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Women and child on a rug in backyard

Backyard birds count towards early literacy

14 October 2022 | State Library of Queensland

Getting your child excited about STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths) doesn’t require expensive resources or flashy experiments. Young children make the best scientists as they are naturally curious, hands-on learners.  

You can encourage this curiosity by exploring the everyday world together and having conversations around what you discover. Participating in a citizen science project such as the Aussie Bird Count not only contributes to conservation methods and invasive species mapping but also inspires the scientist in your child as they learn about their natural world.  

By taking part in the annual Aussie Bird Count you will be helping BirdLife Australia understand more about the birds that live in your area. Borrowing a native bird index or downloading an app is a great way to start conversations with your child around different types of birds. Discussing size, colours and type (sea bird, nectar feeder, bird of prey etc) is a great opportunity to introduce new vocabulary and interesting and unusual words with your little one.  

Help develop your child’s listening skills by listening to the birds in your area and try to identify them by sound. You could start with something easy or distinctive like a kookaburra or magpie. Birds in Backyards have a Top 40 Birds Songs chart, which is a fun to listen to with your child and will help develop STEAM principles as you spot the difference between a Cackler, Screecher and Whistler.  

The Aussie Backyard Bird count is held in Bird Week, 17-23 October, and it's free to participate. Visit your local library and find resources to foster your child’s love of science including books on birds and citizen science.  

Books to inspire little scientists 
  • Book of Curious Birds by Jennifer Cossins 
  • Kookaburras love to laugh by Laura Bunting  
  • Australian Backyard Birdies by Andy Geppert 
  • Our Birds: nilimurrungu wayin malanynha by Siena Stubbs 
  • Animal Teams: how amazing animals work together in the wild by Caroline Stamps 
  • Look I’m an Ecologist by Cathriona Hickey 


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