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Birdwatching 101 Attracting Birds To Your Yard

Here you will find all sorts of ideas for attracting birds to your yard for homeschool nature study and birdwatching without ever leaving your backyard.

Here you will find all sorts of ideas for attracting birds to your yard for homeschool nature study and birdwatching. We love to watch birds and do so on a regular basis without ever leaving our backyard. We can watch from our window or our deck and see usually around 4-5 different kinds of birds each day. At sometimes of the year, we have a lot more than that and it is exciting to see a new kind in the feeders.

Birdwatching 101 Attracting Birds to Your Yard

Here are some ideas for attracting birds to your yard.

Here you will find all sorts of ideas for attracting birds to your yard for homeschool nature study and birdwatching without ever leaving your backyard.

Homeschool Nature Study with a Variety of Bird Feeders

  • Try a variety of bird feeders. We made most of ours from scraps around the house and my boys love to hammer a nail and saw boards so this is a great project with a little supervision.
  • We have some that are called platform feeders. The birds actually land on the feeder and eat from the seed in the tray. We have scrub jays (blue jays), tit mouses, towhees, dark eyed juncos, and house sparrows in these feeders.
  • The second kind of feeders are the hopper kind of feeders where the bird lands on the perches and eat from holes in the sides of the feeders. Birds like house finches, goldfinches, and house sparrows like these types of feeders.
Hummingbird homeschool nature study ideas.

Attracting Birds with a Homeschool Nature Garden

Now for the more “natural” way to attract birds to your yard with a garden. We have chosen some plants for our garden area that seem to attract birds…especially hummingbirds. We planted butterfly bushes and trumpet vines on our arbor to attract butterflies but they seem to attract more hummingbirds. I am not complaining because they are beautiful and I say the more the merrier.

We have several varieties of sunflowers in our garden. Both planted with seed and those that came up from our feeder spillage. The yellow finches seem to like to eat the whole leaf of the the sunflower leaving just a little skeleton for us to look at.

We also have a fig tree in our yard and the scrub jays love to sit and peck at the fruit for an evening meal. They make a big mess but I’m glad someone is eating the figs.

So hopefully that gives you at least an idea of how to attract some birds to your own yard so that you can enjoy birdwatching from your window or backyard.

You may also be interested in visiting my page on feeding birds in winter….which would also apply at other times of the year as well: How To Feed Birds

And don’t miss our Ultimate List of Birds Homeschool Nature Study Resources Using the Outdoor Hour Challenges too!

Join Our Homeschool Nature Study Membership for Year Round Support

You will find a continuing series on bird nature study, bird watching and attracting birds plus all the Outdoor Hour Challenges for nature study in our Homeschool Nature Study membership. There are 25+ continuing courses with matching Outdoor Hour curriculum that will bring the Handbook of Nature Study to life in your homeschool! In addition, there is an interactive monthly calendar with daily nature study prompt – all at your fingertips!

-First published by Barb May 2008. Updated January 2022 by Tricia.

Here you will find all sorts of ideas for attracting birds to your yard for homeschool nature study and birdwatching with bird feeders and garden plants.
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Outdoor Hour Challenge: Nature Study Lab in Your Own Backyard

Outdoor Hour Challenge

Week 2 – September 10, 2021

Nature Study Lab in Your Own Backyard

The habit of nature study is best when you can regularly be outside with your children. For our family, this habit was built out in our backyard, mostly because it was convenient but also for the simple reason that I felt it was important for my children to learn about real things, plants, and animals they could observe up close.

A Little Inspiration

I once read an article written by a mom who had little by little converted her suburban backyard into a wild place for her children. She brought in some rocks for lizards and insects to take shelter in. She sourced a big log to give the kids the opportunity to experience the living creatures that lived in, under, and on the log, as well as observe the log’s decomposition. She made a sand pile for digging with pails and shovels. There were places to play in the hose and make mud. After reading of that experience, it occurred to me that with a little effort on her part, she had created a space for her children to experience nature even in a small backyard.

In My Experience

Our backyard seemed the best place to start! After all, it’s a short voyage from our home to this “nature study lab”.  Quickly I realized that we could enhance our experience by attracting wildlife into our space.  Starting small, we grew our habitat each year, adding more opportunities for exploring and observing wildlife without leaving home. Having nature out the back door helped create a habit of getting outside with my children.

What can you do to get started?

Assess Your Yard and Make a Plan

Make an assessment of what you already have available in your yard. You can use the printable linked below to get started. Ask your children to help you make an inventory of what may already be working for wildlife.

As you build your backyard habitat, you will have more opportunities to closely observe and enjoy birds, small mammals, reptiles, insects, and others who make a home or visit your little wildlife oasis.

This project can be as simple or complex as you make it. Perhaps just making one change at a time to see what works for your yard will be enough to bump up your wildlife visitors a notch.

Simple First Steps:

  • Add a water source in the form of a shallow basin or saucer.
  • Add a birdfeeder.
  • Add a shrub.
  • Add some rocks.
  • Add a potted plant with blooming flowers.

Keeping in mind that a wildlife habitat needs water, shelter, and food, build your backyard habitat even if you are on a limited budget. Let friends and family know about your nature study project and see if they have items they can share with you.

The nature study habit is easier when you have constant and endless access to your backyard habitat. No need to travel far! In studying nature close to home, our children will learn to observe, to write about their experiences, to draw their treasures, to be patient, to imagine, and to explore.

Anna Botsford Comstock in her book Handbook of Nature Study puts her thoughts this way, “Nature study is for the comprehension of the individual life of the bird, insect, or plant that is nearest at hand.”

In the book Last Child in the Woods, the author makes the point several times that today’s science textbooks and programs are missing the mark. Many, many young students know more about the tropical rainforests and volcanoes of the world than they know about their own backyards.

“Adults should realize the most valuable thing children can learn is what they discover themselves about the world they live in. Once they experience first-hand the wonder of nature, they will want to make nature observation a life-long habit.”
Charlotte Mason, Volume 1, page 61

Miss Mason was really helping us to see how to make science meaningful for our children. No longer will science be abstract or have a political agenda. The simple habit of getting outside with our children is easy to reach; we are often the ones making it complicated.


Beyond the Simple First Steps:

The National Wildlife Federation website is a wealth of information on how to create your own habitat, step by step. Read this article about creating a wildlife habitat in your own yard. There is also a short video to watch:

Ultimate Naturalist Library Members

  • Look for the Wildlife Habitat Plan printable posted in the Getting Back to Basics – The Habit of Nature Study section of the Member’s Library. Download the file and have your children help you complete the assessment this week.
  • Look for the Know Your Own Backyard printable posted in the Getting Back to Basics – The Habit of Nature Study section of the Member’s Library.
  • Outdoor+Hour+Challenge+9+Small+square+@handbookofnaturestudy.jpgOutdoor Hour Challenge #9 in the Getting Started ebook features the One Small Square activity. Complete this challenge in your own backyard to bring to light subjects you may be overlooking. This challenge will help you focus on a small area of any yard, anywhere. There is a coordinating activity found in this entry: 5 Ways to Use Your Magnifying Lens.  You can incorporate the two printables linked in this entry to your study of nature in your own backyard.
  • Read the April 2012 newsletter: Backyard Habitat


Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020

Members can click here to log into your account to download any of the items mentioned above.

If you’re not a member here on the Handbook of Nature Study yet, please consider joining to gain the benefit of having a nature study library at your fingertips. There are numerous resources available for you to help create the habit of nature study within your family.

Please note that the Ultimate Naturalist Library will only be available until 12/31/2021. At that time my website will be shutting down.

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If you are an email subscriber to the Handbook of Nature Study, you may consider saving this email in a folder for future reference. The blog will be retiring at the end of the year as well.






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Nature Goals 2021: 1st Quarter Update

Nature Goals 2021

1st Quarter Update

Nature Study Goals 2021

In the original 2021 nature goals entry, I talked a lot about the process of making goals and then refining goals as you saw the need. Here were the steps:

  • Be flexible.
  • Review your goals periodically.
  • Break larger goals into smaller steps.
  • Make a reasonable list.
  • Create achievable goals.

If you’d like to read the complete entry with all of the suggestions, you can click here: Nature Study Goals 2021.

One way that I review my goals and how I’m doing, is to reflect back at the end of each quarter to see how things are going. You can read the goals for the year in the entry linked above. I will give you a little update for each goal below.

garden prep april 2021
We have cleaned up the boxes and made sure the drip watering system is ready to go for seed sowing. Probably going to wait until May 1st to get seeds started.

Backyard Habitat development:  We just started working in the garden in the past few weeks. But, I have on paper a lot of ideas we want to implement this year. For the first quarter we made plans, ordered seeds, and spent time observing what was already working as far as supporting the local wildlife. This quarter will be the heavy lifting aspects of creating more wildlife friendly habitat. If this is something you are interested in doing for your family, you can read my entry: Creating a Wildlife Habitat in Your Own Backyard.

Painted Hills March 2021
Look for an entry in May that reveals our day trip to the Painted Hills.

Local Hikes: We found new places to hike even in the winter as part of this local hikes goal. There are several places along the Deschutes River that are accessible to hiking in the winter. We chose sunny days to explore Sawyer Park and Steelhead Falls. We drove out to the Painted Hills for a day hike with some of the kids. I’m saying this quarter went better than expected and I’m eager to do some spring hiking here in Central Oregon.

Make notes in field guides: I’m keeping up the habit of making notes in my field guides as we identify new species of birds, animals, and plants.

crossbills february 2021
Our unexpected visitors! We had a group of crossbills come through on a Feederwatch count day.

Project Feederwatch and Great Backyard Bird Count: The Feederwatch project is coming to a close here at the end of April. We’ve only missed a couple of weeks of counting and it has helped us be aware of the comings and goings of the birds at our feeders. The GBBC was another enjoyable experience as we took part in the worldwide bird count. I’ll be posting about the particulars soon!

Go camping: We didn’t make it out camping in the first quarter. But, we have several trips planned for the spring season and one for the summer.

succulents april 2021

Learn about succulents: I spent some time reading books about succulents over the quarter. Our library has quite a few to choose from since succulents are a big part of the landscaping here in Central Oregon. I went out yesterday and looked at the ones we have in our yard and they are all looking mighty healthy. I noticed new growth and spreading for many of them. I will continue to work on my knowledge as we get into our real growing season.

I did a pretty good job of keeping all my goals in mind this quarter. Now, I just need to keep it going.

Have you created nature study goals for your family?

Could you use some help in keeping nature study a regular part of your week?

You can join as an Ultimate Naturalist Library member and immediately have access to hundreds of nature study ideas and printables.

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020

Click the graphic above to see the complete benefits of a membership. Join and make 2021 the best year of nature study ever for your family!

Use the discount code NATURE5 for $5 off an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership!


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Your Backyard Habitat:Look for Something of Interest

Your Backyard Habitat

Look for Something of Interest

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few months working on a new ebook for all of us to use in creating a backyard habitat designed to attract birds, bees, and butterflies. I’ve heard from so many of my readers that they think their backyard space is boring or nothing out of the ordinary. So this week, I’m going to challenge you all to get outside and prove yourselves wrong!

summer garden 2020
Last year’s garden was filled with lots of living things.


Every space has something to observe, and the list below will help you start thinking differently about whatever your outdoor space is currently looking like at the beginning of spring. As part of the process in creating a backyard habitat, the first step is to make an assessment of what you already have and then decide how you can improve it. Challenge your children to check off as many things as they can from the list below.

What Do You Observe?

  • Trees: leaves, bark, twigs, roots, flowers, cones, needles, seeds, pods, nests, birds
  • Patch of weeds: leaves, roots, bugs, flowers
  • Dirt: worms, gravel, stones, seeds, mud, ants, mushrooms, moss
  • Sky: clouds, sun, moon, stars, birds
  • Air: temperature, wind, smells, breath on a cold morning
  • Birds: flying, pecking, eating, chirping, hopping, shapes and colors, beaks, wings, tails, feet
  • Sounds: wind, frogs, rain, leaves, crickets, bees, fly buzzing, mosquitoes
  • Weather: rain, clouds, temperature, snow, ice, dew, wind
  • Flowers (garden or in a pot): petals, pollen, roots, leaves, stem, fragrance, shapes, colors, seeds

We need to train our eyes and hearts to be open to the opportunities that arise in our everyday travels.

I’m anticipating the new backyard habitat ebook to be in the Ultimate Naturalist Library for members by the end of April 2021. Exciting times coming for you and your family as you start the process of creating a backyard habitat to use for nature study and so much more!


Members have access to the Garden Flowers and Crops ebook in their library. This is also a fantastic resource for learning about gardening along with your children.

Herb Nature Study ebook cover graphic

We’ll be using the Herb Nature Study ebook later this summer for our weekly Outdoor Hour Challenges. If you have access now, you can get a jump start by reading through the book and planning a few herbs to grow for your nature study time.


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Handbook of Nature Study Newsletter – January 2017 Backyard Nature Ideas

HNS Newsletter January 2017 Backyard Nature Cover

Handbook of Nature Study Newsletter

January 2017 – Backyard Nature Ideas


Please read the following explanation outlining how to get this month’s newsletter.

The newsletter link is not in this email but will come separately. There may be a delay in your receiving the email so please don’t email me until the second day of the month if you haven’t received the link on the first. For some reason, some email providers take longer to receive the newsletter email.

If you don’t receive the separate email with the download link, you probably aren’t subscribed to the blog yet. This will take less than a minute to do if you follow the steps below.

If you are a subscriber and you haven’t received your newsletter email yet, check your SPAM inbox. Some subscribers have found the email buried in SPAM inbox.

Handbook of Nature Study Subscribe Now

If you need to subscribe:

  • You will need to go to the Handbook of Nature Study, look to the top right corner for the box to type in your preferred email address, and then confirm the email that comes to your email inbox.
  • Once you subscribe, you will receive a thank you email from me with the download link for the current month’s newsletter.

This month’s newsletter link will be available only during the month of December so be sure to download it before 1/31/17.

Remember! All of the archived and current newsletters are available as part of the Ultimate Naturalist Library…every level!

Handbook of Nature Study Newsletter January 2017 cover button

Contents of this edition of the newsletter include:

  • This month we are focusing on finding something in our own backyard for nature study. I have written an article sharing subjects that might be right outside your back door and then a plan for following up with some of the Outdoor Hour Challenges available on the website archives.
  • There is a new article from Shirley Vels (from Under an English Sky) that tells how she uses her kitchen window as a way to view the natural world.
  • From the archives: There are two articles I wrote that explain how we created a “wild side” in our yard as a nature “laboratory” and another article that talks about creating sensory experiences in your own backyard.
  • January Planning Page for Mom – Much more than just a planner page, this is full of nature journal ideas, a short challenge for parents, links to the up-coming challenges, and ideas for using the archives.
  • Printables: This month I have mined the archives to find a nature study grid and bookmark for you to print and use. Plus, there is a brand new nature journal topper just perfect for this month’s nature study topic..winter backyard study.

Resources for your Nature Library: I have started to build a nature library store on Amazon that will feature by category my favorite nature study books and resources. Take a look and see if there is anything you would like to put on your wish list for your family’s nature study library: Handbook of Nature Study Nature Library Suggestions on Note this is my affiliate store to items I personally recommend and have read or seen in person.

Please note that Ultimate Naturalist and Journey level members have access to members only printables each month in addition to the newsletter printables. You will need to log into your account and then go to the “Other Releases” section.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Winter 2016 More Nature Study We will be using the More Nature Study – Winter ebook starting on January 13, 2017. You can find it in the Ultimate Naturalist Library.

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Our Spring Tree – Officially Starting a New Study

We have completed several year-long tree studies in the past, observing a particular tree in each season for a whole year. We haven’t had a tree for some time. I looked back and we started a study of the neighborhood cottonwood tree but never finished. Oops.

Oak Tree 2007-2008
Sweet Gum 2008-2009
Tulip Tree 2010-2011
Birch Tree 2011-2012
Cottonwood Tree – 2012-incomplete

Time for a fresh start and a new tree. We looked around our yard and realized that we have studied quite a few of those trees already. Hunting around, we found a new tree. We know the tree as the “birdfeeder tree” because it has always had our birdfeeder hanging from its branches. We don’t know what the name of the tree is officially so it is going to be a mystery tree until we complete the study.

You can see the Outdoor Hour Challenge Spring Tree entry to get started on your own tree study.

This is our tree looking from our back deck and between our house and the neighbor’s house.  It is an awkward place to take a photo but you get the idea of the shape of the tree. You can see the Pittosporum plant on the right of the tree.


Here is a look at the branches from underneath. In the summer this tree shades the end of our deck where I have some chairs and a table. We spend many an afternoon and evening enjoying the shade given by our “birdfeeder tree”.

This is what is on the branches on this first day of spring. Wow! Look at all those tree parts. A few days ago, when the sun was shining on the tree, I could see it actually giving off little puffs of pollen into the breeze. I am sure this is the tree that is making pollen on the deck.

Here is another view of the flowers (fruits?) of this mystery tree. If anyone has any idea what this tree is from looking at the images in this entry, please leave me a comment or send me an email. I freely admit I don’t know all there is to know, or even a fraction of what there is to know, about trees even in my own backyard.

I added a photo and some notes to my page that I had prepared using the new Nature Journal Topper from the newsletter. Hopefully this will remind me to complete a summer study of our tree and perhaps be able to identify it when it has leaves.

Have you picked a tree to study for a year?



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Winter Garden for Wildlife – Part 2 Shelter

Winter gardening for wildlife allows our family to help sustain our local animal community during the long cold winter months when they are looking for their basic needs of food, water, and shelter. In my last Winter Garden For Wildlife post, I shared how we have structured our garden to help encourage wildlife to visit all year long. One of the vital components of a winter garden for wildlife is to create sheltering spots.This often means leaving a little “messiness” in your winter garden. With just a little effort and planning, you can be rewarded with daily visits from the birds and other animals who enjoy your winter garden.

Here are some ideas for you to use in your own winter garden oasis for sheltering spots —–
bushes, rocks, trees, arbor, leaf piles.

Spreading fallen leaves over your flower beds makes a place for birds to forage and other creatures to over-winter. I have observed the towhees and the juncos picking through the leaves looking for something to eat. We even add in a few of the smaller fallen branches to the pile which give additional spots for birds to perch and land under the feeder. If you have access to a few logs, making a log pile would be another option for a variety of creatures to use as shelter.

Rock Shelter for insects and invertebrates @HBNatureStudy

Our rock patches are the perfect place for overwintering creatures to hide in and under.I know there are insects of some kind living in these rocks….I have seen beetles. I also have observed that the Western scrub jays and robins poke around in these rocks which leads me to believe there are some tasty morsels in the rocks for them to enjoy.

large rock shelter mammals invertebrates @HBNatureStudy

Larger rocks allow for creatures to shelter from the winter temperatures and conditions. They seem to find all the nooks and crannies to squeeze into and to use as protection. I have even seen a few lizards out here on the big rocks…not my favorite creatures but still very awesome to see.

Vine Shelter for birds and insects @HBNatureStudy

Although we do prune back the trumpet vines and climbing rose twice a year, we leave it to grow over the winter to allow the birds to perch and shelter. Our main backyard bird feeder is just to the left of the edge of this photo and the birds will use these vines as landing spots on their way to and from the feeder. I have also seen the birds huddled inside the vines when the wind is howling away…they seem all snug tucked up inside. The littler birds escape the larger birds by getting up inside the vines…many layers of shelter going on in this spot of the yard.

Dried plant stem shelter for insects @HBNatureStudy

Leaving dry plant stems in the garden leaves a place for insects and spiders to shelter. I read somewhere that there are insects that will crawl into the hollow stems for shelter through the winter. I have not seen this yet but my eyes are on the alert!

Shrubs shelter for birds mammals and insects @HBNatureStudy

The shrubs and bushes in our yard provide the best protection from the rain and snow. I often will see birds tucked up inside the limbs of the bushes in our yard even in the hardest downpours. There are several spots in the lavender bushes that look like the image above where the birds have created a little hiding spot.

Planning ahead when you are finishing your autumn garden clean-up gives your winter garden a chance to provide the shelter your neighborhood creatures need to survive the cold and wet conditions of the season. Shelter from the wind, rain, snow, ice, and predators is a vital part of any winter garden plan.

Do you have any additional ideas for winter garden shelter for wildlife? 

You may be interested in reading this additional backyard habitat entry:
Making Your Backyard a Wildlife Habitat

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Winter Garden For Wildlife Part 1

Now that the season has changed and we have cleaned up the yard for the coming season, I thought I would share a few of the ways we keep our yard as a wildlife habitat in winter. It is just a matter of knowing which plants to prune back and which ones can be left as they are.

We have learned by trial and error mostly.

The Heavenly bamboo along the front of our house is not only colorful this time of year with the leaves turning reddish and the berries ripening to a brilliant orange-red but it is a source of shelter for birds and insects. I have seen the Ruby-crowned kinglet gathering spiderwebs from these bushes. (Audubon website says of the kinglet’s nest, “Moss, grass, lichen, bark strips, twigs, rootlets, needles, and spider webs comprise its outer walls, and feathers, plant down, and hair form a soft lining.”)

We leaves some of the grasses and weeds for the birds and other animals to use as food and shelter.

They don’t look very appetizing but the birds think these are tasty little treats….blackberries left on the vine just behind our bird feeding station. The finches, sparrows, titmouse, and towhees all shelter on and under these vines. I also saw fox scat just by these vines last week so I think they might be gleaning a few berries as well (as evidenced in the scat).

The coneflowers are another favorite in the winter flower garden. I cut them way back but leave some of the seed heads for the birds to glean from.

We also have learned that some of the weeds in our yard are best left to over-winter. These mullein plants will shoot up a stalk next spring and then flower all summer. The hummingbirds and finches will use them as a steady part of their diet. We leave those in the garden.

I harvested about thirty pounds of walnuts this year for our enjoyment. I will spend many a winter evening hour cracking nuts for our family and to share with friends. Some of those friends will have feathers and fur. I leave quite a few of the nuts for the squirrels and Scrub jays to use for their winter meals. When I note that all the nuts are up off the ground, I will regularly set some out of my store cupboard in various parts of the yard. They always disappear.

Lavender along the front wall is once place I trim but not all the way back. It looks sort of wild but it does provide shelter all winter long for birds and nectar for the hummingbirds and bees. Yes, we have bees and hummingbirds in the winter who frequent this section of the garden. It amazes me every time I see the birds hovering over those small little flowers but they must be gathering some food or they wouldn’t come back. I also love leaving this section of lavender because when the sun hits those plants it produces a sweet smell that reminds me that summer will come again.

It can’t all be about the animals, birds, and insects.

I have another post that I will share in the next few weeks showing some more sheltering spots in our yard that may inspire you to try your hand at a winter garden for wildlife.

I invite you to read Winter Garden for Wildlife Part 2 – Shelter.

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Backyard Birds – Autumn Images

I love the way this image came out with the gray sky as the background and then the shapes of the sticker balls and leaves.

The bird watching in our neighborhood has significantly improved with cooler weather. The number and variety of birds has been amazing! Every day I end up with my camera and binoculars viewing some new bird visitor….in my feeder, under my feeder, in the berry bushes, in the pistache tree, in the birch tree, in the sweet gum tree.

This was obviously on another day when we had crystal clear skies. This Western bluebird and many of his friends were eating the fruits of the pistache tree. These are such pretty birds and they always seem to come in a flock.

I love it when I load the photos onto my desktop and I find I have captured a “moment”. This is another Western bluebird image showing his magnificent wings and ability to grab a bite to eat on the fly. Love it!

Here is another one of those surprise images. I think this is a starling and I love the way it shows his legs and feet and speckled belly.

We had a couple of days this month when we had turkey vultures by the tens all soaring over our house. All of those black specks are turkey vultures just soaring and swirling around. We looked it up on the internet and there is an official name for this….a kettle of turkey vultures.

Fun Turkey Vulture song on

We also had one day where the sparrows came by the hundreds to eat at our feeders, in the trees, and on the street as well. It was an amazing sight.

We have been counting birds as part of Project Feederwatch a couple of days a week.

Here is my list:

  • House sparrows
  • House finches
  • White-crowned sparrows
  • Dark eyed juncos
  • Titmouse
  • Anna’s hummingbirds
  • Lesser goldfinches
  • Spotted towhees
  • Western bluebirds
  • White-breasted nuthatches
  •  Cedar waxwings
  • American robins
  • Mourning doves
  • European starlings

Next month one of the Outdoor Hour Challenges is to note how the weather affects animals and birds in our neighborhood. This will be a fun way to see how our autumn birds stack up against other seasons. 


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Ant Nature Study- Right in Our Own Backyard

I finally remembered where I had seen lots of ants….on our backyard trumpet vines. This morning I had a chance to go out with Mr. A and take a closer look armed with our cameras and a desire to learn more.

After watching the ants for a few minutes, I realized they were not the only insect enjoying this colorful vine. The honeybees were buzzing right at ear level and even though I knew they were not interested much in me, I felt the need to keep getting out of their way.  They were very active and in the photo above you can see there would be multiple bees in one flower. This one had four!

After coming back inside, we did some research online to reveal why the ants are on the trumpet vine. There seems to be two lines of thinking:
1. The ants are farming aphids that also live on the trumpet vine.
2. The ants are actually partaking of the nectar found in the trumpet vine blossom.

This led to more outdoor time trying to discover which it was in our case.They definitely were interested in the flowers so I think our ants were after the nectar of the flowers.

According to the USDA, the trumpet vine is a habitat to the hummingbird, the butterfly, and the ant.  I thought it was interesting that the USDA also considers the trumpet vine to be an “invasive weed”. We have had trouble with it sending out its sucker roots and coming up in the lawn but we just keep mowing them down.

Of course, Kona needed a little attention when we were out looking for ants. Smile Kona!

We ended up walking around the garden and ticking off a few of our insect grid tasks…and finding two surprising insects which I will save for my grid study entry next week. I love the way we start off looking for something as simple as an ant, find ourselves asking a question that we answer with more research, investigate some more about a plant we have in our backyard, and end up really enjoy our time together. Although we had a focus in mind when we went outside, the nature study part was very relaxed and natural.

Right in our own backyard.

I am going to record the insects we saw on my insect list from the monthly newsletter, make a nature journal entry for the trumpet vine since we did all the research, and mark off several of the squares on our insect grid.

OHC Blog Carnival
Hope you are enjoying your monthly focus on insects this month and don’t forget to send in your blog entries for the carnival.