Bird Study Merit Badge Day
Hints and Cautions

Why Birders Are Needed!
Boy Scouts and Birding
Merit Badge Requirements
Suggested Event Activities
Forty Common Birds
Planning Considerations
Logistics and Checklists
Publicity and Scheduling
Sample Event Publicity Flyer
Hints and Cautions
Suggested Timetable
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Ideas to help sell Birding to kids!

The list of forty common species was developed for central New Jersey. In developing your own, use abundant species but also include a few from different families and habitats to help teach the bird families for requirement 3. Also, make sure a few species have easily remembered calls for requirement 6. While the boys only need to identify twenty birds in the field, teaching forty species increases the odds that they will be able to ID twenty random birds in the field.

Remember to keep it simple. This is not the place to demonstrate your knowledge of the wear patterns on the tertials of the alternate plumage of the Rectilated Waffle-Snatcher. It is the place to carefully describe the field marks of the American Robin to beginners.

Be enthusiastic about our hobby and preserving habitat, but avoid coming across as a zealot. For most of the boys this is their first encounter with a birder. Many look at our non-traditional, somewhat esoteric hobby as being slightly eccentric. This is our chance to dispel this, not reinforce it.

If you can, avoid habits and dress that kids might consider "nerdy". These include weird vests, ugly hats, tucking your pants legs inside your socks to avoid ticks while still indoors, etc.. Having one instructor under the age of 30 will automatically help you with this.
Encourage and reinforce their discoveries. Act excited when they correctly identify a European Starling.

Be careful in explaining the benefits of binoculars. Be sure you don't disparage their dad's prized $50 sports binoculars with zoom and "InstaFocus". You can point out that there are binoculars better suited for birding, but remember what they have is what they're going to have to use.

Suggested Timetable

Scouting for Birds