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Summer Butterfly Nature Study – How to Make a Butterfly Puddle

Enjoy a summer butterfly nature study! Here is an easy step-by-step on how to make a butterfly puddle right in your own backyard.

Over the years, I’ve observed butterflies along hiking trails in the muddy edges. There will sometimes be 10 or 12 butterflies sitting on the mud slowly opening and closing their wings. This behavior fascinated me! After a little research on the internet, I discovered that butterflies are attracted to mud puddles for not only the moisture but the minerals and salts that are present in the mud.

Enjoy a summer nature study! Here is an easy step-by-step on how to make a butterfly puddle and attract butterflies to your backyard garden.

Summer Butterfly Nature Study – How To Make a Butterfly Puddle

So, this summer I’ve decided I want to make my own butterfly mud puddle, but make it in a large saucer. During my research, I ran across several websites and videos that explained how to make an artificial mud puddle that butterflies could use in my garden.

Basically, you add sand to the saucer along with some sort of mineral source. I decided to try compost, a little gravel, a few rocks, and a bit of Epsom salts with my sand. Then you add water to moisten your “puddle”.

Here is a step-by-step how to for a butterfly puddle.

Attract Butterflies to Your Garden with a Butterfly Puddle

Here’s a YouTube video for you to watch for a tutorial:

Simple and easy!

I would love for you to give this project a try with your children and let me know if you were successful too!

You can always leave me a comment, email me directly, or post an image on Instagram and use the hashtag outdoorhourchallenge.

More Resources For Homeschool Nature Study

For even more homeschool nature study ideas, join us in Homeschool Nature Study membership! You’ll receive new ideas each and every week that require little or no prep – all bringing the Handbook of Nature Study to life in your homeschool!

Be inspired. Be encouraged. Get Outdoors!

Enjoy a summer nature study! Here is an easy step-by-step on how to make a butterfly puddle and attract butterflies to your backyard garden.

By Barb, July 2021

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How to Make Your Backyard a Natural Habitat for Wildlife

Here are some simple ways you can make your backyard a natural habitat for wildlife. You will love having the opportunity to have nature come to you in your very own backyard. Involve your whole family in the project and spend some time outdoors!

When we first moved into our house over twenty years ago, the backyard was fairly generic. It had a big weedy lawn, a pine tree, a few fruit trees, blackberries along the fence, and some bushes in the back. The front yard had a magnolia tree and some lawn. Not really very inviting to either humans or animals. It was not a very big yard either and we did not have a lot of money to do big landscape projects at that time.

We didn’t set out to create a natural habitat for wildlife in our yard, but it has turned out that way with some simple ideas in mind. Working on one small area at a time we managed to eventually build up what we have now.

How to Get Started Making Your Backyard a Natural Habitat for Wildlife

Animals and Birds need some basic things in order to consider your backyard an attractive habitat.

  • Food
  • Water
  • Shelter
  • Somewhere to have their young
Here are some simple ways you can make your backyard a natural habitat for wildlife. You will love having nature come to you in your very own backyard.

Food Sources for Your Backyard

Here are some ideas for food sources for wildlife:

  • Wild sources of food in your backyard like blackberries and grasses that produce seeds.
  • You can plant a variety of things to help provide food as well.
  • We have a fig tree, a walnut tree, sunflowers every summer, and flowers whose nectar is attractive to birds and insects like trumpet vine and butterfly bush.
  • A trumpet vine is a favorite of the hummingbirds when it is in bloom. There will three or four all sipping nectar on various sides of the trellis and they are amazing to watch. We also have several types of bird feeders in our yard at varying levels.
  • Platform feeders, hopper feeders, hummingbird feeders, and special finch feeders are filled all year round. We have a suet feeder that we add in the winter.
  • We also have a butterfly/hummingbird garden established with quite a few plants that are attractive to various kinds of butterflies.
  • We have seen Tiger swallowtails already this year and we are hoping to start attracting some Monarchs with the milkweed that we have started in a patch near the back of the garden.
  • We also know that a variety of mammals eat the seed under the feeders. We have seen skunks, voles, and moles. We have seen evidence of other rodents but can’t be sure exactly what else is out there at night.
a water source for your backyard habitat. Here are some simple ways you can make your backyard a natural habitat for wildlife. You will love having nature come to you in your very own backyard.

Water Sources for Your Backyard Nature Study

A water source is essential in attracting wildlife to your backyard natural habitat.

  • We have two bird baths that are available for the birds year round. We also have noticed the birds perched on the potted plants getting water from the base. The birds also enjoy the rainbird sprinklers when they are on and we frequently see blackbirds shaking around in the spray.
  • We have seen little raccoon footprints around the bird bath as well. We know we have at least one raccoon because we have seen him up on our deck at night looking in the back window. Too cute.
watering the garden. Homeschool nature study

Shelter for Wildlife

Here are some ideas for shelter for wildlife in your backyard natural habitat:

  • We have not been successful with having birds nest in our birdhouse, but we have had several birds over the years make nests in our magnolia and sequoia trees.
  • There are also birds that nest in the eave of our neighbors garage right along the fence line. They fly in and out and use our feeders. Believe it or not, the birds fly into the space under the beam. If you click the photo you can see where they go in and out.
  • We have three large areas where we have shrubs for the birds to hide in. These photinia bushes behind the garden provide a great spot for the finches and little birds to perch as they wait their turn at the feeders.
  • These areas are near the feeders and the bird baths and the birds seem to like having the option to fly into the shrub and then check the feeder out before perching to eat a meal. The bushes come alive in the winter when the weather is wet because so many birds take shelter there out of the weather.
  • The back oak tree has bats from time to time and if we come out at night we can see them flying around the backyard eating insects midair.
  • We have a section of our yard that has big river rocks and this is where you will find a variety of insects living underneath and also a shelter for the reptiles in our yard. Yes, we have a couple types of lizards and other reptiles in our yard and the boys love it.
  • The grape vines which we planted last year are providing another spot for the birds to perch plus the added bonus of some seedless grapes for us at the end of the season.
  • Another great place that we know we have provided shelter is within our compost pile. This really could go under the category of food as well since we know that birds and other small creatures forage in the compost for meals.
bird nest - Here are some simple ways you can make your backyard a natural habitat for wildlife. You will love having nature come to you in your very own backyard.

Natural Habitat: Provide a Place to Raise Young

The trees in our yard are a great place for birds to raise their babies. We just had “flying school” for the Scrub jays in our yard for the babies. They have all flown out on their own now and it was fun to watch. The hummingbirds are all up in a pine tree and a cedar tree that borders the back of our property and although we have never seen them, we know they nest and raise babies there.

We do have our limits thought….the six foot fence all the way around was in response to the mule deer that would come in and devastate a whole vegetable garden in one night. We knew we would be forcing them to go elsewhere for a meal but we live fairly close to a riparian habitat that they can graze and get water from. They still make themselves at home in our unfenced front yard and I hear them on hot summer nights snacking on my roses. I guess they must be hungry. The photo above shows where on the side of the house outside the fenced in area, the deer are still taking shelter here and sleeping. You can see where the grasses and plants are all flattened down from where they lay down and rest.

Last year we had a family of skunks move in under the back deck. I had the boys fill up the crevice with rocks as soon as they moved out. As much as I love wildlife, having a skunk family that near to our house was not pleasant…you can only imagine.

So there are some ideas to get you started with your backyard natural habitat. Take it one section and one idea at a time and soon you will have your own nature study laboratory right outside your back door. It has taken us over twenty years to build up the different aspects but it has been a labor of love. We are continually adding little things to help make the backyard beautiful and also attractive to birds and other animals.

You might be interested in what the National Wildlife Federation says about building a backyard natural habitat.
Create A Wildlife Habitat

You will also like these ideas for Creating Your Backyard Homeschool Nature Study Laboratory.

You will find hundreds of homeschool nature studies plus all the Outdoor Hour Challenges 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!

Join The Homeschool Nature Study Membership for Year Round Support

You will find hundreds of homeschool nature studies plus all the Outdoor Hour Challenges 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!

written by Barb June 2009, updated by Tricia February 2022

Here are some simple ways you can make your backyard a natural habitat for wildlife. You will love having nature come to you in your very own backyard.
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July 2021 Nature Study Plans – Outdoor Hour Challenge

July 2021 Nature Study Plans – Outdoor Hour Challenge

This is the month many of my readers have been waiting for! I know that it has been a long time coming, but we are going to finally be working through the series of Outdoor Hour Challenges for herbs!

Herb Nature Study ebook cover graphic

We have one last wildflower study and then we are off to use our senses to learn about some more familiar herbs grown in our gardens. I think you whole family will enjoy learning about the benefits and uses of the herbs. It is not too late to pick up some of the herbs at your garden nursery and grow a few in pots. You can create your own little herb “lab” for your nature study this summer.

7/2/2021 –Forget-Me-Nots Nature Study (last wildflower challenge)

7/9/2021 – Cilantro Nature Study

7/16/2021 – Basil Nature Study

7/23/2021 – Bee Balm Nature Study

7/30/21 – Oregano Nature Study

My Nature Walk senses notebook page

Butterflies of Summer Notebook Page

New Printables in the Members Library

Butterflies of Summer Notebook Page: What could go better with a study of garden herbs? I think making some butterfly observations would be a perfect complement to your herb study. 

My Nature Walk Notebook Page: Use your senses to create some summertime memories this month. Take a nature walk, perhaps in the early morning or the evening. Then create a notebook page for your nature journal using the new page in the Member’s Library.

Printables for Members Button

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

 

July 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 2020If 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.

Herb Nature Study ebook cover graphic

 

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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Summer Monarch Butterfly

Monarch Butterfly nature Study @handbookofnaturestudy

Outdoor Hour Challenge

Monarch Butterflies

From the Archives and from the More Nature Study – Summer ebook

The monarch butterfly is an amazing creation. It is such a quintessential butterfly, easily recognized by its brilliant orange and black accented wings. It may appear to be fragile, but just learning about how hard this butterfly works at keeping the life cycle going makes you realize it is a mighty creature. The distances it flies to find its perfect host plant, the milkweed, is a story all in itself.

Use the ideas in the archive challenge to learn more about the monarch and then look for it in your garden or neighborhood this summer.

You may also wish to complete a milkweed study alongside the monarch butterfly study because they are so intertwined in their life stories.

Be sure to create a nature journal page to follow up your study.

Monarch butterfly garden

You can read about our monarch study here in this entry: Family Monarch Study.

Notebooking Pages Free Membership

I would love for you to click over and get your free membership to use with your family. Please note that I am an affiliate for NotebookingPages.com but highly recommend this product after years of use in my own family.

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A Place for Birds and Butterflies – Book Review

A Place for Birds and Butterflies Review @handbookofnaturestudy

A Place for Butterflies and A Place for Birds are two of the books in the series written by Melissa Stewart (see all books in this series on her website). I first saw these at a gift shop at a national park and was tempted to purchase them because of their gorgeous illustrations (done by Higgins Bond). These award winning books were my February selections for my Nature Book Project for 2016.

Please note that the above amazon.com links are affiliate links. I purchased these books with my own money and have written an honest review.

A Place For Birds @handbookofnaturestudy

Along with the beautiful illustrations, I really enjoyed the concept of how to create in our local communities a space and place to nurture the native butterflies and birds that make their homes there. Specific birds and butterflies are discussed along with a location map and interesting facts.

A Place for Butterflies @handbookofnaturestudy

The main message of this series is how we can combat the negative effects some practices and progress can take on the habitat where the birds and butterflies need to live. For instance in A Place for Birds, there are suggestions that people put up decals on their windows so birds don’t fly into them and even provide nesting boxes for birds.

A Place for Butterflies @handbookofnaturestudy

I would love to share both of these books with the young people in my life. From start to finish, I found these books to be a delight and they are now resting on my picture book shelf for any young visitors to my home to enjoy. I can imagine sitting on the sofa with a child alongside me as we page through and enjoy the words and illustrations together.

Additional Information:You can find teacher’s guides for both books on this page of her website: Curriculum Guide for A Place for Birds and A Place for Butterflies.

Note: There is brief reference to the idea of evolution in each book.

 

Nature Book Project 2016 @handbookofnaturestudy

 

Note some of the links below are Amazon.com affiliate links.

January- Discover Nature Close to Home

February-A Place for Birds and A Place for Butterflies

March- A Crow Doesn’t Need A Shadow

April- The Practical Naturalist

May- Break month.

June-Botany in a Day

July- Rockhounding Nevada (postponed)

August- Break month.

September- The 10 Best of Everything National Parks

October- The Nature Handbook

November- Bringing Nature Home (postponed)

December- Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling

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September Newsletter Nature Photo Assigment

Handbook of Nature Study Newsletter September 2015 button
Not too late to subscribe and receive the September 2015 newsletter! The newsletter includes the nature photo assignment ideas that I completed in this post.

As part of the newly designed Handbook of Nature Study September 2015 newsletter suggestions, I have been on the look out for an opportunity to take some photos of a tree and its parts. I have an especially photogenic tree in my front yard and as I was sitting on the wall just taking in its splendor, I happened to notice a perfect monarch butterfly enjoying my butterfly bushes.

Monarch butterfly September 2015 (10) @handbookofnaturestudy

In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary.
 ~ Aaron Rose

This set the mood for a terribly enjoyable photo session as he flew from limb to limb. I also managed to spot a Common buckeye butterfly but failed to get a decent image to share. I am still hoping to see one again and be able to share it with you in a future post.

Well, one to the main subject of the nature photo assignment….my tulip poplar tree. I decided to just let the images speak for themselves so enjoy!

Tulip poplar tree sepember 2015 leaf study newsletter (1)

Tulip poplar tree sepember 2015 leaf study newsletter (3)

Tulip poplar tree sepember 2015 leaf study newsletter (4)

Tulip poplar tree sepember 2015 leaf study newsletter (5)

Tulip poplar tree sepember 2015 leaf study newsletter (6)

Tulip poplar tree sepember 2015 leaf study newsletter (7)

 

Planning a year of nature study using the Handbook of Nature Study and the Outdoor Hour Challenge. Printables and examples for you to view and use.
If you have the September 2015 newsletter, the photo assignment is on the Nature Study Planning Page.

 

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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Swallowtails

Outdoor Hour Challenge Swallowtails @handbookofnaturestudy

Outdoor Hour Challenge

Swallowtails

Inside Preparation Work:

Outdoor Hour Time:

  • Go on an insect hunt! Look for insect eggs, larvae, caterpillars, and mature insects including butterflies.
  • Take some time to watch a butterfly as it works in the garden. Look at the butterfly’s body parts. If you spy a swallowtail, look at the shape of the wings.
  • If you find a caterpillar, watch it eat and observe its horns.

Follow-Up Activity:

  • Create a nature journal entry for the swallowtail butterfly or any butterfly you find this week in the garden. If you don’t find a butterfly, pick one to research and then record your findings on a notebook page included in the ebook.
  • Advanced study: Sketch the chrysalis, caterpillar, and butterfly of the black swallowtail butterfly. There is a notebook page included in the ebook for your sketches.
  • Advanced study: Draw at least two different swallowtail butterflies with colored pencils in your nature journal.

Handbook of Nature Study Ultimate Naturalist Library
Join us for this spring series of challenges every week here on the Handbook of Nature Study.

Spring Nature Study Continues Ebook

If you want to purchase the Spring Nature Study Continues ebook so you can follow along with all the notebooking pages, coloring pages, and subject images, you can join the Ultimate or Journey Membership Levels. See the Join Us page for complete information. Also, you can view the Spring Nature Study Continues – New Ebook announcement page for more details.

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Insects in August – Looking for Crickets

Insects in August- Looking for Crickets (our cricket study)

We have spent lots of time outdoors in the evenings this summer because it is too hot to be out much during the day. We usually start our evening off with dinner on the back deck and then sit later in the evening as the sun sets. We are still experiencing lots of finches flocking to our tree just at dusk…accompanied by lots of singing and chirping.

We also notice the hummingbirds at the feeders as the sun descends lower and lower on the horizon.

The bats come as well and several times I have felt them whisk past my ears while I am on the deck, startling me but they never actually touch me so I am okay with that.

Great Basin grasshopper

We have been on the lookout for insects at all times of the day. We noticed grasshoppers in Utah and Nevada on our trip a few weeks ago.

Swallowtail butterfly

I was able to capture some butterflies at my dad’s house that were in among his flowers. This butterfly had a lot of his wings broken off…didn’t seem to stop him from flying skillfully from flower to flower.

 

Milkweed beetle Utah

My favorite insect of the month so far is this Milkweed beetle that we saw in Utah. Amazing colors and design!

bee lavender butterfly (3)

Here is an interesting bee we saw in our front yard on the lavender.

Listen Here=Capturing Cricket sounds in the Evening -Our video/audio

And then there were crickets in our yard. When I took a video (so I could capture the audio), I realized that there are two distinct sounds. One is definitely a cricket but the other is a buzzing sound. I am thinking it is a cicada of some sort and have done some research on cicadas found in California. There are some so I am now on the hunt to actually see one.

Just remembered that we saw cave crickets when we were at Great Basin National Park in the Lehman Caves, which are pale and have really long antennae. I was so focused on the cave and its awesome formations that I forgot to really pay attention to the crickets or take a photo.

I love it when we take one topic and focus on it for a month….I highly recommend it for more in-depth study of anything topic your children are interested in learning more about.

Here is a pdf for you to use with your children: Buggy Sounds of Summer.

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Nature Walk – Of Butterflies and Labradors

We set out to look for signs of mammals but good intentions were set aside when we spotted some wonderful butterflies along our hiking trail. I reminded myself that the best advice I always give is to follow interest and to be flexible if a nature study topic comes along that you can’t pass up.

We have long past our winter season anyway so last week’s Winter Mammal study not really a perfect fit. We had plenty of winter mammal observations when we saw the signs of beavers at our creek. We see scat all winter long just beside or in the middle of our walking trail. I have stopped sharing scat photos because it seems a little weird. I don’t want to be the “weird nature lady”.

So, our first subject of the day is this Mourning Cloak butterfly. We looked it up when we got home in our insect field guide and online. It seems the host plant for the caterpillars is the Black willow. I am going to check and see if what I remember observing in this area is a willow.I also read in my field guide that the edges can look a little “tattered” and that was the case with this particular butterfly.

We hiked down to the river, which was extremely low from lack of rain and snow melt, and we threw the ball in for our Kona dog. She never tires of retrieving the ball even when the water is cold. The sun was warm though and I sat on a big rock and felt the refreshing air and sunshine.

So how did this violet arrive here below the normal water line, in among
the river rocks? What a surprise to see its pretty purple blossoms!

Taking a break from swimming…love the pink tongue. She is one happy dog.

On the way back up to trail, I was able to capture another butterfly that we saw as we hiked. There were many, many of these flying around the area but managed to get a really good close-up of this one to share. This is a Pipevine Swallowtail. I did some research and found that this butterfly only lays its eggs on the Dutchman’s Pipe plant. I found after digging on the CalFlora website that this particular plant is found in the area we live in but I have never seen it. I am now adding it to my list of plants to look for during our travels.

Can you see his proboscis?

One last image from our hike today. The dog went off the trail and disturbed some leaves…my husband spotted this snake all coiled up underneath. We came home and looked it up on California Herps and it appears to be a Sharp-tailed Snake. It was very small but bright red on top and black underneath. I am not a big fan of snakes but we will keep this one in mind when our spring snake study comes along.

Although we set out to look for signs of mammals and we didn’t find any to note, we feel like we were a success in keeping our eyes open for interesting things to learn about as we hiked.

I hope you get outside this week to look for something to share alongside your children.

 

Nature Study Bundle Button

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November Weather Grid Observations

Have you started your November Weather Grid observations? We have continued to have warm, sunny days – last week with the afternoon temperatures in the 70’s and this week in the 60’s. It is not our typical November weather at all.

 My rain gauge has not had a drop of rain in it all month.

There were only a few clouds to observe this week and we made a point to get out and watch for awhile. I remembered to think of some words to describe them: thin, grey, fast-moving, swirly, like cotton, friendly.

The birds are returning to my feeders a little at a time and I spend some time each day looking out the window at the trees in the backyard for some bird visitors. Mr. B pointed out two Northern Flickers a few days ago…he says, “Hey Mom, there are two really colorful big birds outside my window!”

I found parts of two different butterflies in the yard when we were raking up some leaves. Have you ever tried picking up a butterfly wing? It is so very delicate and when you set it down it blows away in the slightest breeze. Amazing to look at with the magnifying lens.

One day I collected some autumn twigs, branches, and dried flowers from the garden for a “bouquet” that sits on the nature table. Nothing fancy but it makes me happy.

We have still been walking outdoors just about every day, sometimes in our neighborhood and sometimes we take the local walking trail. The trail is dry and covered in fallen leaves…so very dry. I know the rest of November may be cooler and wetter but for now the word to describe our weather is DRY or maybe WARM.

The Kona dog doesn’t mind the weather and takes advantage of the opportunity at our river walks to jump in and swim. The river is low right now so she paddles around or fetches a ball if we have one to throw in for her. The water is too cold for me but for our Labrador it is heaven.

Look for a weather related challenge this week and I look forward to seeing some of your November World observations in the up-coming Outdoor Hour Challenge Blog Carnival.