My six year old grandson is taking over my blog today and posting the bird photographs HE TOOK while birding with me, Grandpa, yesterday morning at the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge.
It is important to teach the younger generation a love for nature. From an early age all of my grandchildren (four to date) have enjoyed Grandpa’s bird feeders. When visiting, they enjoy seeing from a very short distance (our window seat) all kinds of brightly colored birds about which I am only to happy to point out and give quick mini lectures. Recently I was pleased to learn from my daughter that my oldest two grandchildren, ages 5 and 6, now often talk about birds around their own home. This discovery led me to take the oldest yesterday on a birding / photography expedition. Here are some of my “own ground rules” which I believe led to a very successful outing:
- Wildlife Drive was a great location for our trip. It allowed us to use the car to see lots of birds, but still get out of the car often enough to “get the wiggles out”.
- We arrived early, leaving the house at 6:30 am. This early arrival insured birds were active and almost no other cars had disturbed the birds. We often saw sandhill cranes and pheasants less than ten yards ahead of the car on the road.
- A one way “slow” dirt road allowed Ben to sit up front when we arrived at Sherburne. I don’t think he had ever been allowed to sit “up front”!
- I gave him a camera and pair of binoculars to use as he desired, with me providing minimal instruction. I wanted him to enjoy the experience w/o Grandpa turning it into a major instructional session.
- I quickly learning that ducks were not the most interesting bird to Ben. He has seen many, many mallards in his life, and to him the different kinds of ducks were hard to differentiate.
- Color is important in terms of bird enjoyment for young children. He really liked Bluebirds, Red-Winged Blackbirds and Meadowlarks.