Let me guess. You’ve been in the car for hours and it felt like years. The kids are in the back and in your mind all you can do is thank the inventor of whoever put DVD players and tablets in cars. While you’ve pointed out some of the scenery along the way, the most you get is a glance out the window from your oldest, who immediately goes back to looking to see what their best friend is saying on social media.

Here’s an idea you may not have thought of: birds. Every rest stop, gas station, and point of interest along the way has them. You may even see a few atop the telephone wires following the highway you are on.

But what type of bird are they? What do you know about them? Do they live here or are they simply passing through?

Next time, snap a quick photo and try to find out more about the bird. There are many bird apps, or simply pick up a book on birds and try to figure out what you have just spotted and start making a list.

Everyone is now a detective and great discussions can come from simply asking, “Why do you think it is this bird?” They come in all shapes, sizes and colors.

Don’t get too discouraged if you can’t be certain if it’s this or that type. Some are easy to pick out and some are certainly more challenging, but that research can always be done at a later time. The idea is to keep looking and reporting your find!

What type of equipment will you need? All the national parks carry a list of birds that can be found in the parks, just simply ask a ranger. Many of the visitor centers also carry various books on birds that can be found within the park and even how to identify them. For a closer look of the little guy up in the tree, perhaps a pair of binoculars is in order. It doesn’t take much to become a bird watcher, or birder as they sometime call themselves, just a desire to see what is around you.

Keep a list! Every birder keeps a list of some sort; the number of birds you have seen, or how many different ones you have seen. Hear one calling in a tree, take a good look and try to identify what you are hearing. Pretty soon, it will seem like they are everywhere! (Now just to let you know, they’ve always been there, you just haven’t taken the time to really notice.) But keep an eye out; you really never know what can be found just down the trail.

Challenge your family to find a few different birds, and pretty soon everyone will be looking a little more closely at the world around them and a little less at the world through a video screen. How many can you find?