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It is no secret that I have a slight obsession with field guides. I own a few. Actually, I own 5 bird guides alone. I have tree guides, mushroom guides, wildflower guides, various general wildlife guides, and even a weather guide book. Our local library, also, has a good selection of field guides and I check them out—a lot.
Why this field guide obsession?
When you walk in the woods, sit in your backyard or just look out the window, don’t you wonder what you are looking at? I have to know!
The diversity of nature just amazes me. When I was in college, I noticed a lot of different species of birds were visiting my parent’s bird feeder and the area around it. I knew the basic birds – cardinals, robins, chickadees and sparrows. But, there were some others I just hadn’t noticed or paid attention to before. So, I bought a bird guide and sat in the front yard for a good chunk of the summer.
By the end of the summer, I had identified over 25 different species of birds in the front yard alone. I was hooked. It became my goal to see how many species of birds I could identify. I keep that same guidebook in my kitchen, along with a pair of binoculars, so I can attempt to identify more bird species.
The same has happened with trees and wildflowers. So, I guess I should warn you that field guides may cause nature addiction!
How To Use Field Guides With Kids
The kids see me using our field guides all the time. They see me identifying birds and trees in our yard or on nature hikes. This helps them realize where to get information without me sitting down and telling them.
We often take a field guide or two and binoculars on our nature hikes. It’s great to be able to answer questions in the field. When they ask what something is and I have the appropriate field guide, I will help them look it up and identify it themselves. They like figuring it out like a mystery.
Often, the kids will run in from the backyard or woods and grab a field guide and run back out. I love that the field guides are helping them learn on their own.
Buy some field guides of your own or grab some at your library. (My personal favorites are the Peterson Field Guides.) I recommend buying your own so you can take notes of where and when you identified each species.
My Favorite Field Guides