Birdwatching Tourism-Children

To: "Birding-aus (List)" <>
Subject: Birdwatching Tourism-Children
From: Ros Laundon <>
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2000 20:40:06 +1000
Hello All (and Jill),

I deal with mostly 4-5 year-olds Jill, and I have never had one drop a
bino yet. (Mind you, children hardly ever drop
anything).  I always put the strap round their necks and tell them to be
gentle but they are so quick and sometimes pass them
on without help and invariably put the strap round the neck of the next
child!  We usually look at largish birds, preferably
the less 'quick' species that visit the kindy.

Sometimes I ask the children if they know some bird names and most can
name one or two but I find they are quite fascinated to
see their collective list rise to 20 or more (we keep a running count)
with more children chiming in that they "know that one
too".  By the time you ask what they (one child at a time) notice about
a bird, where that bird lives and what it does, there
is more than enough to talk about.

We usually eat outdoors on mats, being blessed with pleasant, well treed
surroundings, and that means having the company of the
resident T. Crows (usually 2).  I have made a set of rules for
coexisting with these biggish chaps which I introduce to each
new group and it works a treat.  No one 'shoos' the crows (because it
doesn't work) and  no one feeds the crows (because that
encourages them to be bold).  We test the crows to prove that they will
not come close enough to be touched so they will not
come close enough to peck us!; and we sit really still then move just a
flicker to prove that they are more wary/scared (they
are just little kids) of us than we are of them.  If anyone leaves the
mat for any reason they need to shut their lunch box
securely otherwise the crows will take advantage of a gap between people
and help themselves. I will always remember the peals
of laughter when a crow made off with a muesli bar and proceeded to
unwrap and eat it in the tree overhead.  (Yes, the muesli
bar owner was the first to laugh).  It is a delight to see the
children's growing confidence around such big birds (what a big
bill you have, Grandma!) and the relaxed way they get to study them up
close.  This self posession was more than amply
demonstrated when an amorous Wonga pigeon landed on a little girl's
head.  (Those sharp little claws!).  She was a bit scared
and gave me a shocked look but did not panic as I shooed it off. (She
received accolades for her performance).

I don't know how to help with understanding children.  They are just as
various as big people and they respond with interest to
whatever interests you: not necessarilly all of the children all of the
time, but enough.  If you are in a situation with a
group of young children and their teacher, tell the teacher (or
assistant) you have no experience in dealing with children en
mass and ask him/her to stick by you and do the 'control' function.  Any
teacher will understand totally and be glad to be

Best of luck,

> On Behalf Of Jill Dening
> Sent: Sunday, 23 January 2000 5:42
> I have thought for a long time about getting into the schools, for the
> reasons you gave. But I go to jelly at the thought of trying to teach a
> group of young kids about birds. I am hopeless with children, because I
> don't understand them much.
> How do you approach the subject with young children? Or even older
> children? How do you connect with them? And how do you get them to handle
> binos without annihilating them? I think I could learn, but I need some
> clues.
> Jill Dening

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