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The Ultimate List of Birds Homeschool Nature Study Resources Using the Outdoor Hour Challenge

You can enjoy a simple birds homeschool nature study with these resources we have gathered for you to use in your own backyard. It is such a delight to study and learn about these beautiful creatures!

Birds Homeschool Nature Study

This is not required, but it is always good to have some birds homeschool nature study references on hand for your part of the world. Here are some bird resources I have shared about:

Review of Peterson Field Guides for Young Naturalists

Peterson Field Guides for Young Naturalists – What would the world be without birds? Birds are a favorite subject for young children as they spy birds in their yards and at near-by parks. Nurturing a love of birds is easy when you have one or two of Peterson Field Guides for Young Naturalists on hand. These compact field guides are beautifully illustrated and feature many of the birds you can find right outside your own window. They are enjoyable to page through and you will find yourself sharing these books over and over with your family.

It is such a delight to study and learn about these beautiful creatures! You can enjoy a simple birds homeschool nature study with these resources.

Favorite Bird Field Guides and Resources by Tricia – everything from each child choosing a favorite bird to study to bird field guides with bird songs, a window observation feeder and a suet recipe.

John James Audubon quote and bird chalk pastel art lessons.

A Homeschool Bird Study with Chalk Pastels by Erin – A chalk pastels bird study with Nana is a wonderful way to introduce bird art lessons in your homeschool. Chalk pastels are perfect for preschoolers to adults. They are super easy to use with no long art supply list needed. You’ll love adding these vibrant birds to your next homeschool nature study or in preparation for the Great Backyard Bird Count!

The Great Backyard Bird Count Homeschool by Heather – It’s that time of the year when citizen scientists everywhere are gearing up for the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). It’s easy to participate and the bird count is a great way to contribute to actual data being used by ornithologists. You can have a Great Backyard Bird Count Homeschool!

Bird Study Outdoor Hour Challenges in Homeschool Nature Study Membership

All of the birds homeschool nature study resources listed are available as an Outdoor Hour Challenge in our Homeschool Nature Study membership. If you have a membership, you will be able to pull up the Outdoor Hour Challenge curriculum and print any notebook pages, coloring pages, or other printables for your birds nature study.

Birds course Handbook of Nature Study Outdoor Hour Homeschool Curriculum
  • Autumn Bird
  • Winter Bird and Migration – Winter Outdoor Hour curriculum
  • Winter Birds – Winter Wednesday Outdoor Hour curriculum
  • Spring Bird Bird Song –  Spring Outdoor Hour curriculum
  • American Dipper – Bird Set #1 Outdoor Hour curriculum
  • Baltimore Oriole – Summer Nature Study Continues
  • Belted Kingfisher – Autumn Nature Study Continues
  • Catbird – Autumn Outdoor Hour curriculum
  • Chickadee – More Nature Study Winter Outdoor Hour curriculum
  • Chicken – Autumn Outdoor Hour curriculum
  • Clark’s Nutcracker – Bird Set #1
  • Common Raven – Forest Fun Outdoor Hour curriculum
  • Crane- Bird Set #1
  • Egret – Bird Set #1
  • Flicker –Winter Nature Study Continues
  • Goose – Autumn Outdoor Hour curriculum
  • Hawks – Autumn Nature Study Continues Outdoor Hour curriculum
  • Horned Lark – Bird Set #1
  • House Sparrow – More Nature Study Autumn
It is such a delight to study and learn about these beautiful creatures! You can enjoy a simple birds homeschool nature study with these resources.
  • Hummingbirds and Nests – More Nature Study Summer
  • Magpie – Bird Set #1
  • Owl and Owl Pellets – Summer Outdoor Hour curriculum
  • Owl Study and Printable Notebook Page
  • Pelican – Bird Set #1
  • Quail – Forest Fun
  • Robin – More Nature Study Spring
  • Sandhill Crane – Bird Set #1
  • Sapsucker – Autumn
  • Snipe – Bird Set #1
  • Starlings
  • Swallows – Autumn
  • Swan – Bird Set #1
  • Turkey – Autumn
  • Western Tanager – Forest Fun
  • Woodpeckers

This collection of Outdoor Hour Challenges features an incredibly interesting group of birds: pelican, sandhill crane, Clark’s nutcracker, egret, American dipper, horned lark, magpie, swan, and snipe.

Learning all about birds Handbook of Nature Study Outdoor Hour Homeschool Curriculum

This Homeschool Nature Study Course is a collection of the Birds By Color series with custom notebooking pages, clear images, and lots of links and resources for you to use in your bird nature study. You can access this book by purchasing an Ultimate or Journey level membership here on the Handbook of Nature Study website.

 Studying Birds By Color

  • Red Birds – Robins, Cardinals, House Finches
  • Blue Birds – Jays and Bluebirds
  • Yellow Birds – Goldfinches and Meadowlarks
  • Hummingbirds – Flight
  • Brown Birds – House Sparrows, House Wrens, and mourning Doves
  • Black Birds – Crow, Red-Winged Blackbird, Starling, and Cowbird
  • Black and White Birds – Woodpecker, Chickadee, Nuthatch, Towhee
  • Gray Birds – Pigeon and Mockingbird
It is such a delight to study and learn about these beautiful creatures! You can enjoy a simple birds homeschool nature study with these resources.

Follow our Bird Nature Study Pinterest Board!

Even More Misc. Bird Study Ideas

We encourage you to take a closer look at these bird study ideas:

  • Feet
  • Flight
  • Eyes and Ears
  • Beaks
  • Feathers
  • Wing and Tail Shape
  • Starting a Bird Life List
  • 10 Ideas for Keeping a Bird Life List
  • Birding By Ear
  • Bird Study and Nature Table Printable
  • Bird Field Guide Cards Printable

Additional Homeschool Nature Study You May Find Helpful

Join the Homeschool Nature Study Membership for Year Round Support!

Join The Homeschool Nature Study Membership for Year Round Support

Can you believe all of these bird resources you will find in membership? You will also 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 January 2011 and updated by Tricia January 2022

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August Garden Update – Nasturtiums, Veggies, and More

Our attempt at a nasturtium flower study fell short again this year.

Don’t you love nasturtiums? They are such a happy flower and they remind me of my grandma. Her garden seemed to just sprout them in all the corners and I always have thought they were easy to grow and care for.

Nasturtium leaves

I have not had much success in growing my own nasturtiums. I have tried a few times and this year I received nasturtium seeds  (Little Firebirds) from Renee’s Garden. I read the back of the package and it said they would be great in a container so I planted them in a fairly large pot on my back deck.  My seeds quickly sprouted and the leaves that formed were so pretty and lily pad shaped just like the package said. But, over time, the leaves started to turn brown which I thought was from lack of water so I stepped up my watering.


Things grew worse instead of better and now all I have is a pot of crispy leaves, no flowers.

Not sure what happened there…over-watering?

Garden Veggie Collage @handbookofnaturestudy

The rest of the garden is going strong and I am reaping some rewards in the form of zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and basil.

The zucchini is Astia from Renee’s Garden and the seed package says it will grow compact plants and yield an abundance of tender zucchini. I have picked about eight zucchinis so far and I think my dog or some other critter has eaten a few too. I am really liking this variety but I left too many plants in my pot… year one plant per pot.

The tomatoes are Litt’l bites Cherry from Renee’s Garden.  The package says that this plant is perfect from pots and baskets and I can tell you that I have had huge success with this veggie. The problem is that some critter comes at night and eats anything almost ripe. I have put up a cage and netting around it to protect the fruits for us to eat!

The basil is Italian Cameo from Renee’s Garden. I love, love, love this variety and it is easy to pick a bunch really fast. I harvest some every few days and it just fills right back in for the next time.

Baby Belle Peppers from Renees Garden

The peppers are growing every day in our hot summer afternoons.  These are Baby Belle Peppers from Renee’s Garden. They are a mini snack or salad pepper which they say I can pick either green or wait for them to get red before harvesting. I think I will try doing it both ways and see which I like better. I am having success with the plants in a pot on my back deck.

So there is a short update on the garden in pots! I so enjoy getting out there every morning to survey the progress and water, trim, pick, and taste something. I have decided I don’t need a big garden to get that “garden fix” that I need in the summer. Lesson learned!

geranium hummingbird feeder petunia

One last new thing on the deck…a second hummingbird feeder! I placed a new feeder along with some red plants to attract a few more hummers to my yard. They love both the red geranium and the red petunias….great tip for those of you trying to establish a new hummingbird feeder. Use the natural colors to get them interested in visiting your feeder and then they will become regulars.

Summer fills my days with gardening and bird watching….and cloud watching. We are still in our drought here in California and every time there are clouds we hope for rain but so far….nothing!




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Project Feederwatch Continues – More December Birds

I had in mind a totally different post for you this week but our internet has been down for over a week so working online has been limited. Instead, I have a collection of recent bird photos that show some of our feeder birds that we enjoy everyday. As the leaves fall from the trees, observing birds becomes much easier. We also have more of a variety to enjoy this time of year and keeping track of them for Project Feederwatch becomes our normal routine at least two days a week.

The Outdoor Hour Challenges this month focuses on the weather and we have been noting how the weather affects the birds in our yard. We have had ice on the birdbaths quite a few mornings this week and if I don’t go out and break it up, the birds skid around on it which makes me laugh.

House finches can seem common at the feeders…oh, just another finch. But, when you see these colored birds through the eye of a camera, you realize they are not just another bird. They come in varying shades of pink, orange, red, and purple…they come day after day and provide a happy bird song (listen on All About Birds to hear the sweet sounds of a finch).

Our backyard Anna’s hummingbirds are still at the feeders every day. They have a particular tree they sit in and most days it is on the same little branch that hangs over one end of our deck. I can hear them making their little chattering noises whenever I am outside. In this image the feathers look black but it is just the way the light is hitting him. If he tilts his head in just the right way or the sun hits him just right, his chin and throat are the most brilliant pink and his body is a dazzling green. I always thought that hummingbirds were delicate creatures but I have seen them at my feeder in the pouring rain and when we have snow. All About Birds says that they weigh the same as a nickel….imagine that!

The return of the Dark eyed junco is complete for the season. We started having one or two a day under the feeders but now I am counting 12-20 every day. They mostly poke around under the seed feeders to glean some food but I have noticed that they are hanging out at the suet feeder as well. They do give the woodpeckers first chance at the suet but as soon as the woodpecker flies away, they hop on and have a meal.

Our Northern Mockingbirds make daily appearances at the berry vines in our front yard. I read on All About Birds that they switch to an almost all berry diet in the fall and winter. The other fact I learned about the mockingbird is that they don’t sing at this time of the year. The website says that they sing from February to August and then from September to early November. Isn’t that interesting? I am going to record the dates I hear them sing in my neighborhood…a little extra project for me.

The Nuttall’s woodpecker is a frequent diner at the suet feeder. We seem to have a female that is rather shy but I have observed her quite a bit as she hops up and down the trees near the feeder. She shares the feeder many times with the little White-breasted nuthatches.

The excitement this season is that we appear to have a wintering Red-breasted nuthatch who comes daily to the trees outside my window. At first I thought he was my usual White-breasted nuthatch but I read online that the Red-breasted has an eye stripe….sure enough, our nuthatch had an eyestripe. He is super quick and I have yet to capture a clear image but you can see in this one that he definitely has an eyestripe! Hopefully I will get a good image of him for my  nature journal sometime this winter.

Project Feederwatch has helped bring my bird observation skills to the next level. In just a few minutes a day, I have learned so much more about the bird life right outside my window. What a gift this activity gives…hopefully you enjoy seeing my bird friends and are inspired to start learning about your own backyard birds.

Take it one bird at a time and enjoy!

Bird Sleuth button
There is a wealth of birding information on the internet but I have not found a more homeschool-friendly site than the ones sponsored by Cornell University. I would love to encourage you all to subscribe to their homeschool blog (click the logo to pop over there now).

You can also follow them on Facebook .
You can download their FREE Homeschool Guide to Project Feederwatch.
Of course, my favorite resource is their AllAboutBirds website which is a great tool for identifying and learning more about birds in your own neighborhood.

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Summer Bird Study – Hummingbirds

Hummingbird Feeder and Potted Plants
This is our busiest hummingbird feeder. They also like the flowers in the pots.

We love hummingbirds. I think we pay more attention to the hummingbirds in our yard than any other bird. They are constantly at our feeders, in our garden flowers, and flying around…front yard and backyard.

There are at least three in our yard at all times, competing for the feeders and flying fast. They sit in the trees and chirp at us when we eat dinner on the back deck. They are not afraid of us when we are out in the backyard and frequently will fly right up by us as we work in the yard.

They are year round residents.

What aspect did we focus on this time in our hummingbird study as part of the More Nature Study Book #4 Hummingbird Challenge? We started off asking questions about their feathers and how in a certain light they are very green and in then in another light they are bright red. What makes them iridescent? But then we got side-tracked asking why the Anna’s hummingbird chases the Black Headed Grosbeaks out of the seed feeders. I mean they are aggressively chasing them far out of the yard. Our field guide says they defend a 1/4 acre territory. We haven’t found the concrete answer to our questions yet but we have some guesses.

Also, we were fascinated this week by one hummingbird in particular. We call him “Flutter”. He has a unusual sound to his flying. Most of the birds have the familiar “hum” to their wings and the Anna’s Hummingbird make a clicking sound as well. But Flutter sounds like he has a bum wing…like it is not beating like the other birds. It sounds like a fluttering instead of a humming, if that makes sense. We have yet to catch him with the camera because our thought is that if we can take a photo and take a look at his wing shape, maybe he has some sort of injury.

One last thing to relate about our hummingbirds this week. I was out in the yard using the hose to water a few of the bushes since it has been extremely hot and dry. I had the hose in a fine sort of mist and in the shape of an arc. Well, a hummingbird decided that it was the perfect place to fly in and out as he took a bath! It was amazing to watch and I am hoping I get to see it again some day. Our hummingbirds are quite comfortable with us right now and they will fly right up behind you and visit the feeder even if you are inches from them.

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Gardening for Birds – Expect to Be Dazzled By Who Comes to Visit

Finch in the Sunflowers

Our garden and our bird list is very interconnected. The birds are coming and enjoying a variety of things in our garden habitat. I learned from Angie at Petra School that it takes about twenty minutes before the birds forget that you are watching. I have tried to find a spot to sit or stand in the garden and just wait to see who will come back during that twenty minute’s time.

The results?

I can confirm that she is right on! Usually after a few minutes the jays come back and the nuthatch and the grosbeaks come fairly quickly too. But some of the birds take a good long time before they reveal their hiding places in the trees and in the shelter of the bushes we have at the edges of our yard.

It is worth the wait. I decided that this week’s garden/bird entry would be a photo essay with lots of colorful images and very few words. Enjoy!

July 12 Garden and birdbath
Day lilies and our back birdbath

The birdbaths are a frequent stopover for the neighborhood birds.

July 12 Garden and birds (3)
Our little wild patch of blackberries just behind the birdfeeding station.

The blackberry bushes are a perfect shelter for birds to rest and to wait their turn at the feeder.

July 12 Garden and birds (9)
The leaves on our sunflowers are being eating by nibbling finches.

The sunflowers and birch trees are attracting the Lesser Goldfinches…who are eating the leaves and seeds.

The Black-headed Grosbeaks and the Western Scrub Jays are in and out of the feeders all day long.This is the best image I could get this week…they are fast in and out of the feeder. They have a sweet little song as well.The Mourning Doves and California Towhees are pecking around under the feeders.The White-breasted Nuthatches, House Finches, Titmouses, and House Sparrows are always found in the seed feeders.The European Starlings and Robins are busy eating the fruits from the neighbor’s tree that hangs over the fence into our yard.The birds are making a huge mess by taking the fruits all over the yard and eating them. They leave the pits behind and they are covering our driveway. This starling will leave the pit in our neighbor’s grass and next year it may start to grow into a tree. I know this from experience.

Hummingbird in the Butterfly gardenThe Anna’s Hummingbirds are everywhere. They still come to the feeders but they also are in the trumpet vine, the roses, the bee balm, the butterfly bushes, and several of my potted plants.The neighborhood Great Horned Owl is heard once it is dark and still outside. I envision him hunting the rodents that get into my birdfeeders.The mockingbird sings all the time…almost round the clock.

Additional bird notes:
We have heard the Steller’s Jay and their “shook-shook-shook” several times in our neighborhood but we have yet to see one. This would be a new to our neighborhood bird.
We have heard the Nuttall’s Woodpecker lots of time but only once in our back tree. I need to remember to fill the suet feeder.
The Starlings come everyday now which is new for this year as well. Their buzzing sound is now a familiar backyard bird sound.
The Black-headed Grosbeaks are also a new every day bird. Their flash of color at the feeders is beautiful.

Jami’s Tuesday Garden Party meme is open from Tuesday to Thursday so there is still time for you to jump in and participate!You may be interested in reading my entry, If You Build It, They Will Come, entry that shows the butterflies that are frequently found in our yard.What are you doing to make your yard attractive to birds and butterflies?

Sage Lavender Butterfly Bush
Sage, Lavender, and Butterfly Bushes
Fruits for the Birds
Not sure what kind of tree this is but it sure is messy…the birds love it though.
Starling Eating Fruits
Starling in our neighbor’s yard with a fruit from the tree.

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Handbook of Nature Study – December Bird List with Two New Birds!

December Bird List – 
Our Family’s On-Going Record of Our Bird Sighting 
A Life Project

We have had a busy and full month watching birds in our yard and as part of our December travels. Project Feederwatch has become a natural part of our weekly routine and helps us take a few minutes two days a week to count birds that come to our feeders. First a few interesting photos and then this month’s bird list!

White Breasted Nuthatch 3

First off, our sweet and fabulous White-breasted nuthatch resident…or at least one of the three that entertain us everyday with their acrobatics on our backyard tree trunks. Ups and downs and lots of pecking are observed as we watch out the window. They also have a very distinct bird sound that they make and we are alerted to look up when we are outside and they are present. If you click the link above and click the Pacific song, you will hear what our nuthatch sounds like (there is an Eastern song as well).

White Breasted Nuthatch 2
I had to zoom this one in and crop it to show you this cute little guy and his expression.

California Towhee and House Sparrow in the Feeder

Our beloved California Towhee in the feeder….usually he scratches around under the feeder but today he showed up for pictures. Isn’t he interesting with his pink-orange rump and pink-orange around the eye? There is always a pair in the yard and they don’t ever stray very far from each other. We learned that the colored patch under the tail is called the “crissum”.

California Towhee - Tail View

Here is the other half of the pair….up on the branch, waiting for a turn in the feeder. (Males and females look alike.)

Spotted Towhee with seed

Since we started participating in Project Feederwatch, we have seen three of these Spotted Towhees in the yard. They are strikingly beautiful birds and since they are not year-round residents we try to enjoy them while they are here.

I love the way this bird friend is clinging to the twig and posing. You can see the dried up blackberries on the vine that we left from the summer garden. The birds are seen frequently stopping by for a purple snack.

Western Bluebird
The Western bluebird enjoys a little bath this time in our front yard. I still get excited when he comes to visit. They usually come in a small bunch and then leave all at the same time. Lovely.

Anna's Hummingbird
Here is the very best shot of the Anna’s Hummingbird at our feeder that I could capture to share. The flash accidentally went off but that really shows his beautiful ruby/pink/iridescent color. We have one or two at a time in the feeder these days, usually a male and a female. There might be more than two since the feeder is emptied frequently even at this time of the year.

In Our Yard – mostly at the feeders

  1. Spotted towhee
  2. Dark-eyed junco
  3. House sparrow
  4. White-crowned sparrow
  5. Mourning dove
  6. Western bluebird
  7. Mockingbird
  8. Western scrub jay
  9. American robin
  10. White-breasted nuthatch
  11. California towhee
  12. House finches
  13. Lesser goldfinches
  14. Anna’s hummingbird
  15. Oak titmouse
  16. Ruby-crowned kinglet
  17. Acorn woodpecker

Out and About:

  1. American crow
  2. Northern flicker
  3. California quail
  4. Steller’s jay
  5. Wild turkeys
  6. Brewer’s blackbird
  7. Pigeons
  8. White-tailed kite ***New to our life list
  9. Red-tail hawk
  10. Barn swallow
  11. Bewick’s wren ***New to our life list
  12. Downy woodpecker – hanging on a tall weed (more on that later)

Bird Sleuth button
There is a wealth of birding information on the internet but I have not found a more homeschool-friendly site than the ones sponsored by Cornell University. I would love to encourage you all to subscribe to their homeschool blog (click the logo above to pop over there now).

You can also follow them on Facebook .
You can download their FREE Homeschool Guide to Project Feederwatch.
Of course, my favorite resource is their AllAboutBirds website which is a great tool for identifying and learning more about birds in your own neighborhood.

I would love for other families to join ours in watching your feeder birds. It is super easy and you just need to devote a few minutes a week to getting to know your feeder birds one bird at a time. Email me with any questions you have about the program.

So which bird photo did you like the most? I think I like the California towhee in the feeder the best since it is one that I have been trying to snap for awhile now.

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Our Nature Study Week – The Familiar and the Surprising

Want to know what I love about walking a familiar trail? I love knowing where things grow, the landmarks to notice, the way you can tell that something is different. Usually this is the changing of the season, seeing the plants grow, blossom, and then die down in the fall. Sometimes it is a man-made change and it is shocking!

Walking Trail Renovation-No More Thistles

This is where our star thistles, Queen Anne’s lace, and sweet peas grow in mass every spring and summer. We haven’t been on this section of the trail in a few months and were were surprised to see that they had cleared it off, inserted a culvert and pipe, and then recovered it with this material. We are wondering what they reseeded it with. I can guarantee it is not star thistle, Queen Anne’s Lace, and sweet peas.

I dug up a photo from a previous season.

Field of Queen Anne's Lace

Our family used this spot as a landmark. I could say to the boys as they ran on ahead, “Stop at the thistle spot.” Now we shall have to see what grows and make a new landmark. I know I will miss my Queen Anne’s lace.

Anna's Hummingbird in the feeder

Another change we see is in our bird feeder attendees. This year we are seeing Anna’s hummingbirds everyday in our feeder. They are coming and going all day long. Several of you have noted the hummingbirds on my monthly bird list. This species (Calypte anna) is an iridescent green and gray below…the male has an iridescent red head and throat. If you catch a glimpse of them in the sunshine, you are amazed at their dazzling color. They stay all winter even in the sub-freezing temperatures. I go out to check their feeder each day to make sure it isn’t frozen.

Moonshadow Yarrow

We took a walk around our yard last week as part of the Preparation for Winter-Plants challenge. This challenge had us looking for ways that plants get ready to survive the cold winter temperatures. We noticed that several of our plants are putting out a new bloom. This Moonshine yarrow is very pretty..especially up close.

Roses in December

One plant that is surprising us is our yellow rose. It is still blooming…not the prettiest of blooms but still treating us to some rose-goodness for the kitchen table. For all you Redwall readers out there, we have named this the Winter of the Rose.

Quart and Magnifying Glass

As part of my research and preparation for the new More Nature Study #2 ebook, we are having fun studying rocks up close with our magnifying lens. I set up a spot on our nature table with some interesting rocks and I noticed that just about everyone has stopped by to take a peek. (Quartz will be a topic in the new ebook.)We have lots of examples of quartz in our rock collection so pulling them out and putting them in one place has brought them back out of the shoeboxes and into the spotlight.

We are headed into another week of dry sunny days so we will be outdoors walking quite a bit. I know at some point the rain and snow will come but for now we are breathing deep the warm (50’s) afternoons together. Hope you get the chance to be outdoors this week.

More Nature Study #2 button
Scheduled Publish Date: 12/28/11

By popular demand, here is the link to the SE Folding Magnifier, Glass Lens 2 1/2″ Dia., Power 5X
we have in the photo above.

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Tweet and See – Delighted With Our May Bird List

5 26 11 Hummingbird in Feeder
We can stand inches from the feeders and the hummingbirds still come to eat.

May 2011- This list is testimony that keeping a list makes you more aware of the birds as you go about your everyday business. I started off the month thinking that our feeders were empty and that most of our resident birds were gone. But….when I slowed down, wrote down each bird that I saw each day, the list is full and rich and even includes a new bird to our life list. I love the mental exercise of keeping track of the birds we see and it makes me more aware of each winged creature that we saw during the month.

We are leaning towards studying our backyard hummingbirds for our June bird since they are such a willing subject. You can join us with a hummingbird study by clicking over to the Outdoor Hour Challenge for Hummingbirds and Flight.

Hummer in tree (3)

Tweet and See button

From Our Backyard

  1. Western scrub jay
  2. White-crowned sparrows
  3. Anna’s hummingbird-Resident hummers are all over the place right now!
  4. Common raven
  5. Black-headed Grosbeak* Our new bird that we first observed on the trail and then at our very own feeders!
  6. Red-tail hawk
  7. Turkey vultures
  8. Mourning doves
  9. Great horned owl *Mr. A was up early one morning outside and he called me out to listen to two owls
  10. House finches – Sweet singers in our yard
  11. White-breasted nuthatch
  12. California quail-A pair in our backyard…not usually seen so close to home. Lots as we drive around town.
  13. American crow
  14. Canada goose
  15. Acorn woodpecker- swings from the suet feeder like an acrobat
  16. Lesser goldfinches – so brilliant and yellow right now… the feeders and the birdbath
  17. House sparrows
  18. Oak titmouse
  19. California towhee
  20. Starlings
  21. American robin – another bird bath participant

Hummer in tree (2)
Out and About

  1. Brewer’s blackbird
  2. Tree swallows
  3. Wild turkeys – whole flocks
  4. Spotted towhee
  5. Red-wing blackbird
  6. Mallard ducks
  7. White Goose….not sure what the name is yet.
  8. Rock pigeons
  9. Emu – sort of a crazy bird to add but we did see several, obviously not native….neighbor has a few

You can share your link with Tweet and See…click the button above to learn more about the monthly meme.

Hummer in the Feeder Flying

Hummer in the Feeder Still

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Garden Flowers: Geraniums are the Perfect Beginner’s Flower Study

Up until now, I have not appreciated the geranium. I usually don’t pick geraniums for my garden but after reading that hummingbirds were attracted to red flowers I decided to give them a try. I picked the reddest variety I could find at Home Depot, brought it home, and potted it right under my hummingbird feeder.

When we were deciding on a garden flower to study this month as part of the suggestions in the Outdoor Hour Challenge May Newsletter, I skimmed the list of garden flowers in the Handbook of Nature Study. One flower we have not observed closely and added to our nature journal is the geranium. I turned over to the pages to read about this common flower and I was dazzled by all that we could learn by taking a few minutes to follow the suggested lesson activities. (Lesson 163 in the Handbook of Nature Study)

5 14 11 Geranium Leaf
1. We observed the leaves, touching them and enjoying the fuzzy texture. Mr. B said that they were thick and stiff and I would agree with that. What a great shape the leaves are and I decided right away that was going to be the focus of my nature journal entry.

5 14 11 Geranium In a Pot Red
2. We looked at the petals as suggested in the lesson, noticing that all the five petals are not the same shape and size. Anna Botsford Comstock says that this flower is the perfect beginners flower since you can observe and name all the parts easily.

“The geranium’s blossom is so simple that it is of special value as a subject for a beginning lesson in teaching the parts of a flower; and its leaves and stems may likewise be used for the first lessons in plant structure.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 585

5 14 11 Geranium Stem Buds and Flowers
3. We read about the nectar tube and took a closer look at it after reading how the structure works.

“No other flower shows a prettier plan for guiding insects to the hidden sweets, and in none is there a more obvious and easily seen well of nectar. It extends almost the whole length of the flower stalk…”
Handbook of Nature Study page 586

This lesson was only a few minutes long on a sunny morning out on our back deck but what a lot of information we now have about this common garden plant. I love learning more about my own backyard.

Geranium Notebook Page and Coloring Page
We used the geranium notebook pages from’s Wildflowers, Weeds, and Garden Flowers set….use my discount code (discount5) and get them for $7.95. If you own a Treasury Membership, you already have access to eight different designs for each of the wildflowers, weeds, and flowers included in this set (over 45 plants). Each person can pick a different design for their nature journal entry. I used the coloring page and the lined page with boxes for sketching and a photo. I was thinking that the coloring page is something you could make yourself using the Fill In The Circle idea from the May Newsletter.

Here are a few more photos of flowers on the back deck.

Can you tell I am going for lots of color this year?

5 14 11 Lantana in a Pot
Lantana for the bees and butterflies.

5 14 11 Petunias Pink
Petunias (Lesson 162 in the Handbook of Nature Study)

5 14 11 Pansies and Alyssum
Pansies (Lesson 152 in the Handbook of Nature Study)

5 14 11 Gerbera Daisies Orange
Gerbera daisies

You can grow a lot of different flowers in pots even if you only have a small space. I encourage you to give it a try and then complete some of the garden flower challenges listed on the right sidebar of my blog (OHC #12 through #19) Keep your study simple by choosing just a few of the ideas in each lesson, building on what you already know.

I hope you are taking advantage of the warmer, drier May weather to get out into your own backyard. I look forward to seeing your nature study adventures as you submit them to the Outdoor Hour Challenge Blog Carnival. Don’t forget to include some of the nature journal ideas from the May Newsletter: Fill In The Circles, add some poetry, and use the Know Your Own Backyard notebook page.

You can submit your blog entries for May HERE.

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Garden Focus: Bees, Birds, and Color….with Veggies Too

Hummingbird Feeder and Potted Plants
Flowers in Pots Attract the Bees and Hummingbirds…Easy to Maintain

My goals this year for our garden are a little different than those in the recent past. I usually focus on growing veggies and accent with flowers. This year I am going to be a rebel and do the exact opposite. I am growing color and accenting with edibles. I am hoping for more of an “artist’s garden” this year, providing a space to sit with watercolors and colored pencils and oil pastels on those long hot summer afternoons. Sometimes a garden is more than just for growing food, healing and refreshing us with its beauty and vitality. Of course, you can really call it a “bee garden” since the focus has been on flowers that will attract bees, birds, and/or butterflies.

Our deck usually has some herbs and a few veggies in pots, keeping them close for the dinner time crunch. It is a great plan and I will do the same this year with two tomatoes and some basil.

5 7 11 Hummingbirds (2)
We have had a lot of hummingbird traffic at our two feeders as well as the colorful flowers.

I am keeping just a few flowers on the deck and most of them will be to try to entice the hummingbirds up to the feeders. Red geraniums, bright daisies, and a hummingbird favorite lantana or two. I started my zinnia seeds and much to my surprise I found a pot full of milkweed growing already over in the corner. Seeds and seedlings are all tucked in ready to go. We are planning on studying our geraniums along with the Handbook of Nature Study (Lesson #163) this summer.

Back in the main veggie garden I am going to be growing pole beans…Kentucky Wonders. I am dreaming of the green towers of vines and the never-ending picking that will come as the summer progresses.

Bee Balm
Lots and lots of Bee Balm growing in the butterfly garden.

What will be missing are many of the water thirsty plants that I usually have that yield very little in proportion to the effort like bell peppers.I have lots of great plants that are well established that will give color without a lot of work.

Flower Box - Coneflowers Daisies
These are coneflowers, chrysanthemums, and daisies from last year. I will fill in the empty spots with seeds.

The boxes this year are filled in with coneflowers and zinnias, dahlias and daisies. The bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds are going to be having a party all summer long out there. I love having a cutting garden to fill oodles of vases indoors.

New Garden - WIP
We ended up transplanting a few daylilies to the front of the box and the rest is waiting for me to come finish planting the sunflower seeds. Thunderstorm rolled in this day and I had to give up.

My new garden space is coming together and the seeds are almost all in the ground. We had a composting problem and somehow a load was dumped in the garden space with un-composted rotten potatoes so we are sifting through again to get those out before planting the Three Sisters Garden (pumpkins, corn, and beans). The pumpkins, corn, and sunflowers will also be part of our summer nature study using the Handbook of Nature Study.

Garden 5 6 11 Zucchini
Happy Squash.

I have four zucchini seedlings happily growing in their new spot and the sunflowers are all showing signs of sprouting as the garden comes alive.

Garden Front Yard 5 6 11 (20)
Looks a little different than the last time…now the lavender is the predominant plant, along with the blooming dogwood.

I am hoping that I don’t regret our decision to shift our garden focus this year but as with anything we can always change things back next year. We have a wonderful Farmer’s Market in our town where we can put our hands on any veggies we decide we need. Still eating healthy and with local produce….an important goal in our family.

That is this week’s garden update… week hopefully I will share our Three Sisters Garden.

Jami’s Tuesday Garden Party meme is open from Tuesday to Thursday so there is still time for you to jump in and participate!