Action: Provide bird feeding materials to families with young children
Key messagesRead our guidance on Key messages before continuing
A single replicated before-and-after study from the USA found that most children involved in a programme providing families with bird food increased their knowledge of birds, but there was no significant change in environmental attitudes.
Feeding birds in gardens is a popular past time in many parts of the world, and there is the possibility that encouraging young children to feed birds may increase their knowledge of local species and their desire to conserve them. Studies describing the effects of feeding on bird populations and reproduction are described in ‘General responses to small/declining populations - Provide supplementary food’.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A replicated before-and-after study in 65 families containing at least 1 child provisioned with bird feeding and educational materials for use in urban gardens in the USA (Beck et al. 2001) found that younger children showed significant gains in bird knowledge but there was no systematic change in environmental attitudes. Forty-nine (75%) children improved in bird knowledge, six (9%) showed no change and ten (15%) declined. Post-program scores were significantly higher than pre-program scores for both younger boys and girls (7-9 years old) but not older children (10-12 years old). Positive change was correlated with higher education levels of parents. Environmental attitudes, however, did not change and declined for one subgroup of children (younger boys). Over 80% of parents felt the program increased family interaction and 80% reported they will still watching and feeding birds a year later. Of the children, 44% were boys and 56% girls.