Birding Basics — Online Meeting

Spring is a great time to introduce your Sparks/Brownies/Guides to birding! Early spring is really the best time, because the birds are very busy and you can see them more clearly with no leaves, or only buds on the trees. However, there is never really a bad time to start learning about birding!

This online activity has been reformatted from the GIRLS FIRST platform activity of the same name and adapted for easier onlineability. It includes the original GF material, plus a Kahoot! game and a crafting activity. It most closely aligns with the Nature Discoveries badge. It could be a whole one-hour meeting or just part of one. For my Brownies, we did it with an extra activity tucked in at the beginning

The Meeting

What You’ll Need:

  • Cardboard of some kind: My Brownies have used cereal boxes, wine boxes, Amazon Boxes, Greeting Cards, etc.
  • String/yarn/ribbon
  • Paper (Scrap paper works well)
  • Glue
  • Hole Punch
  • Check out this article for how to make a journal: Upcycled Brownie Journal

I start by asking my Brownies this “riddle” My wings are grey, my head is black and my belly is orangey red. Who am I?” then show them a picture of a Robin. This is the best bird to start out with, because most of your girls will know this bird on sight. You could continue riddling with them, with other birds if they are enjoying it.

I’m an American robin! American robins are just one of the hundreds of species of birds that you can find in Canada. Birdwatching is a great activity to do when you’re outside. All you need is patience, a quiet spot and great observation skills.

Build your birdwatching skills by learning about the birds that live around you and then head outdoors to listen and look for them.

You can also discuss with the, tht Birding is a very popular hobby. Some of the common tools for birding are: Binoculars, a field guide (a book or online, show them your field guide book if you have one), appropriate clothing for the natural environment, and a notebook to record sightings.

Direct them to their printed copies of Types of Birds and Parts of a Bird (found in the list of things you’ll need, above). Have a look over the sheets and encourage discussion with leads like:

Chat about the birds and what makes each one unique. For example, one thing that makes swallows unique is their forked tail.

Pick a bird on the ‘Types of Birds’ sheet and see if you can get your group to guess the bird by describing what it looks like. You can use the ‘Parts of the Bird’ sheet to help you describe it.

Once they are familiar with the types of birds, head over to enjoy a game on KAHOOT!


Once you are finished with that, come back together at your online meeting and make your Birding Journal. You can find instructions here: Upcycled Brownie Journal. Have the girls decorate the front with bird drawings or stickers. They can paste the “Types of Birds” and “Parts of a Bird” sheets right into their books. It’s not a bad idea to attach a small pencil to the book with a bit of string either.

While you are crafting, be sure to talk to the girls about your favourite birds, bird encounters, bird safety, and any interesting facts you know about birds. I have some fun videos I like to show them of my birding adventures with Chickadees and winter camping.

Then encourage them to get outside safely in their backyards or on a family hike along a trail to look for birds! When they see one, they can draw a picture of it, write down the defining features (size, colour, details). They should also note the date and location of their sighting.

Check back with the girls periodically one week, three weeks, and six weeks later to follow up on any of their findings.

Some tips:

  • If you’re looking for an app to help identify birds, Cornell University has developed a great app called “Merlin Bird ID.”
  • Is there a common bird in your area that you don’t see in the ‘Types of Birds’ sheet? Feel free to add it in. 
  • If you can get online, try listening to the bird calls for the songbirds included in the ‘Types of Birds’ resource. Try out Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology site that includes the calls of thousands of birds:

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