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11 Things You Didn't Know About Birds (PHOTOS)

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Sociologists and cultural trend watchers have been decrying the broken connection between today's youth and nature. With so many stimulating digital options dominating the attention spans of young people, the worry is that we'll raise several generations who have no connection to or understanding of nature. Birds provide an easy doorway to re-establishing this connection between kids and nature. Why? Because birds are almost everywhere, they are active, easy-to-see creatures, they often have bright, beautiful colors, and many birds sing melodious, enchanting songs. Most importantly, they capture our imagination with their ability to do something that we humans only figured out about 100 years ago: they can fly!

I've had the privilege of taking hundreds of young people bird watching at schools, nature centers, in scout groups, and at birding festivals all over North America. I can attest that birds have an almost magical power to captivate a kid's attention, to create a "Wow" moment. We birders have a thing we call our "spark bird"--the bird that first captured OUR attention and got us started watching birds. My spark bird was a snowy owl that flew into our Iowa front yard in November of 1968. That one bird changed my life.

The Young Birder's Guide is the bird book that I wish I'd had as a kid. I worked with my daughter Phoebe's and son Liam's elementary school classes to create the content because they were the best possible focus group to make sure the book engaged its target audience: 8 to 12 year olds. Little did I know that while creating a bird book that was aimed at kids, I was also creating one that worked new birders of any age.

I've written a lot of books, but none that I'm prouder of than this one. Here are 11 birds that could change the life of the young birder in your life - or yours.

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