Winter Bird Watching: Family-Friendly Tips and Tricks


Winter may seem like an unlikely time for bird watching, but it's a fantastic season to explore the fascinating world of our feathered friends. In this blog post, we'll guide you through the joys of bird watching in winter, providing insights, tips, and family-friendly locations in the Pittsburgh Area to make your outdoor adventure memorable.



Why Winter Bird Watching?

While many birds migrate to warmer climates during winter, plenty remain in colder regions, offering unique opportunities for observation. The bare branches and snow-covered landscapes make spotting birds easier (especially for little eyes). Also, the stillness of winter allows for bird calls to be crisper and clearer. This will make finding and identifying birds more manageable and fun for your littles.


Tips for a Successful Outing with Kids

To ensure you get the most out of your winter bird watching expedition, we have provided provided 5 suggestions and a packing list for a successful outing.


  1. Choose family-friendly birding spots: Select easily accessible locations with diverse bird populations. We've provided a list of kid-friendly birding spots in Western PA below.

  2. Use colorful bird guides: Introduce children to vibrant bird guides or user-friendly birding apps. Here are some app suggestions from the National Audubon Society.

  3. Come prepared: Dress in layers to stay warm during winter outings. Bring kid sized binoculars if possible, and don't forget some snacks to keep everyone's energy up! We've included these and more in our packing list below.

  4. Educate yourself and your little before adventuring: Engage children in learning about different bird species and their unique characteristics. You can create excitement before you even leave the house through fun bird identification games for kids or educational birding activities that will help your little one (and you) know what to look for and how to engage with the birds and their environment.

  5. Encourage journaling and create a checklist: Inspire children to keep birding journals to record their observations and experiences. You can motivate them by making checklists of common winter birds to spot, adding an interactive element to the activity. We even have supplied you with a coloring sheet of some common birds to get you started. Download it below.



Family-Friendly Locations

Explore the following family-friendly locations in Western PA for your winter bird watching expedition:

  1. Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve: Beechwood Farms offers well-maintained trails suitable for all ages, an indoor bay window for bird viewing in a case of inclement weather, and a beautiful array of western Pennsylvanian birds.
  2. Schenley Park: Pittsburgh’s Parks Conservancy runs monthly bird watching hikes here, and the location in relation to most of Pittsburgh is hard to beat!
  3. The National Aviary: The aviary is an indoor experience, but it may be the perfect place to spark a love of birds in your littlest adventurer as they can get up close and personal to observe the birds. They also offer a host of programming for children.
  4. North Park: With so many trails, wooded areas, and water features North Park is the perfect destination for families with little ones to explore the world of birds
  5. South Park: With sightings of over 150 species of birds, South Park is definitely a spot for families wanting to expand their “Life List” and add new birds.
  6. More ideas: Your own backyard or local park is the perfect place to start your bird watching expedition. If you are looking for more spots in Western PA, then the Three Rivers Birding Club has compiled a splendid list. If you are not from PA, then looking on your local Audubon Society website and searching for local birding clubs will give you the best source of information on local birds and where to find them! 



Packing List

You'll want to make sure you have all these items for the best bird watching experience:

  1. Your Bag: The carter joey® Sling Pack is the perfect companion for this adventure, but any bag will do.
  2. Your Binoculars: birds are easier to spot in the winter but for the most detail and best overall experience binoculars will allow your little one to have the best view. 
  3. Your Layers: make sure everyone is dressed appropriately for the temperatures outside and bringing extra layers, hats, gloves, and scarves never hurts.
  4. Your Notebook: You will want to bring something to keep track of all the birds you see, where and when you saw them, and a description of the event. Most birders call this their "life list".
  5. Your Snacks: a snack for you and a snack for the birds is always a good rule of thumb!



Downloadable Bird Coloring Sheet 

Enhance your bird watching experience by downloading our free winter bird coloring sheet. This resource has the most common winter birds to see in North America, making it easier for the whole family to identify the feathered friends you encounter and have a lasting memory of the experience.

 carter joey winter bird coloring sheet


    Embarking on a winter bird watching adventure with your family can be a rewarding and educational experience. With the guidance provided, you're well-equipped to explore the world of birds in colder months. Get ready to witness nature's beauty and create lasting memories with your little ones. Happy bird watching!