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Winter Bird Homeschool Nature Study: Your Resident Winter Birds

Winter bird-watching can be rewarding! Even when the landscape is covered in snow or ice or mud, there are always birds that will come to visit if you create a little bird-friendly habitat with some seeds, suet, and freshwater. You can observe birds right from your window if the weather isn’t friendly. Or, if you have the right conditions, take a bird walk in a nearby wood. Winter is an amazing time to stroll your neighborhood looking for resident or visiting birds.

OHC Winter Bird Study – Looking at your resident winter birds.

This Week’s Outdoor Hour Challenge: Winter Bird Study

In addition to just enjoying your local birds, this week’s Outdoor Hour Challenge helps you to learn a little bit about bird migration using the information in the Handbook of Nature Study and a couple of online resources. Click over to the original challenge and see how easy this nature study can be for your family.

I’m enjoying Project Feederwatch which helps keep me motivated to look for birds at my own feeder. Use this challenge as a way to motivate your family to look for birds during the winter months.

Winter Bird Nature Study Handbook of Nature Study pages 35-37

Make sure to note the links and additional resources suggested for your tree study.

Check the Handbook of Nature Study index for the bird you observe this week or use the bird tab at the top of my website to see if there is an archived Outdoor Hour Challenge for you to use in your study.

Winter Bird Nature Study Handbook of Nature Study pages 35-37

Additional Ideas For Homeschool Bird Study

Download and save the Cornell Feeder Bird coloring book. This book has many of the most common birds you will see in your backyard and it makes a perfect complement to your family’s bird nature study.

Earlier this year I wrote about the book Birds, Nests, and Eggs as part of the Nature Book Club. You may wish to click over and read that entry and use the printables available in that entry for additional study.

OHC Winter Bird Study – Looking at your resident winter birds.

Please note this challenge is found in the Winter Series course available to our members. Log into your membership to download the Handbook of Nature Study Winter curriculum. There is a custom notebook page for this challenge included in the nature curriculum.

You can find even more winter bird nature study ideas in the Learning About Birds curriculum from the Outdoor Hour Challenge. This nature curriculum is available in membership.

Join The Homeschool Nature Study Membership

Our nature members have access to all the curriculum books, an interactive calendar and a brand new, weekly Outdoor Hour Challenge post each week.

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Connect With Us On Social Media

Did you enjoy this Outdoor Hour Challenge on Winter Weeds? Be sure to tag @outdoorhourchallenge on Instagram and use the hashtag #outdoorhourchallenge so we can see and comment!

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Taking Your Homeschool Winter Nature Study Indoors

Taking your winter nature studies indoors when the weather outdoors is proving to be a challenge may be just the thing you need every once in a while. We have a lovely post from the archives to inspire your homeschool nature studies indoors for those days that you can’t face getting outdoors.

Taking Your Winter Nature Studies Indoors

I knew as I posted the challenges each of the last few weeks that there were families who were buried under snow already and those that have really cold temperatures to deal with. I received a personal email from several of you letting me know that you are suspending your Outdoor Hour Challenge (OHC) participation until spring and it made me a little sad. I have been thinking hard about how to help you to keep up a system of nature study while you are living a more indoor centered life until the temperatures warm up.

Taking your winter nature study indoors

Believe it or not, although my photos are not showing it, we are experiencing cold temperatures here in Northern California. I know that in perspective that they are not as cold as some parts of the world right now but still we have had ice and frost every morning this week and yesterday on our afternoon hike it was 37 degrees. My nose and ears were cold because I took off down the trail without my knit hat. We occasionally will get snow that lasts a few days which is just enough to make it fun and not a chore. I share all this so you don’t think of me as sitting outside in my shorts in the sun under a palm tree just because I live in California.

What can you do to bring a little nature study time to a cold winter’s day?

Long lists of nature study ideas always seem to overwhelm me so I thought I would share just a few really *great* ideas that could get you started in taking your winter nature studies indoors.

  • Hang a bird feeder outside a window where you can sit inside and look out at your daily feathered visitors. A simple seed or suet feeder outside your window will bring years of enjoyment as you get to know and learn about your local birds.
  • Keep a window sill garden. One of our OHC families wrote about their window sill garden, its a great and inexpensive way to enjoy nature.
Taking Your Winter Nature Studies Indoors Keeping a Window Sill Garden

Here is her photo of their window area. Doesn’t it look inviting and make you really want to take a minute to not only look out the window but also take a peek at the plants? They would make great subjects for a nature journal as well. Thanks to Mama Stories for letting me use her photo.

  • Grow a Tabletop Garden. Last year a lot of families tried an indoor gardening project and had great success. It is something easy and inexpensive and so interesting to grow. I was thinking that it was about time to plant another dish garden using root vegetables.Here are the instructions and photos at Hearts and Trees – Tabletop Garden Instructions and Notebook page

This is a really easy project even for little ones to manage. The results are fantastic and will brighten up a winter day for sure. Here is what the tabletop garden looks like after it starts growing. Update #2

This was our tabletop garden last year and it always cheered me up to take a minute to view its progress. We had great results even in this not so very bright window, in a room where we don’t keep the temperature very warm. Things to learn about: roots, leaves, and then eventually flowers. Grow the garden and keep up the notebook pages and you will bring a little nature study into your winter.

  • Another activity that we do around here is to play nature journal catch-up when the weather is too cold or wet to go outside. Items that we have on our nature shelf can be brought to the table and sketched or painted into the nature journal on a long winter’s afternoon. Many times this activity will spark a memory or a question that we had that we never took the time to research before. This is a perfect time to dig a little deeper into subjects that interest your child. A stop at the library the next time you are out running errands can provide the opportunity to look for books on the birds, trees, and wildflowers of summer.
  • Plan next summer’s garden. Okay, I admit it. I love gardening catalogues. One favorite winter nature-related activity that we do in our home is plan next summer’s garden. Browsing and dreaming over the seed and garden catalogs warms your heart in a way that brings optimism and hope during a bitterly cold day. The promise of a garden full of green things can help pass the time as you stare at the starkness of a winter’s scene out your window. Sketch the garden out on paper with colored pencils. Ask your children to participate. Designate one catalog as the cutting catalog and let the children cut the photos of flowers and veggies out and glue them to paper.

My favorites: Burpee, Park Seed, and Pinetree Garden Seeds.

I have in mind a whole new idea for a summer’s garden. It was sparked by this family’s idea and blog entry at Understanding Charlotte. Make sure to pop over to her blog and view her photos of how they brought nature study up close during the summer. This is such a great way to attract nature right up to your window. This idea could be started next spring and kept going for next winter as well. Many times if we just leave plants in the ground over the winter, creatures find a way to use them. I still have sunflowers…very dead sunflowers….in my garden but they provide food and shelter for visiting birds. I think this is such a great concept for families that have limited space or need to contain their garden in pots on a patio. You can use your imagination and plan your own window accessible garden for next spring and summer and winter.

  • Last but not least, don’t minimize the power of a quick walk outdoors if the weather cooperates. Seize a few moments each week to step outdoors even if you are bundled up and initially not excited about the thought of getting cold on purpose.

One of my favorite moments in the winter are those few minutes after the snow stops and everything is covered in whiteness. The stillness and quiet of that moment are priceless in our modern world. It is as if everything has stood still and you can capture the clean white slate that snow gives…even in the city or in a neighborhood.

The time before all the kids head out to play and enjoy the winter games of childhood is one of the gifts of winter. As an adult don’t forget the delight you had as a child when it snowed. Muster up some enthusiasm and view the winter weather from your child’s point of view. It can seem like a miracle to them.

“There is enough to see outside in winter to satisfy any poet. In fact, winter may be even better because there aren’t so many things going on in nature that they crowd each other out. It’s easier to notice what’s there.”
Charlotte Mason volume 1, page 86

If you are buried under a blanket of snow which makes getting outdoors a challenge, then consider taking your winter nature studies indoors.

Join the Homeschool Nature Study Membership For Helpful Tips Year Round

We have an exciting winter nature study program planned for the balance of our winter Outdoor Hour Challenges during January and February full of more simple ideas to spark your family’s love for nature at this very challenging time of the year. Plenty of ideas for taking your winter nature studies indoors!

These plans are available right now for our members along with a nature study calendar full of links to explore. Both these are exclusive to our membership so if you are not yet a member please do consider joining our Outdoor Hour Challenge membership…we would love to have you become part of the family.

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Connect With Us On Social Media

Did you enjoy this Outdoor Hour Challenge on Winter Weeds? Be sure to tag @outdoorhourchallenge on Instagram and use the hashtag #outdoorhourchallenge so we can see and comment!

Winter Nature Study Resources

Here are some of our favorite resources for winter nature study!

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Autumn Birds and Project Feederwatch

Autumn Birds and Project Feederwatch

It’s that time of year again when we can start preparing to join the Project Feederwatch program along with many, many other families around North America. I just looked up my data on the website and it says that I’ve participated in the Feederwatch counts for 10 years! It’s an activity that has helped me learn more about my local birds in a way that is fun and useful to the community.

Mockingbird Dece 2015

What is Project Feederwatch? You can read more on their website here: Project Feederwatch 2021-2022. This year the counting season starts on November 13, 2021 and ends on April 30, 2022.

Project Feederwatch tally sheet

You can participate as much or as little as you desire. It only takes a few minutes on two consecutive days each week to participate. If you miss a week, that’s okay too…just pick up when you can.

Watch a video on how to get started.

The additional video below shows how this really is something everyone can participate in, even with young children.

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I love weaving a citizen science project like this into our lives. We have several feeders we can see from our windows and keeping them filled with seed is easy. Those feeders become the focal point of our bird observations because for Feederwatch you only count birds that come to eat.

chickadee at the feeder

Project Feederwatch is a perfect match for our lifestyle. It’s something that I can participate in that doesn’t take a huge commitment of time and I can do it right from my own home, even if I’m wearing my pajamas.

You may be interested in following my Nature Study – Birds Pinterest board!

Learning About Birds 3D coverDon’t forget about the Outdoor Hour Challenge – Learning About Birds ebook that is available to both Ultimate and Journey level members.

 

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Brand New! Outdoor Hour Challenge: Magpie Bird Nature Study

Brand New! Outdoor Hour Challenge

Magpie Bird Nature Study

Magpie nature study week! Once you identify a magpie, you’ll never have trouble spotting it again. It has such a beautiful color pattern, and the tail is very distinct. This makes the magpie a perfect bird to study even with very young children.

The Outdoor Hour Challenge this week is officially the black-billed magpie but some of you might need to also look up information on the yellow-billed magpie.

Outdoor Hour Challenge magpie

Take some time to prepare for your magpie study by clicking the links below:

  • Make sure to look at the range maps in a field guide or on All About Birds to determine if you might spot a magpie in your area.
  • Here are some videos for you to watch in preparation: Magpie Song and Magpie Colors.

Please note that I will not be posting the complete challenge here on the blog, but you will find the detailed challenge in the Bird Nature Study Set #1 ebook that’s available both in the Ultimate Naturalist and Journey level memberships. Sign into your account and download the ebook for the details, more links, and notebook pages.

Bird Set ebook cover image

Birds included in this ebook include the pelican, sandhill crane, Clark’s nutcracker, egret, American dipper, horned lark, magpie, swan, and snipe.

Download a sample of the book here: Bird Nature Study Set #1 Sample

To purchase an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership, click on over to the Join Us page at any time.

Learning About Birds 3D cover

You may wish to also download and use the Learning About Birds ebook available in the Ultimate Naturalist Library.

Learning About Birds ebook Bird List @handbookofnaturestudy

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Great Backyard Bird Count Results from Central Oregon

Great Backyard Bird Count

Results from Central Oregon

February 12-14, 2021

We had a fun time counting birds for the project even though we had snow two of the three days and temperatures down into the teens. We had far fewer birds than the last two years. 2021 has turned out to be a surprising year of crazy ups and downs as far as the weather here in Central Oregon. I think this influenced the bird count.

Eurasian collared dove   5

Mourning dove                 3

Downy woodpecker       1

Hairy woodpecker           1

Mountain chickadee       6

Pygmy nuthatch               3

House finch                        11

Dark-eyed junco               3

Northern flicker                1

Song sparrow                     1

Common raven                 1

Here’s a video sharing the GBBC’s results for 2021.

You can read the results and see more images at this link: Great Backyard Bird Count 2021 Results.

 Did you count birds? Anything exciting show up to be included in your count?

 

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Brand New! Outdoor Hour Challenge: Horned Lark Bird Nature Study

Brand New! Outdoor Hour Challenge

Horned Lark Bird Nature Study

We’re going to study the horned lark this week as part of the new bird nature study series.

Outdoor Hour Challenge honred lark

Here are a couple links to get your study started:

  • Look at the range map in a field guide or on All About Birds . In practically the whole continental United States, this bird is a year-round resident if you have the right habitat.
  • Do you have a habitat nearby where a horned lark may live? Use your Outdoor Hour to look for this beautiful bird.  Take along a pair of binoculars and a field guide to observe and identify any bird you see while you’re out on your excursion.


Here’s a video of the horned lark singing: Horned Lark.

Please note that I will not be posting the complete challenge here on the blog, but you will find the detailed challenge in the Bird Nature Study Set #1 ebook that’s available both in the Ultimate Naturalist and Journey level memberships.

Members: Sign into your account and download the ebook for the details, more links, and notebook pages.

Bird Set ebook cover image

Birds included in this ebook include the pelican, sandhill crane, Clark’s nutcracker, egret, American dipper, horned lark, magpie, swan, and snipe.

Download a sample of the book here: Bird Nature Study Set #1 Sample

To purchase an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership, click on over to the Join Us page at any time.

Learning About Birds 3D cover

You may wish to also download and use the Learning About Birds ebook available in the Ultimate Naturalist Library.

Learning About Birds ebook Bird List @handbookofnaturestudy

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Brand New! Outdoor Hour Challenge:American Dipper Nature Study

Brand New! Outdoor Hour Challenge

American Dipper Nature Study

This week’s bird is one that’s on my personal wish list. I hope to see a dipper in person at some point in my adventures. After completing the nature study for the American dipper, you’ll be prepared to see one too!

Read all about the American dipper on AllAboutBirds: American Dipper.

Outdoor Hour Challenge american dipper

Below you’ll find a few ideas for a dipper study. Make sure to download and use the complete Outdoor Hour Challenge from the Bird Set #1 ebook available in the member’s library.

Here are a few study ideas for you to get started:

  • Choose a resource to use for the American dipper, Cinclus mexicanus. 
  • Make sure to look at the range maps in a field guide or on All About Birds to determine if you live in their range and habitat.
  • Here’s an excellent video to watch: American Dipper.
  • Their diet is mostly aquatic insects and their larvae, dragonflies, small fish, worms, and fish eggs.

Please note that I will not be posting the complete challenge here on the blog, but you will find the detailed challenge in the Bird Nature Study Set #1 ebook that’s available both in the Ultimate Naturalist and Journey level memberships. Sign into your account and download the ebook for the details, more links, and notebook page.

 Bird Set ebook cover image

Birds included in this ebook include the pelican, sandhill crane, Clark’s nutcracker, egret, American dipper, horned lark, magpie, swan, and snipe.

Download a sample of the book here: Bird Nature Study Set #1 Sample

To purchase an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership, click on over to the Join Us page at any time.

Learning About Birds 3D cover

You may wish to also download and use the Learning About Birds ebook available in the Ultimate Naturalist Library.

Learning About Birds ebook Bird List @handbookofnaturestudy

 

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Brand New! Outdoor Hour Challenge: Great Egret Nature Study

Brand New! Outdoor Hour Challenge

Great Egret Nature Study

The great egret is one of those birds that once you can identify it, you start to see it everywhere! This unique bird is both majestic and interesting.

Make sure to read the entry on AllAboutBirds: Great Egret.

Fun fact: During breeding season, a patch of skin on their face turns neon green.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Great Egret graphic

Below you’ll find a few ideas for an egret study. Make sure to download and use the complete Outdoor Hour Challenge from the Bird Set #1 ebook available in the member’s library.

Great+egret.jpg
We see egrets regularly, but I rarely get a good image.

  •  Choose a resource to use for the great egret, ardea alba.
  • Here are some videos for you to watch in preparation: Great Egret Hunting, During Nesting Season, and this one is just plain beautiful with its close up video of the Great Egret.
  • Make a day trip to a habitat where you might see a great egret or other water bird. Take your field guide along and try to identify any bird you spot during your Outdoor Hour. Look for birds hunting along the shore or wading in the water.

Please note that I will not be posting the complete challenge here on the blog, but you will find the detailed challenge in the Bird Nature Study Set #1 ebook that’s available both in the Ultimate Naturalist and Journey level memberships. Sign into your account and download the ebook for the details, more links, and notebook page.

Bird Set ebook cover image

Birds included in this ebook include the pelican, sandhill crane, Clark’s nutcracker, egret, American dipper, horned lark, magpie, swan, and snipe.

Download a sample of the book here: Bird Nature Study Set #1 Sample

To purchase an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership, click on over to the Join Us page at any time.

Learning About Birds 3D cover

You may also wish to download and use the Learning About Birds ebook available in the Ultimate Naturalist Library.

Learning About Birds ebook Bird List @handbookofnaturestudy

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May 2021 Nature Study Plans – Outdoor Hour Challenge

May 2021 Nature Study Plans – Outdoor Hour Challenge

Our sping bird nature study continues throughout the month of May. We just saw some magpies last weekend during a camping trip and it was super exciting to note their unique shape and sound. Use the challenges each week to prepare for possible sightings in the future!

Please note that all of the birds in this series are ones not found in the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock. Instead, the challenges will be providing field notes for each birds, as well as online links and videos. If you have access to the ebook, you will also have notebooking pages and coloring pages to print and use as desired.

Bird Set ebook cover image

5/7/2021 –Egret Nature Study

5/14/2021 – American Dipper Nature Study

5/21/2021 – Horned Lark Nature Study

5/28/2021 – Magpie Nature Study

Spring Nature Hunt notebook page

Wildflower Poetry notebook page

New Printables in the Members Library

Wildflower Poetry Notebook Page: Use this notebook page to follow up a wildflower walk in your neighborhood. The suggestions will help your child write a simple poem after making wildflower observations.

Spring Nature Hunt Notebook Page: Print this activity out and take it along on a spring nature walk. Use the prompts in the grid to challenge your family to see some signs of spring. Follow up with a sketch!

Printables for Members Button

Click the graphic above to view the complete list of printables available as part of an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership.

 

May 2021 nature planner page

Members also have access to the Nature Planner pages in their library. Print out this month’s page and use it to stimulate your weekly nature study time.

 

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020

If you would like to have access to the member’s printables and the newsletter archive, I invite you to join with an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership. Your membership will be valid for one year from the date of purchase. Click the graphic above to see the many benefits of an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Brand New! Outdoor Hour Challenge: Clark’s Nutcracker Bird Nature Study

Brand New! Outdoor Hour Challenge

Clark’s Nutcracker Bird Nature Study

The Clark’s nutcracker is a bird that not many of us will encounter, especially at a backyard feeder. This bird lives high in the mountains and actually is an important part of the forest’s story. As they cache seeds for their food stores, they are actually helping to broadcast the seeds that may end up sprouting into new trees to replenish the forest.

clarks nutcracker nature journal
We see the Clark’s nutcracker every time we visit Crater Lake National Park here in Oregon.

Although the nutcracker is not a common backyard bird, your family will enjoy learning how birds and their unique habits help humans and the earth.

Outdoor Hour Challenge clarks nutcracker

Fun Fact:

The Clark’s nutcracker has a pouch under its tongue to carry seeds long distances. They bury tens of thousands of seeds each summer as winter food caches. The seeds not retrieved play a crucial role in new pine forests.

Please note that I will not be posting the complete challenge here on the blog, but you will find the detailed challenge in the Bird Nature Study Set #1 ebook that’s available both in the Ultimate Naturalist and Journey level memberships. Sign into your account and download the ebook for the details, more links, and notebook pages.

Here are some videos for you to watch in preparation:

Bird Set ebook cover image

Birds in this ebook include the pelican, sandhill crane, Clark’s nutcracker, egret, American dipper, horned lark, magpie, swan, and snipe.

Download a sample of the book here: Bird Nature Study Set #1 Sample

To purchase an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership, click on over to the Join Us page at any time.

Learning About Birds 3D cover

You may wish to also download and use the Learning About Birds ebook available in the Ultimate Naturalist Library.

Learning About Birds ebook Bird List @handbookofnaturestudy