These days most kids can name more Pokémon characters than birds species. At first that might seem a bit surprising, but it actually points to something incredible. Children have an innate insatiable curiosity for learning about creatures (real or make believe) and an amazing capacity to absorb a lot of information about these creatures.
Gotta See ‘Em All!
If your child is into Pokemon – awesome! Pokémon is a perfect segue way to teaching your child about birds (and other creatures too!).
In this post I have a fun Pokémon inspired birding activity that you can do with your child. At the end of this post check out my birds watching tips for kids and my list of bird books for kids.
Let’s get started!
PokéBirds Birding Activity
For this activity you will need:
- A child that loves Pokémon
- A pile of Pokémon cards
- Information about local birds (books, apps or internet)
- The outdoors!
Step 1: Identify Flying Type Pokémon
Start by sitting with your child and identifying at all their flying type Pokémon cards, not just the ones that look like birds.
If possible, ask your child to put all the flying type Pokémon in a separate pile. Some kids have their Pokémon organized in special binders or piles and may not want to do this. That’s ok. You can just make a note of the different flying type creatures together.
While your child is going through their cards you can ask:
- What makes a Pokémon a flying type?
- What special powers do flying type Pokémon have?
- Which flying type Pokémon is your favourite? Why?
Step 2: Select Bird Type Pokémon
Flying type Pokémon creatures include things like dragons, bats, butterflies, insects, mythical creatures and birds. Together with your child identify only the Pokémon creatures that have bird like features. To get started try asking your child:
What kind of features (body parts) do birds have?
Birds have beaks, wings, feathers, two legs and lays eggs. They are not mammals or reptiles but are endothermic vertebrates – cool beans!
Check out this neat immersive What is Unique to Birds? interactive feature from the Cornell Lab Bird Academy to learn more about what makes birds unique.
Step 3: Match Pokémon to Real Birds
Get you child (or yourself) to write down the names of the bird type Pokémon you have discovered.
Next to each Pokémon creature, write down what a matching bird that lives in your area or a bird that lives somewhere in our world. You can be general (a woodpecker) or specific to your area (red-breasted sapsucker).
Use bird identification books, birding apps (Audubon Birding app, eBird, MerlinBird ID) or the internet to help you and your child decide which bird is the best match.
If you have multiple kids doing this, get them to work together and see what they come up with.
Here is handy (free) printable PokéBird Checklist!
You might be surprised to see that many bird-like Pokémon are similar to common to birds that live in your backyard or nearby park. Here are some possible answers.
- Ducklett (duck)
- Fletchling (robin)
- Hawlucha (hawk)
- Noctowl (owl)
- Pidove (pigeon)
- Pikipek (woodpecker)
- Rufflet (eagle)
- Spearrow (sparrow)
- Starly (starling)
- Swablu (bluebird)
- Swanna (swan)
- Taillow (swallow)
- Vullaby (vulture)
- Wingull (seagull)
Step 4: Gotta See ‘Em All!
Now it’s time to turn this into a real life PokéBird adventure! Bring the list, Pokémon cards and bird identification guide and see how many of these birds you can find outside.
Try to visit different locations and put a check-mark by the birds you find. This project will most likely take several days or maybe even weeks to complete especially if your child added penguin or toucan to their list!
Optional: My Birding Notes
For kids that like to keep nature journals, print off some off these My Birding Notes printable (free) to bring along. Your child can keep them in a binder and make their very own bird identification guide.
*This journal page is an excerpt from My Spring Nature Journal, a 161 pages nature journal for kids between the ages of 8 and 12. You can learn more about My Spring Nature Journal HERE or get it HERE.
Bird Watching Tips for Kids
- Visit different places. Different birds like to live in different places. Ducks and seagulls like to live near water. Robins enjoy parks, gardens or backyards. Woodpeckers hang around trees and wooden telephone poles.
- Use your eyes and ears. If you can’t see any birds encourage your child to stop and listen. Follow the sounds to find birds.
- Try binoculars. Binoculars can help kids see birds close up. If you decide to buy binoculars, look for binoculars that are easy for kids to use. Look for binoculars that have a wide field of view (30 or 32 mm) with a lower zoom power (6 or 7x)).
- Set up a bird feeder. Bring the birds to you by setting up a birdfeeder near your home (and out of reach of neighbourhood cats!)
- Download a birding app like eBird and Merlin Bird ID.
- Participate in a bird count. Take part in the Audubon Great Backyard Bird Count.
- Read books about birds. There are so many good books about birds for kids. I’ve listed several below.
Birds Books for Kids
- Backyard Birds (Field Guides for Young Naturalists) by Karen Stray Nolting and Jonathan Latimer
- Birds: A Fully Illustrated, Authoritative and Easy-to-Use Guide by Herbert Zim and Ira Gabrielson
- Birds from Head to Tail by Stacey Roderick
- Birds, Nests & Eggs (Take Along Guides) by Mel Boring
- Bird Watching for Kids: Bite-sized Learning & Backyard Projects by George H. Harrison
- Have You Heard the Nesting Bird? by Rita Gray
- My Book of Birds by Geraldo Valério
- National Geographic Kids Bird Guide of North America by Jonathan Alderfer
- The Bird that Loved the Mountain by Eric Carle
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