10 Facts Children Can Learn About British Birds
At the end of January, we are taking part in the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch to count how many birds we see in our local area in 1 hour. Keeping an eye on the population of different bird species is very important for our ecosystem and it allows experts to understand how our environment is changing and evolving over time.
Whether you are a nursery setting, childminder, or a parent – getting your children involved in bird watching can be a fun, outdoor learning opportunity.
Join in the fun by encouraging your children to learn about species of birds in their garden, as well as their role in our natural environment.
Today in preparation for the big count, we wanted to share some fun facts about British birds which you can teach to children to spark their imagination.
1. Feathers Have Many Uses
Feathers are one of the most defining features of birds, and you may be surprised to learn that their function is for more than flying. Feathers not only help birds to fly, but they are also used for camouflage against predators, to attract mates, and to protect birds from the cold. It is common for birds to take on a brown colour to their feathers as this will easily blend in with the earth, and males will generally show off more colourful plumage to attract females and further the species.
2. Britain’s Biggest Bird
Although we tend to think of hotter climates as housing huge birds, Britain’s biggest bird stands at an impressive metre with a wingspan of 2 metres. This bird is called the White-tailed Eagle is a stunning creature and is often found in North-West Scotland.
3. Starlings Make Impressive Shows
Starlings are very common birds in the UK, and they can easily be recognised by their dark colouring with white speckles that resemble stars. Perhaps the most impressive thing about these birds is that they will often gather in large groups in the evenings and dance around in the sky making amazing patterns. This is their way of communicating before they find a spot on the ground to settle for the night.
4. Owls Have One Ear Higher Than The Other
Owls are mysterious, nocturnal birds, and they are also incredible predators. Many owls have developed a clever evolutionary hack that helps them to pinpoint the location of their prey in the dark. Owls such as the common Barn Owl have one ear higher than the other on their heads, and this gives them a wider range of hearing allowing for precise hunting.
5. There are 600 Species
It might surprise you to know that there are over 600 species of bird that are native to Britain. The British Ornithologist Union (BOU) has been keeping a record of new species for hundreds of years. One of the most recent species discovered is the Dalmatian pelican.
6. The UK’s Tallest Bird
Although the White-tailed Eagle stands tall at nearly 1 metre, there are several birds that are taller resident in the UK. The tallest bird in the UK right now is the Common Crane, which stands at a height of 120cm. That’s the equivalent to the average 6-year old child!
7. Blackbirds are prolific breeders
Blackbirds are one of the most common birds in the UK, and the males have a distinctive black coat with a bright orange beak. The female of the species displays a more modest brown coat. You will often see blackbirds in your garden in pairs, a male and a female together. These birds generally mate for life and they are capable of having more than one brood in a single year!
8. Birds store food for winter
When you consider animals who store food for the winter, your first thought might be squirrels. However, many British birds also store food ready for the colder seasons of the year. Coal Tits for example will hoard seeds and save it for when food is less readily available in the environment.
9. Swans belong to the Queen
Swans are perhaps one of the most stunning birds we have in Britain, and every single one of them belongs to the Queen. Why you ask? Well, hundreds of years ago the royal family would use swans for feasts, and this meant they would not let anyone else capture and eat them. This law has stayed in place mostly for the preservation of the species.
10. Lots of British birds migrate
There are approximately 4000 species of bird across the world that migrate during the winter season to a warmer place, and half of the birds in the UK are amongst those species. The reason so many of our beloved species migrate in the winter is the climate. The UK and Scandinavian countries get bitterly cold in winter, and birds will travel south to places such as Africa to enjoy the sunshine. We don;t blame them!
Those were just some of the interesting facts we have about British birds that you can teach to children. Teaching children about bird life is so important and can give them a better understanding of the world around them as they grow.
Will you be taking part in the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch this January? Let us know!