Me and my nephews Mike and Sam visiting with the education barn owl at the University of Minnesota's Raptor Center. These brave little soldiers sat through a bird banding class that Amber and I taught on Sunday...and I think they may have even enjoyed it.
Yesterday at the MOU Paper Session book sale I found several copies of a book I was given when I was about 8 years old. I was already mildly interested in birds and this book helped seal the deal. It was produced by National Geographic and is called "The Wonder of Birds". It is full of wonderful up close photos of North American birds. This book is also where the infamous Mad Bluebird Photo debuted.
There are sections on migration, bird banding, conservation, bill shapes, nesting and just a little bit of everything. One of the essays is by my personal favorite ornithologist, Paul Johnsgard. My original copy of this book is well worn and beyond repair so I bought a new copy and enjoyed looking at photos of birds that I dreamed of being able to see as a kid and marveled at how many of the things in the book I have been fortunate enough to witness like visiting a peregrine nest box on a skyscraper, seeing a pelican colony, watching prairie chickens dance and fight, and seeing adult bald eagles feed on a snow goose carcass--all these great photos are in here. I can't recommend this book enough for kids.
Anyway, if you are looking for a great (and inexpensive) gift to give to a kid you would like to try and hook into birding, this is a great book. I looked at the photos in this book until I was 12 and that's when I actually read it. Even though it's 20 years old, much of the information is still relevant.
It's out of print and incredibly cheap on the internet.