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.


Week 3
Migration
Week 4
Coming Soon
Week 5
Coming Soon

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 second video for Audubon for Kids that shows how to sketch a Eastern Screech-Owl. Get out a piece of paper and a pencil or crayon and try it yourself!

 

 

 

 

 


 

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 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!