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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Goldfinches and Meadowlarks


Outdoor Hour Challenge

 Yellow Birds – Goldfinches and Meadowlarks

From the Archives and from the Learning About Birds ebook

Use the links above to find out more information for the birds included in this Outdoor Hour Challenge. You’ll find links to listen to each of these bird’s beautiful songs and I highly recommend that you listen to each one carefully for future reference. Also, there’s a link to a free bird coloring book that many families have found helpful in their bird nature study as a follow up to viewing each bird.

In our area, we have several kinds of finches to observe as the season warms up, so we’ll be learning about finches in preparation of their arrival at our feeders.

goldfinch in feeder

Do you have American goldfinches, Lesser goldfinches or both in your feeders?




Learning About Birds 3D cover

This yellow bird challenge is from the Learning About Birds ebook here on the Handbook of Nature Study. It’s found in the Ultimate and Journey level memberships for you to download and use with your family. If you would like to gain access to this ebook, you can purchase a membership now and have instant access.

Ultimate Naturalist Library September 2017 @handbookofnaturestudy

Use the discount code BIRDLOVER5 for $5 off an Ultimate Naturalist Membership.

Practical Homeschool Reader Award 2018 border

The Outdoor Hour Challenge tied for second place in the Elementary Science category in the Practical Homeschooling Reader Awards!

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August Birds – Summer Birds and a Nest!

Tweet and See button
Our August 2011 List

House Finches
Lesser Goldfinches- in the sunflowers and birch trees
White-Breasted Nuthatch
Oak Titmouse
Mourning Doves
California Towhee
American Robins
Steller’s Jay
Western Scrub Jay
Acorn Woodpecker
Great Horned Owl
Anna’s Hummingbird
House Sparrows
Canada Goose
American Crow
Turkey Vultures
Red-tail Hawk
Black-headed Grosbeak
California Quail
American Ravens – what huge birds with big pointy beaks!
Mallard ducks at the lake
Osprey – heard it but did not see it (Yosemite)
Snowy egret – out and about

Our list is pretty much the same as it was last month…summer birds. I am guessing that this month we will begin to see a change in the birds we have visiting our feeders. I think this is the most interesting aspect of keeping a monthly list…it brings into focus the cycle of birds and they rhythm of the seasons.

Now our exciting bird story!

Lesser Goldfinch Nest

We were able to observe a Lesser goldfinch sitting on a nest in the bushes at my dad’s house. Mama was sitting on the eggs but when I came a little too close with the camera she flew away to a near-by branch. My dad says that there were two little birds that hatched. He has a whole flock of goldfinches in his garden so it doesn’t surprise me that he had a nest this year.

Don’t forget to pop over and share your list with Heather’s Tweet and See!

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Our June Bird Study: Lesser Goldfinches Eat My Sunflowers

6 27 11 Sunflower Leaves - Eaten by Finches
Sunflowers in our garden (self-seeded). Tasty snack for the goldfinches.

We have a beautiful songbird in our backyard that sings to us as we garden. He often is seen in our finch feeder but he also has another part of his diet that is interesting. The Lesser goldfinch eats our sunflower’s leaves! They must be so very light because they can land on the leaves and they hardly dip under the weight. They nibble the green parts of the leaves and leave holes and skeleton leaves on the plants.

I found this video on that shows what we observed in our garden.

5 11 11 Garden birds Goldfinch in the Birdbath
I caught this Lesser goldfinch in our birdbath….bathing and singing.

There is a lesson in the Handbook of Nature Study (Lesson 10) and a previous Outdoor Hour Challenge (Yellow Birds) for the goldfinch which includes this link: Get Gorgeous Goldfinches! The article gives you tips for attracting and then feeding your own goldfinches. If you would like to hear the goldfinches song, you can listen at

Goldfinch Notebook Page
We used a photo and the notebook page from the June Newsletter.

We read on that the Lesser goldfinch sometimes makes its nest in among grapevines to shade the nest from the sun. We think our finches are nesting in our grapevines that are near our back birdfeeder. I never thought to look there.

We love these little birds and even though they cause a little mischief in the sunflower patch, we hope they stick around for awhile.

This is the last of our June Newsletter Challenges. We were able to complete all four this time.
Here are links to the other three:
Garden Critter: Honeybee
Tree: Sitka Spruce
Crop Plant: Corn

Tweet and See button

Now for our Tweet and See list for June 2011
Backyard and Neighborhood:

  1. Turkey vultures
  2. Steller’s jay
  3. Oak titmouse
  4. Lesser goldfinch
  5. Anna’s hummingbirds
  6. California quail
  7. Western scrub jays
  8. Mourning doves
  9. Acorn woodpecker
  10. Common raven
  11. Wild turkeys
  12. Cooper’s hawk
  13. White-breasted nuthatch
  14. California towhee
  15. Spotted towhee
  16. House finches
  17. American crows

Tidepool morning and Crows
Trip to Oregon-There were more birds that I didn’t know so I can’t list:

  1. Osprey
  2. Brown pelican
  3. Song sparrow
  4. American crows
  5. Turkey vultures
  6. American robins
  7. White-crowned sparrows
  8. Western gull
  9. California quail
  10. Black oysercatcher
  11. Winter wren

Tidepool Morning and the Gulls

Happy Birding!

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Outdoor Hour Challenge-Birds: Meadowlarks and Goldfinches

Outdoor Hour Challenge Birds #3
Goldfinch and Meadowlark (Western and Eastern)

Inside preparation work:
1. Read the Handbook of Nature Study pages 29-33 about feathers. Another great link is found here: Feather Structure. Here is another link to Bird Wing Shapes.

2. Read in the Handbook of Nature Study pages 53-57 about the goldfinch.

3. Read the Handbook of Nature Study pages 80-82 about the meadowlark.

4. Backyard Birds: Read aloud with your child pages 16-19. Use the illustrations to point out the field marks for each bird and for the goldfinch, the differences between the male and female birds.

5. Peterson Field Guide: Make note of the wing and tail shape illustrations on pages 18 and 19(W) 24 and 25(E) Look up in the index the goldfinch and the meadowlark. Observe the illustrations carefully and read the narrative descriptions and explanations. Notice the beak, the tail, and the wing shape for future reference. (See links at the bottom of the post for the particulars on these field guides.)

Outdoor Hour Time
Practice your quiet observation skills for at least part of your 10-15 minutes of birding time. Remember the focus from challenge two and make special note of the shape of the beak and the way the bird uses it. Also, make note of the wing and tail shapes of any birds that you observe during this challenge.

Shape of the tail: Square tip? Rounded? Pointed? Notched?
Shape of the wing: Rounded? Pointed? Slim? Long? Short?

Sometimes a bird’s wings and tail look differently when they fly. Observe a bird during flight to see if you can notice different colors, shapes, or stripes when they fly. Remember to make these observations for any bird you see during your outdoor time and not just for the meadowlark and/or the goldfinch.

Follow Up Activity for the Goldfinch and the Meadowlark
You can make a nature journal entry for the goldfinch and the meadowlark if you would like. There are several styles of journal pages in the set below.

You will find a coloring page for the goldfinch in Feeder Birds Coloring Book.

For something different in your nature journal, copy the John Keats poem on page 57 of the Handbook of Nature Study. Many families like to include poetry in their nature journals and this poem about the goldfinch is a perfect addition.

If you are using’s bird nature study set (shown below), you can use the pages on feathers to record your feather observations or you can draw a feather and label its parts.

If you would like to hear the bird calls for this week’s birds, here are the links:

Also I am highly recommending that you purchase the Bird Bundle from as a great supplement to your study of birds using the Outdoor Hour Challenge. Note: These are affiliate links.

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

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