirds flit around and drink from a nectar feeder.

 

Put on some headphones or turn up the volume and take a few minutes to relax and enjoy the sounds of hummingbirds!

 

 

 

 

Meet the Flying Jewels

These eight hummingbirds all live in the United States. Do you know their names?

 

 

Allen's Hummingbird

 

Calliope Hummingbird

 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

 

Costa's Hummingbird

 

Black-chinned Hummingbird

 

Anna's Hummingbird

 

Rufous Hummingbird

 

Broadtailed Hummingbird

Photos clockwise from top left: Barry Schirm; Dan Tracy; Will Stuart; Belen Schneider; Roger Levien; Boe Baty; Keith Dines; Richard Pick. All Audubon Photography Awards.

Help the hummingbird get up to speed!

About 1 flap per second

 

Draw a Bird with David Sibley

You don’t need to go outside to get to know birds: Try drawing them instead. David Sibley, the ornithologist who wrote and illustrated The Sibley Guide to Birds, created a video for Audubon for Kids that shows how to sketch a Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Get out a piece of paper and a pencil or crayon and try it yourself!
Share your art on Instagram: #SketchWithSibley @audubonsociety.

 

 

 

 

 

Week Four: Plants Are for the Birds!

A healthy habitat with native trees and plants—the ones that have evolved in that place along with the other living things there—is key to making birds feel at home. Plants provide protection from weather and predators, and offer places to roost at night. Seeds, nuts, fruit, and flower nectar are food sources all year long. And when it comes time to lay eggs, birds use trees and plants to build nests—and hide them, too.

 

But there’s more! Trees host the protein-rich insects that baby birds need to grow. Science has shown that native trees and plants support far more insects than non-native species. Bottom line, a healthy habitat dominated by native trees and other plants means birds and other wildlife can thrive, and the same is true for another organism: human beings.

 

 

Plants at Work Crossword Puzzle!

How much do you know about the links between birds and plants?

 

Hint: You can find all the answers in the Audubon Adventures issue "Plants Are for the Birds!"
and its introduction to photosynthesis.

 

 


Stumped? Find the answer key here.


What Do Birds Eat?

Quiz yourself on the favorite foods of these North American birds!
Click on a songbird's photo to see its name and what it eats on the back.

 

 

Dark-eyed Junco: Searches the ground for insects in summer and seeds in winter.

 

Northern Cardinal: Eats most kinds of seeds, insects, berries, and wild fruit—and even flowers!

 

Blue Jay: Eats many nuts, seeds, fruit, and insects. Stores acorns in holes in the ground.

 

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker: Pecks at tree bark to feed on sap. Also finds ants and other insects.

 

Lesser Goldfinch: Mostly seeds, especially from the daisy family. Eats a few insects.

 

Mountain Chickadee: Hunts for insects high in treetops. Also eats seeds and berries.

 

Yellow-rumped Warbler: Seeks insects in foliage or catches them in midair. Eats berries, too.

 

Baltimore Oriole: Insects, berries, nectar. Will even eat the hairy caterpillars!

Photos clockwise from top left: len Hart/Great Backyard Bird Count; William Burns/Audubon Photography Awards; Patricia Dortch/Great Backyard Bird Count; Jennifer Upchurch/Great Backyard Bird Count; Mark Boyd/Audubon Photography Awards; Brian Kushner; Robin Agarwal/Flickr (CC-BY-NC-2.0); Chris Orr/Great Backyard Bird Count


Draw a Bird with David Sibley

You don’t need to go outside to get to know birds: Try drawing them instead. David Sibley, the ornithologist who wrote and illustrated The Sibley Guide to Birds, created a video for Audubon for Kids that shows how to sketch an American Goldfinch. Get out a piece of paper and a pencil or crayon and try it yourself!
Share your art on Instagram: #SketchWithSibley @audubonsociety.

 

 

 

Week Three: Birds on the Move

Every year in spring and fall, millions of birds migrate, taking to the air to travel between their summer and winter homes. It’s a relatively short trip for some. Others travel thousands of miles, sometimes flying for days without landing. Different birds use different skills to get where they need to go. Some learn from their parents. Others use landmarks, sound, the sun and stars, or Earth’s magnetic field to find their way.

No matter where you live, birds migrate through or to your neighborhood. They may stay for a short time, stopping to rest and refuel on their way to someplace else. Or your neighborhood may be the destination for certain species, where they will nest and raise their young in spring and summer, or pass the cold months of fall and winter in a warmer climate. 

Learn the Lingo

migrate

to relocate from one habitat to another in a regular cycle

flyway

the route birds follow as they migrate

habitat

a place in which an organism is normally able to find the resources it needs for survival

stopover

a place where migratory animals spend time during their migration

navigate

to find the way from one place to another

instinct

the natural behavior of an animal in response to environmental factors or other influences


Draw a Bird with David Sibley

You don’t need to go outside to get to know birds: Try drawing them instead. David Sibley, the ornithologist who wrote and illustrated The Sibley Guide to Birds, created a video for Audubon for Kids that shows how to sketch a Arctic Tern. Get out a piece of paper and a pencil or crayon and try it yourself!
Share your art on Instagram: 
#SketchWithSibley @audubonsociety.

 

 

 

 

 


Week Two: Owl Prowl

When it comes to birds, owls are big attention-getters, with their huge eyes, razor-sharp beak, and powerful feet with piercing talons. Their haunting calls echoing through the dark give us chills. Owls are also symbols of wisdom, making them popular characters in ancient myths and modern stories.

Owls are categorized as raptors, or birds of prey. They are predators, and the animals they catch and feed on are prey. In other words, they’re hunters. Their diets range from insects and worms to small mammals, reptiles, fish, crustaceans, and even other birds. Like other raptors—eagles, hawks, falcons, kites—owls grab their prey with their feet. Their hunting skills are enhanced by their keen eyesight, excellent hearing, and special feathers on the edges of their wings for flying silently after unsuspecting prey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Some Amazing Owls!

The John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove is home to fascinating resident owls. These birds are badly injured and unable to survive in the wild, so now they are part of Audubon Pennsylvania's education program. Get to know the owls with Audubon staffers Carrie Barron and Christine Lin in this video series, starting with this episode on owl anatomy. Watch Episode 1 to see an Eastern Screech Owl eat a mouse. Our hosts dissect an owl pellet in Episode 2.
 



Whoooos who?

Quiz yourself to learn your North American owl species by sight!

Click on an owl’s photo to see the species name on the back.

 

Burrowing Owl

 

Barred Owl

 

Barn Owl

 

Eastern Screech-Owl

 

Great Gray Owl

 

Snowy Owl

 

Great Horned Owl

 

Northern Saw-whet Owl

Photos clockwise from top left: Jolie Gordon, Paul Lesko, Randy Heaton, Robert Strickland, Matt Scott, Ed MacKerrow, John Adolph, Barbara Fleming. All Audubon Photography Awards.

Draw a Bird with David Sibley

You don’t need to go outside to get to know birds: Try drawing them instead. David Sibley, the ornithologist who wrote and illustrated The Sibley Guide to Birds, created a video for Audubon for Kids that shows how to sketch an Eastern Screech-Owl. Get out a piece of paper and a pencil or crayon and try it yourself!

Share your art on Instagram: #SketchWithSibley @audubonsociety.

 

 

 

 

 


Week One: Get to Know Birds

Do you love animals, including wildlife? Then you just might want to get to know the wildlife you probably see every day: birds. There are many special things about birds. For one, they have feathers. No other animal has them. Birds come in an amazing variety of colors and sizes. That’s another special thing about birds—diversity.

 

How do you describe a bird? You may describe its colors and color pattern, the size and shape of the beak, or what its legs and feet look like. These are called field marks. Field marks are clues that people use to help them identify a bird. When you become comfortable recognizing field mark clues, you can begin to identify specific kinds of birds. So, grab a field guide or open an app, or go outside if you can. When you spot a bird, take a closer look.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learn the Lingo

field mark

a characteristic that helps identify a bird, such as color, color pattern, size, tail shape, leg length, size and shape of beak, kind of feet, and so on

wildlife

wild animals living in nature

species

a group of plants or animals that share certain characteristics and are able to breed and reproduce their own kind

diversity

the condition of having many different kinds of things, such as people, plants, and animals

beak

the hard, horny part of a bird’s mouth; also called bill

roost

for birds, to settle down to rest or sleep; a place where birds settle down to rest or sleep


Draw a Bird with David Allen Sibley

You don’t need to go outside to get to know birds: Try drawing them instead. David Allen Sibley, the ornithologist who wrote and illustrated The Sibley Guide to Birds, created this short video for Audubon for Kids that shows how to sketch a Black-capped Chickadee—a teeny, acrobatic songbird. Get out a piece of paper and a pencil or crayon and try it yourself!

Share your art on Instagram: #SketchWithSibley @audubonsociety.