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Outdoor Mom’s Journal – January 2017

Outdoor Moms Journal January 2017 @handbookofnaturestudy


My February entry is a little early this month because I am anticipating a week with my daughter where we will be going unplugged for the most part. I will share my early February activities and thoughts in the hope that it will inspire you to get out and have your own Outdoor Mom time. Don’t miss the prompts at the bottom of the post for some ideas to get you started if you want to write up your own journal or share something in a comment here at the end of this entry.


american river rain day hike

  • During our outdoor time this month we went….

We have made time for only one formal hike because of the weather. It has been all over the place as far as rain, snow, ice, and wind. What a ride! My husband takes a daily hike and he invited me to accompany him early one morning last week during the middle of our wettest week in a very long time. We actually had over 17 inches of rain in less than a week. He loaned me some rain gear and it kept me dry as we hiked down a familiar trail to the river. It is usually a loop trail but on this day about a third of the trail was under almost flood stage water. The power of water always impresses me and this day was no different. The photo above shows my husband on the trail’s end. I captured the event in my nature journal.

Rainy Day Hike American River and Lichen

  • The most inspiring thing we experienced was…

We had one snow even where we received about an inch and a half overnight. The snow stuck around all morning and it happened to be a Project Feederwatch day so I was periodically looking out at our feeders.

Sharp shinned Hawk

About 9 AM I noticed a small hawk resting on the block wall to the side of our feeder area. He had his back to us so I tried to use the binoculars to spy his features. I didn’t want to spook him so I stayed fairly still as I observed. I was able to snap a few images that helped me identify him as a sharp-shinned hawk. It was an awesome sight and very rare to see a hawk in our yard.

Nature Journal Pages Winter January

  • I added nature journal pages about….

In living up to my goal to create a nature journal page each week, I have been working diligently on my journal.

>>>Winter Backyard Study (from the January 2017 newsletter), Nature Goals 2017 – made an official record of my goals, focused mainly on my journal, Sharp-shinned Hawk sighting, Rain Day at the American River<<<<

  • I am dreaming about…

An up-coming trip where I will put my feet in warm sand.

Downy woodpecker

  • A photo I would like to share…

We have had a downy woodpecker visit our suet feeder just about every day this week. He is a welcome visitor!

Outdoor Mom’s Journal

Whether your family spends a few minutes a week outside or hours at a time, share what is going on in your world.

How Do You Join?

Answer all or just one of the prompts in a blog entry on your own blog or right here on my blog in a comment. If you answer on your blog, make sure to leave me a link in a comment so that I can pop over and read your responses.

  • During our outdoor time this week we went….
  • The most inspiring thing we experienced was…
  • Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)…
  • In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting….
  • I added nature journal pages about….
  • I am reading…
  • I am dreaming about…
  • A photo I would like to share…


Outdoor Hour Challenge Plans for Sept 16 to March 17 @handbookofnaturestudy

You can use the free monthly newsletter along with the Handbook of Nature Study book for your nature study. Adding a membership gives you access to the Ultimate Naturalist Library’s ebooks and printables which provides members with even more in-depth studies each month.

Read more about it!

Instagram OutdoorHourChallenge small

Look for me on Instagram if you want to follow my outdoor experiences in photos. Use the hashtag #outdoorhourchallenge or #OHCnaturejournal and I will stop by and see what you are up to on your Instagram account.


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Autumn Bird List


We have been on the lookout for hawks or any birds that might come our way to study as part of our Outdoor Hour Challenge – Hawks assignment.

Monterey 17 Mile Drive (12)

We had the opportunity to travel to Monterey, California last week for a wedding. While we were there we drove the 17 Mile Drive from Pebble Beach along the coast. This is a fantastic drive and winds through cypress groves, along the Pacific Ocean, and allows for many scenic stops at beaches and rocky outcroppings. The image above is the Lone Cypress stop along the drive.

At one stop, we heard and observed a Red-tailed hawk!

Monterey Hawk (4)

We were able to get a really good look at his silhouette and identify him both by his shape and his call. Perfect timing!

This is a month of changing birds at the birdfeeder.

My October Bird List (in our yard)

  1. Anna’s hummingbird
  2. American goldfinch
  3. Western scrub jay
  4. Dark-eyed Junco (returned to our yard 10/13/14)
  5. White-crowned sparrow (returned to our yard 10/13/14)
  6. Mourning doves
  7. Flicker (heard and not seen)
  8. Great horned owl (heard and not seen)
  9. Northern mockingbird (singing his heart out every day from the top of a tree)
  10. Edit to add: Titmouse 10/21/14
  11. Edit to add: Nuttall’s woodpecker on 10/21/14
  12. Edit to add: Spotted towhee on 10/18/14
  13. Edit to add: House sparrows on 10/22/14


Now that the season is finally changing around here we will see more visitors to our birdfeeders. Coming up fast, Project Feederwatch will be here before we know it!

 What birds did you see this week?


Birds of North America Notebooking PagesBirds of the World Notebooking PagesBirds - Basic Study Pages

These are affiliate links to products I have used and love.

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Backyard Birds – Hawks and Their Calls

Bird watching year after year, you begin to have favorite birds that visit your feeders. You know the comings and goings of the common feeder birds as they stop by to eat each day; sparrows early in the day, scrub jays perched on top, the titmouse speeding in and out.

But sometimes you have birds that bless you with a rare visit…not even to the feeder but still close to your yard and within binocular range of your front window. We have had several hawk visitors over the years that we have observed in this way. This week there was a bird on the telephone wire across the street from our house. I spotted it from the window and then grabbed my binoculars. I grabbed my “big” camera with the really good zoom lens and stepped outside and across the street to see if I could capture him in an image.

It was as if he was posing for me. The look on his face was cautiously curious. I snapped away and here are a couple of frames that really give you a feel for this beautiful hawk.

I think he is a Red-shouldered hawk, both from the description in my field guide, looking at AllAboutBirds, and listening to him as he later soared up in the sky.

Isn’t this a magnificent bird? Look at all those colorful feathers and the patterns are amazing. All hawks are beauties but this one is especially beautiful…I am in awe.

Here is what says about the call of the Red-shouldered hawk:

“A Red-shouldered Hawk’s most common call is a plaintive, rising whistle that sounds like kee-ahh. The call tends to be repeated 5–12 times, with each note lasting about half a second. Hawks use it to claim their territory and when alarmed.”

So now that I can listen for the two syllable call (kee-aah) of the Red-shouldered hawk, I will easily be able to identify it when I hear it while on hikes. There are several other hawks I hear from time to time and they are much different:
Sharp-shinned hawk – which says kik-kik-kik.
Red-tailed hawk – which says keee-eeeek-aar (like a scream)
Cooper’s hawk – which says cak-cak-cak-cak-cak

Do you have hawks in your neighborhood? Can you identify them by their call?

According to the Cornell website, many hawks are now stalking backyard birdfeeders and finding a meal of smaller birds to be much easier than hunting in the wild. I thought that was interesting.

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Tweet and See – March Birds and Free Bird Notebooking Pages

3 14 11 Hawk (5)

We had a pretty exciting month as far as the number of different varieties of birds to report for the month of March 2011.

The most outstanding find was our new hawk visitor that comes quite a few times a week now to both the backyard and the front yard. He visits the trees and sits there for periods of time before swooping down to actually chase some of our feeder birds away. He isn’t very large and we think we have identified him as a Red shouldered hawk or a Coopers Hawk. He is featured in the photo above. He was sitting in the tree in the early morning sun and was flaring his feathers out as he looked at me watching him. Thanks for the photo Mr. Hawk!

Tweet and See button
March 2011 Birds – 31 

Birds seen at our feeder or in our yard:
American crow
Red shouldered hawk
Turkey vultures
Western scrub jays
Common raven
European starlings
Oak titmouse
Cedar waxwings
Canada geese
Mourning doves
Norther flicker
Dark-eyed juncos
White-crowned sparrows
White-breasted nuthatches
Acorn woodpecker
Nuttall’s woodpecker
Spotted towhee
California towhee
House finches
House sparrows
Lesser goldfinches
American robins

These were seen outside our yard:
Anna’s hummingbird
Rock doves
Snowy egret
Brewer’s blackbirds
Steller’s jay
California gull
Mallard ducks
Red-wing blackbirds
Red-tail hawk

You can find free bird related notebooking pages at the following links: – Free Pages (scroll down)

Bird Notebook Pages for Copywork and Narrations

Free Backyard Birds Lapbook

Audubon Notebook Pages on Jimmie’s Collage

Feeder Birds Coloring Book from Cornell


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Bird Stories for the Week: Hummingbird, Hawk in the Feeder, Raven, and Doves

Spring is a time for the birds. They seem to be everywhere and always making beautiful songs or calls to get each other’s attention. We have been keen to look out for new birds but the birds that came along this week were totally unexpected.

3 11 11 walking trail hummingbird

First, there was this Anna’s Hummingbird along our walking trail….he was giving his little squeaky sound which caught our attention. (If you click the link, there is a button to listen to what he sounds like.) I’m surprised that we were able to snap a good image of him before he sped off up the hill. I love that it is getting closer to hummingbird time in our yard….time to clean up the old feeder and get it hung on its hook.

3 10 11 Raven

Here is another bird that we heard before we saw him in our front yard. This Common Raven was up atop the utility pole across the street making a terrible racket. HERE is what he sounds like. There is a distinct difference between the sound of a crow and that of a raven. We have never had a raven here before at the house but I have seen them just up the road a bit so perhaps he was just passing through. (Sorry for the blurry photo but he didn’t let me get ready before he flew away.)

Mourning Doves on the Wall

The mourning doves have made themselves a common visitor to the frontyard feeder. They show up in a pair and strut around under the feeder to clean up after the sparrows who spill seed. The doves took a break on the new retaining wall, perhaps they felt at home with the metal quail sculptures there along the edge. It was worthy of a photo.

Mourning Dove 1

Here is a close up of one of the doves in my front yard under the feeding station. They are typically found scratching around the base looking for a little nibble. The sound they make as they fly away is like a whirring, you can hear it on the Cornell page.  (Scroll down and listen to the “wing whistle” clip.)

Swainsons Hawk

This one is hard to see but it is a Swainson’s hawk that is tormenting the birds in my yard. It has been here every day and is getting bolder and bolder. Mr. A saw him swoop down and get a sparrow and fly away. I have seen him making a move to the birds in the feeder and he actually perched on top of the feeding station one time. Today he landed on the ground near the feeder and looked right at me. Although I really think he is a beautiful, fascinating creature….I wish he would eat his lunch somewhere else.

“Their eyes are remarkably keen; they can see a moving creature from a great height, and can suddenly drop upon it like a thunderbolt out of a clear sky. Their wonderful eyes are far-sighted when they are circling in the sky, but as they drop, the focus of the eyes changes automatically with great rapidity, so that by the time they reach the earth they are nearsighted, a feat quite impoissible for our eyes unless aided by glassses or telescope.” Handbook of Nature Study, page 108 (section on hawks)

We had robins and cedar waxwings pass through again which is always interesting. There was also a honking V of Canada Geese that flew overhead this morning.  So ends our bird week in review….

What have you seen this week? Leave me a comment with your most interesting bird observation this week. I love to learn about new birds.