The Next Big Thing: Birding!

By Nicole Irving, Publisher and Editor-In-Chief

Does your kiddo have a love of all things nature? If they do, this is the perfect age to introduce them to the world of birding.

But what is it? This activity is observing birds in their natural habitat and actively pursuing witnessing them, recording how many you see and having a love of the pursuit! While you are trying to find them and see them, you are not hunting them. it does not involve touching, harming or capturing the birds. This is a great family activity or activity to encourage them to do on their own in the backyard and in the community.

What you need to start

  • Binoculars
  • Notebook for recording
  • Bird species book (area specific or all encompassing)

Make it simple

Spend time outside and keep a lookout for birds. Use binoculars to get up close with them. It’s that simple. Record the species you find on your list and see the list grow.

Does going to a zoo count?

For a true birder, going to zoo or sanctuary would not count. It must be in their natural environment. But, if you visit a zoo and see a non-zoo bird resident perched on the grounds, that DOES count. To get them started learning about the different species, a zoo like Santa Fe Learning Zoo is a perfect place to start understanding the bids and begin recognizing them.

Gainesville hot spots

Gainesville is the home to a plethora of this winged-animal, so it is a wonderful place to begin their new calling as birders!

  • Your own backyard Sweetwater Wetlands Park Depot Park
  • Lake Alice
  • Veterans Park
  • University of Florida Campus

According to the Alachua Audubon Society website, which is a division of the National Audubon Society, there are currently 362 bird species in Alachua county. Visit their website at to find an up to date list of birds in our area!


Some tips

  1. Never touch the birds. They are wild and they can harm you, just as much as you can harm them.
  2. You will never want to touch or get close to a nest!
  3. Be very still and quiet. Birds startle easily!
  4. You will want to look on the ground, as much as you do in the trees and air! They are everywhere!
  5. Keep an eye out when you travel. There are different birds all over the state!

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