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Birding with baby

June 5, 2009

Ever since Noah was born I’ve been chomping at the bit to get him out birding, for several reasons really. Not only would I like to instill a positive perception of birding in him at an early age, but his mom really appreciates the free morning to sleep in.

Besides, in the couple weeks since Noah’s come to live with us, we’ve learned a few things about him. One of the most promising is that he really likes being outside. In the midst of his rages, if we just step outside on the porch, or take him on a walk around the block, he quiets down. Whether it’s the feeling of the wind or the green blurs just beyond his ability to focus, he seems to really enjoy it.

So it was only a matter of time before I got him out birding, but until he’s old enough to hold his head up himself, I’m unable to use the backpack or the baby bjorn or any other tools that leave my hands free to manage binoculars. He still needs a stroller at this point, so I need to bird at a place where a stroller would not be a huge disadvantage, which is somewhat limiting. Fortunately, my old standby Mason Farm is accessed by a two mile dirt and gravel road that would be a slightly bumpy, but not difficult ride.

I don’t want to read too much into it or anything, but I think Noah is going to be the world’s best birder, in that, he really enjoyed the time out. I could tell because he slept through most of it. But there were times that he would sit with his eyes open, intently and quietly watching something just beyond his range of vision. Blurry trees probably, and maybe a Common Yellowthroat or two.

As for the birds? Well, by the time June rolls around the migrants have split, but resident Blue Grosbeaks and Yellow-breasted Chats and American Redstarts make for a colorful, if not exceptional morning. I even finally heard my year’s first Yellow-throated Vireo, a bird I typically get at Mason Farm but oddly, not until June for the second year in a row. Also notable was a Mud Turtle, also known as a Stinkpot, shuffling along the trail. When I picked it up it expressed it’s displeasure by dropping a load of appropriately stinky musk, thankfully missing me.

In the end, I think I’m going to be in the market for a stroller with slightly more sturdy wheels. The hard plastic numbers on our current stroller do the trick for walking around town, but make for what I would imagine is a sort of unpleasant ride for Noah. I do want him to enjoy this stuff after all.

But first time out was a rousing success, if I do say so myself.

  1. Kyle permalink
    June 5, 2009 9:21 am

    Congrats to Noah on his first birding trip. I'll bet he's already started a life list in his head. 😉

    A few years back, I saw a couple wheeling a mid-sized stroller that had inflated rubber tires, but deflated just enough so that they were getting a pretty smooth ride for their kid over the bumpy walking trail. When I asked about them, they said they'd removed them from an old kids' wagon and mounted them on the stroller. Never tried it myself, as my kids were already well beyond stroller age by then.

  2. Greg permalink
    June 5, 2009 9:33 am

    By fall migration, he'll be holding his head up, and Grandpa Swick will be there to help! Can you say ”look-up, over-here, see-me, up-here” 🙂

    Check out

  3. Lori permalink
    June 5, 2009 12:24 pm

    I would suggest a three-wheeler–one wheel in front and two in back. They are a little more expensive, but they take trails much better than the conventional strollers. I started my daughter out this way and she LOVES going out with me now. At two and a half she can already identify at least a dozen species by sight. It has to be the most gratifying feeling, as a birder, to know that I have instilled a love for nature into the next generation. Cheers to you for feeling this way too! Perhaps they'll be birding buddies at some point in the future!

  4. Jochen permalink
    June 6, 2009 3:49 am

    Nate, of course he didn't sleep, he was concentrating really hard on learning bird songs and tried to figure out if he can identify the different male Common Yellowthroats individually by their melodies.
    As for the technical aspects, I'd say larger wheels and inflated rubber tires.
    And I always placed my binocs somewhere inside or on the stroller so I could quickly grab them. Wearing them around the neck was a bit uncomfortable as they would alway swing back and forth and hit the handle of the stroller.

    It is a perfect mutual benefit situation:
    mom get some spare time, dad gets some birds and baby gets some sound sleep or a little adventure outside, all babies seem to love being out in nature. Well, my son currently wants to spend all his time outside watching the car traffic, so I've hit a little obstacle there recently in my attempts at going birding with him, but I am sure it is just a phase…

  5. David permalink
    June 15, 2009 11:12 pm

    Right there with you, Nate! My daughter of 7 weeks, also loves being outdoors. Her list of birds seen is a little short, but she's ticked a lot of heard birds! We started using the Baby Bjorn a couple of weeks after she was born. A friend showed us how to fold the top of the carrier down to provide more neck support. It's much easier for us, than the stroller. Good birding to the two of you!

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