Scooter’s Top Ten Ways to get Florida’s kids to Turn off the Games and Tune into Bird Watching!


file571244244029Ever wonder what goes through a kid’s mind as they sit there, glued to their handheld device? Scooter’s guess is…”Not much!” And truly, “not much” is probably right.  According to WebMD as well as Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong Website for healthy living, children who over-play these games aren’t in fact, “playing” at all. They’re sitting and staring with little to no physical movement whatsoever.  According to studies outlined by the CDC, this inactivity can lead to obesity, social avoidance syndromes and a lack of normal social learning experiences which are essential for healthy emotional and social growth. Aside from this obvious effect, children who spend endless hours playing games or watching television, have less of an opportunity to learn social cues and important life-skills crucial to healthy and normal socialization.

family backyard habitatGroup play and social interactions offer children opportunities to define boundaries and garner an understanding of how others in their peer group may feel or think. These skills are not nearly as easily gained through the mechanics of an electronic device which, while somewhat social, offers too easy an exit when a child may face even a mundane social challenge.  Back in the day, before dirt was invented -it seems- kids roamed the streets from dawn ’til dusk chasing one another in gleeful happiness! Nowadays, it’s more common to see a group of kids lined up on a sidewalk, hands in laps, seemingly shackled to a hand-held device of unknown multi-use… like… criminals waiting for their turn at the local quarry!

But, don’t ruffle your feathers! There are ways to, perhaps, entice them to ease up on the electronics and tune into nature on a more consistent and genuine basis.

Yellow Throated WarblerWBU in Clearwater/Safety Harbor has 10 great suggestions on how you and your family can become good stewards of nature conservancy while easing the younger generation into a more fulfilling life, giving to something that doesn’t  require batteries and a cord.

  1. Get local! Look for local kid-based events and activities. Check out the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo or the Brooker Creek Preserve in Tarpon Springs where special programs and events for children -and parents, alike- are popular activities.
  2. Start young! Teaching children about nature in their toddler years is an important aspect of being good stewards of our environment in later life. Bring them to a local bird watching event and buy books on bird watching; have them make their own feeding station from recycled materials found at home and record each bird who feeds from them.
  3. Make it fun! Find bird and/or nature-themed games to play with your child.
  4. Plan an adventure! Design a treasure map with different wild birds as your guide to each spot. Hide seed, nesting fluff, peanuts and other wild bird-related items for your child to find. Then, after they are collected, use each item according to its purpose to create a backyard habitat at home.
  5. Plant a garden! Getting children involved in home gardening is a great way to entice them outdoors and away from the games inside.
  6. Let your child choose his/her birding tools! Take your child to your local WBU in Clearwater/Safety Harbor and allow them to choose their very own bird feeding tools.
  7. Watch videos! Introduce your child to live streaming videos of local Florida wild birds!
  8. Join a club! Clearwater/Safety Harbor, Largo and all the Pinellas county areas are full of terrific bird watching clubs and organizations eager to teach children about, and involve them in, local as well as international wild bird and nature conservancy programs.
  9. Use supplemental nesting materials! Let your child have some fun with some WBU woolies nesting materials. Have your child put patches of the wooly material in spots around your yard and have them check, each day, to see how many pieces have been taken and used by your wild bird visitors.
  10. Take them to your local WBU Clearwater/Safety Harbor nature shop and have Carl or Karen show them the many ways they can help Florida’s wild birds. Don’t forget to pop out back to see what Scooter’s up to in his Northwood Commons Backyard Habitat.


Wild Birds Unlimited’s kid-themed program, Pathways to Nature, offers families a great opportunity to learn about nature and all its wonders. Partnering with the National Audubon Society, Pathways to Nature, and WBU Corporate, has helped to provide children from all over the country with the opportunity to attend nature camps and events which promote a love of nature and wild bird education. Call or visit Wild Birds Unlimited’s Nature Shop in Clearwater/Safety Harbor to learn how you can join the Pathways to Nature program with your family!


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Hammock Bird Banding

A dynamic update on the Migratory Bird Banding Project in Hammock Park, Dunedin, Florida.

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