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Outdoor Hour Challenge-Birds: Woodpecker, Chickadee, Nuthatch and Towhee

Black and White Birds Nature study @handbookofnature

This week there are a lot of birds to choose from in your challenge. We have three of them that visit us in our yard at various times of the year so we have plenty of past experience with all but the chickadee.

Outdoor Hour Challenge
Birds #7 Black and White Birds

Downy woodpecker/Hairy Woodpecker and Chickadee
White-breasted nuthatch/Red-breasted nuthatch and
Spotted towhee/Eastern towhee

Inside Preparation Work:

1. Read in the Handbook of Nature Study

  • Pages 70-74 about the downy woodpecker (Note the illustration of the woodpecker’s feet.)
  • Pages 68-70 about the chickadee
  • Pages 65-68 for the white-breasted nuthatch

This is a great video showing chickadees and a downy woodpecker eating out of someone’s hand.

Amazing. I would love to be able to do this someday.

Additional downy woodpecker videos on Cornell’s website:
Downy Woodpecker

I also like this video of the spotted towhee because it shows the sort of scuffling behavior I see under our bird feeders. I have even seen some towhees scratch away a few inches of snow to get at the seeds on the ground underneath. It is an interesting behavior.

This video is sort of long but you get the idea after watching the first minute.

2. Read in the Handbook of Nature Study the section on bird’s feet, pages 40-42. You may also like to look up this website: Types of Bird Feet

“The feet of birds are shaped so as to assist the bird to get its food as well as for locomotion.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 41


Download a copy of this Bird Feet Notebook Page to use with your family: Bird Feet.

3. Read in Backyard Birds pages 36-43 on black and white birds: woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, and towhees. Make sure to note each bird’s field marks and to practice making the bird call for each bird as well. You can follow the links above to All About Birds and click on the button to listen to a recording of each bird call. If you are keeping a list of bird calls (see challenge 5), you can add this week’s birds to your list.

4. Peterson Field Guide: Look up and read about the woodpecker, chickadee, nuthatch, and the towhee. The best way to learn to identify birds is to study about them ahead of time. You may not see any of this week’s challenge birds at this time, but you very well may do so in the future. Be prepared!

Outdoor Hour Time:
Spend a portion of your outdoor time this week looking for birds but if you are not successful, keep this challenge in mind as you go through your weekly activities. You might be surprised when and where you see your next bird. This week we will try to observe some birds and their feet. This might be a good week to visit a duck pond and observe a duck’s feet up close. For any birds you do observe during this challenge, remember to note the general shape of the bird, the size, the beak shape, and the habitat. These observations will all be helpful in learning the identity of the bird.

You could also plan a trip to a pet store that has a variety of birds to observe. Our local pet store has a parrot or two, some parakeets, doves, and usually some other kind of small bird. This would be a good way to compare the different feet and how they are designed to be used.

Follow Up Activity for the Woodpecker, Chickadee, Nuthatch, and the Towhee
Each of these birds uses its feet in a special way. Make a journal entry featuring each bird’s feet.

  • Downy woodpecker-clinging to a tree trunk
  • Chickadee-perching, clinging
  • Nuthatch-clinging to a tree trunk, creeping
  • Towhees-hopping and scratching

You will find a coloring pages for all the birds in this challenge in Cornell’s bird coloring book: Feeder Birds Coloring Book.

Follow Up Activity For Other Birds Observed:
If you are using the bird pages from (shown below), you can complete a page for the feet of the bird. You can also use your Peterson Field Guide to help identify your bird.

Just for Fun: Play a game of Guess Who? One person picks a bird and then gives clues one at a time to see if the other person can figure out what bird they are describing. For instance for a chickadee you could list the following clues one at a time: Small round bird, black and white, short beak, acrobatic, eats seeds, flies fast, black cap.
Also I am highly recommending that you purchase the Bird Bundle from as a great supplement to your study of birds using the Outdoor Hour Challenge. Note: These are affiliate links.

All About Birds Basic Study Notebooking Pages
Birds of North America Notebooking Pages

Use code discount5 to save $5 on any purchase $10 or more from the Shop. (This does not include membership purchases.)

Learning About Birds 3D cover

I have written a whole series of bird related nature study challenges that go along with the Backyard Birds book. You will find the details here: Learning About Birds with the Outdoor Hour Challenge.

Make sure to scroll down on the page and find the link to the sample for this ebook.

You can find this book in both the Ultimate and Journey level memberships on the Handbook of Nature Study.

Please note we will be working through all of the Outdoor Hour Challenges in the Learning About Birds ebook starting on March 2, 2018. Make sure to subscribe to my blog to follow along with those bird-related nature study activities.

3 thoughts on “Outdoor Hour Challenge-Birds: Woodpecker, Chickadee, Nuthatch and Towhee

  1. Eldest boy did a post on the nuthatches nesting in our backyard screech owl/kestrel box 🙂 We love how the nuthatch seems to ‘sweep’ the top of the birdhouse with his little chin. Keeping house!

  2. I just saw this after I posted our entry – and thought we’d link up here as well. 😉 We pretty much did everything you suggested – you must have trained us well! 😉

  3. Enjoyed learning more about black-capped chickadees. We see them quite often here, and like hearing them singing in the trees and at the feeders.

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