Finally, More Bird Products For Kids

I've long thought that there just wasn't enough product for kids interested in birds. I can't tell you the number of times customers would come in the bird store asking for a field guide for kids--even little cardboard books on a cardinal for a two year old--get them started young! The closest and certainly most popular book with kids are Stan Tekiela's books, but there is a market for even younger field guides with good, accurate information (Yo authors and publishers: HINT, HINT, HINT).

That is starting to change, every year there is a little more new stuff geared towards kids. Many know Wild Republic from their Audubon singing birds.

Among many things, they offered a set of birds that you can paint into your own species. I saw a finished product and it looks like you can paint a cardinal, hummingbird, chickadee and goldfinch (American, not the European pictured on the box). But really, with enough paint the possibilities are limitless, the cardinal could also be a titmouse, the hummingbird could be anything from a ruby-throat to a green-breasted mango, and the two smaller birds could be painted into warblers, juncos, and dare I say it--a Henslow's sparrow? Hm, I think I would love this gift as much as any kid. I do remember that at some hobby store, someone found a plastic peregrine model for me to paint, I labored over that thing with all sorts of detail. Anyway, these are supposed to be sturdy enough to play with once the kids finish painting them.

Two different bird card games were being shown. Above are cards from Share Nature which looked to me to be a sort of bird baseball card collection. One side is a cool bird photo, the back side is a little natural history info.

The above young man is Chris, who is Vice President of Artistic Creations Limited, but is a natural born networker and eager to help out other booths. Above he is happily being a guinea pig with the Share Nature cards to brush up his western bird identification. The cards are based on Montessori teaching methods and help hone identification skills and give kids a general appreciation of birds. Kids can quiz themselves and read up on general information. Though this is geared towards kids, I could totally see this hooking some adults as well. Especially if they end up being sold like baseball cards. Some species could be rare an hard to find, "Hey, dude, I'll trade you my Baird's sparrow for your northern jacana."

Cornell also had a curriculum called Bird Sleuth. You know with all the ivory-bill craziness, I think we sometimes forget all the other cool projects that Cornell has going down. The front of the card has full color photos and the back has cool facts, sounds, size, etc. There are even questions that can be asked to help aid in the id. In the case of the killdeer card above the questions are:

Q: If a person comes near my nest, I might try to do this to lure them away?
A: Act like I have a broken wing and walk away from nest.

Q: True or False. If a cow or horse comes near my nest, I fluff myself up, put my tail over my head, and run at it to try and make it change its path.
A: True--(I didn't even know they did that--that's so cool, I must get to a cow pasture this spring).

Q: How did I get my name?
A: My call sounds like "kill-deer!"

Part of the curriculum is that kids learn about bird identification using the cards, field guides, and a bird identification CD-ROM. They learn to observe and count birds and to share that info on eBird.

I'm not sure if the two card games are going to be showing up at bird stores or are only available to teachers, but it certainly doesn't hurt to ask your local bird specialty store if they plan on carrying these items. Otherwise, I would contact Share Nature or Cornell directly.