It all started with a nature windowsill theme about birds that would help us in our backyard observations suggested by Handbook of Nature Study. There were Dover coloring books, bird identification books, old bird calendar pages, Birdcage Press card games, Audubon plush birds, and binoculars. I brought it all out and waited for the oooohs and aaaahs. Ok, so none of those were heard, but I did get a, “That looks cool, Mom.” I can work with that!
One of our nature study goals this year was to identify 5 new birds. When I asked the children which bird they would like to learn about first, they chose the Belted Kingfisher out of Common Birds and Their Songs. We have never seen one or heard one, but I didn’t want to squelch their enthusiasm so we read about it, took some notes in our nature journals and looked at the picture to make an outline sketch. Then each of them started filling in colors as they looked at the picture. I was so impressed with their entries that I counted it a successful “assignment.”
Each week, we did another entry in our journals. I steered them toward birds we could possibly see in our backyard this time, and they chose the American Goldfinch. That day, we saw one fly in the backyard, and the kids knew it right away even though it was a dull colored female because of its undulating flight. Perfect! Bird #1
Next we drew the House Sparrow. We have previously identified it, but had never really studied it. Both birdhouses are full again this year with sparrows.
Our next bird study was the American crow. Everyone knows those noisy birds, but our experience got even better when Little Bundle starting walking around saying, “Taw, taw.”
Little did I know that this bird drawing exercise would turn into a new pastime. Explorer took right to it and began drawing a new bird every couple of days while I read aloud. He put each one up on the “Bird Wall”: yellow-rumped warbler, kestrel, magpie, mallard, cardinal, sparrow hawk, green heron, loon, red-tailed hawk, and a bobwhite quail,. He even told me, “Mom, I can’t wait to do school today so I can draw a new bird!” How’s that for motivation! As Brilliant began to see the drawings accumulate, she too started sketching a blue jay, barn swallow, scarlet tanager, indigo bunting, and a brown-headed cowbird. After a week of watching his siblings have fun drawing birds, Navigator finally joined in by finishing an old drawing of a toucan and began a great blue heron, swan and a robin.
Having only a limited amount of drawing experience through the Draw Write Now series, it has been such a wonderful month of sketching and noticing details and colors while looking at pictures. I smile a deep smile and am thankful for nature study and nature study goals that got us here in the first place. Already we know the names of birds that we had never heard of before. As the love for birds continues to grow, so will our knowledge and identification skills.
Little Bundle also got in on the bird watching this month. As she eats her breakfast each morning she watches the robins looking for worms in our yard. “Bird” is one of her new words. She will run to the window often and look for birds and dogs.
And if all this wasn’t enough, God brought a pretty little robin momma to our patio. She started building a nest up in the corner, but her pieces kept falling and blowing away.
The adults weren’t too sad because we didn’t really want the mess and poop to get on the patio anyway, but the kids kept saying, “Pleeeeeassse, let her build the nest!”
After seeing their eager faces, who could resist. We consented to let her persevere. She tried for two or three days to get something going there under the eave, but to no avail. The nest was just not working until…it rained. She flew like crazy, bringing mud and grass. We were all fascinated at how quickly she was building it.
When it was finished, she disappeared for about four days! It has been cold, windy and rainy the last couple of days and our patio gets used a lot so we thought she had decided to find a quieter place. We were heartbroken. At lunch today, though, we noticed that one of the robins on the grass looked awfully fat. Lo and behold, it hopped on to the patio, then the patio chair and finally flew into the nest. She didn’t abandon it after all. We think she was just out eating so she can sit on her eggs!!