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Once a Month Nature Journal Project: Add Color to Your Nature Journal

Once a Month Nature Journal Project

Add Color to Your Nature Journal

-From the Archives

This school year, I’m going to be revisiting the Once a Month Nature Journal Project here on my blog. Each month I’ll share one of the suggestions from the series for you to use with your family.

I know what it’s like to get stuck when starting a new nature journal page. The blank slate is a little daunting to many of us, especially those new to the idea of nature journaling.

Challenge yourself to give each idea a try!

If you need more inspiration, I created a Pinterest board that gathers dozens of actual nature journal pages from participants.

Once a Month Nature Journal Project Use Color @handbookofnaturestudy

Let’s start off with the Add Color prompt from the Once a Month Nature Journal Project. Click the graphic above to go to the original blog entry and read the suggestions for adding color

Outdoor Hour Challenge Fall Color Walk @handbookofnaturestudy

Do you have some fall color to recreate in your nature journal? You may be interested in clicking over to the Fall Color Outdoor Hour Challenge.


Color Cards For Your Winter Color Study
Use these color word cards to stimulate a fun nature study related activity. See how many of the colors you can find during your winter color hunt.

TIPS: These cards can be printed on cardstock or cut and pasted to index cards. If you only have a black and white printer, have your children color the words or the border with markers before going outside.
Printable Color Word Cards


Complete list of all the Once a Month Nature Journal Project Ideas

January – Nature Journal With a Photo

February- Nature Journal Out Your Window

March – Use Numbers

April – Collections

May – Signs

June Sketch Outdoors

July – Using Your 5 Senses

August – Make a List

September – Colors

October – Add a Map

November – Trace an Item

December- Make a Wish List






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Outdoor Mom – August 2020

This has been a month for insect watching! It’s been a long time since I picked a “focus” nature topic for the month and it’s reminded me of the value of being alert to seeing things I might otherwise miss.

dragonfly lake hosmer kayak float july 2020

Dragon flies were the star for several of our outings on the water.  I have a fun memory of floating on the river with blue dragonflies landing on my arms and hat. Then there were the larger black and white dragonflies that look like small hummingbirds. They were spotted high up on tops of reeds and sticks, hanging out over the water where they sat waiting for a meal.

 wildflower garden august 2020

The wildflower garden has been abuzz with all kinds of insects. It makes me happy to sit nearby and listen and watch as they hop on, hover over, and dip into the colorful flowers.

We decided the meadow out behind the house should be called “grasshopper acres” this month because of the abundance of hopping and leaping that happens as you walk through the grasses. They are everywhere.

insect nature journal page august 2020

I’m keeping myself accountable this month with an insect page in my nature journal. It’s nothing fancy but it will remind me of a few of the insects I encountered during this month of looking for insects.

partial list august birds 2020

Our bird list this month has some surprise entries. The most inspiring addition was the Common Nighthawk. I wish I could post a video of the flying acrobatics of this amazing flyer! We noted the pointy wings, the white patches under the wings, and watched it on several late afternoons and evenings over the river.

Then there was the exciting visit of five Great Egrets. We observed them flying down at the river with their long thin necks, stick-like legs, and long yellow beaks. This is the first time we’ve seen a group of egrets here in our Oregon neighborhood.

But, the most compelling visitor we had this month is the Cooper’s hawk. He’s been hunting at my bird feeder. Twice I watched him dive at the feeder as the little birds flew off in every direction. Afterwards, both times, he sat in the tree over the feeder, unsuccessful in capturing anyone. I was able to get a good look at him as he actually posed for a few photos. A rather large and handsome hawk, he sat and patiently waited for a long time before flying off.

window decal review 2020
It’s hard to capture them in a photo.


On another bird related note, I installed some window decals that are designed to alert birds and prevent bird strikes. Our living room has a HUGE picture window and it has been the scene of many bird strikes and deaths in the past. I purchased the Window Alert window decals in the hope of reducing the number of birds who run smack into our window glass. They were easy to adhere to the exterior of the window. I was worried that they would annoy me as I look out the window but I’m happy to say that I don’t even really notice them anymore.

Do they work? I can’t say they have eliminated ALL of the bird strikes from happening, but I have noted that the very few that still hit the window must see the decals and slow down enough that it isn’t a fatal collision. We haven’t had a single bird death since putting the Window Alert decals up.

I call that pretty successful. I purchased them at our local Wild Birds Unlimited store for $6.95. The package says to replace the decals every four months since the UV coating will eventually fade and not be as effective. I guess I’ll get another set next spring.

Here are a few more fun things we did outdoors this month.

fishing crooked river august 2020

We made a day trip to the Crooked River to have a picnic and go fishing.

Koosah falls oregon august 2020

We took a new hike at Sahalie and Koosah Falls. What a magnificent place to take a 3-mile hike alongside the McKenzie River. I think this is my top pick for a day hike here in Oregon.

lavender farm hood river july 2020

My daughter and I had an awesome time cutting lavender at the Hood River Lavender Farm. What great memories we made that day! It was a hot day and the scent of lavender was thick in the air. We tasted lavender lemonade for the first time and loved its refreshing flavor.


Instagram OutdoorHourChallenge small

Are you following me on Instagram? I post regularly about my garden, the Central Oregon habitat, and our adventures. If you add the hashtag #outdoorhourchallenge to your Instagram posts, I’ll come visit your images!

Want to join in the Outdoor Mom post?

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 month 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…
  • One last image…


Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020

All members here on the Handbook of Nature Study have access to the 2020-2021 nature plan for the Outdoor Hour Challenge. Look for it in your library.



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2020 Nature Journal Examples and Links

2020 Nature Journal Examples and Links

This has been a year filled with personal challenges. My routine has been turned upside down and along with that my habit of creating pages in my nature journal has become erratic and lower on the priority list.

This last month I’ve made an effort to get back into the habit of journaling weekly. I went back and planned out some pages to “catch up” on, so 2020 isn’t light on nature notes and observations.  I brought out the nature journal supplies, sharpened the pencils and organized the markers. I plan on making myself more accountable for putting down my thoughts and observations as I go along for the rest of the year.

Stay tuned to see how I do in this endeavor.

Nature Journal 2020 examples (2)

Wish List: Creating nature goals for the year is a form of a “wish list” of things I hope to accomplish. Your family can adapt this idea to fit your needs, including any of the suggestions in the wish list entry linked here.

Nature Journal 2020 examples (5)

Recap Your Month: Creating a monthly recap page is a simple way to gather lots of details into one place. I enjoy creating a “highlights” recap and your family may like to pool ideas to make a recap page in your nature journal.

Nature Journal 2020 examples (8)

Make a List: There’s usually a list of one sort of another each month in my nature journal. It may not be very exciting but it does create a record that I look at from year to year. Comparing lists is something I do all the time.

Nature Journal 2020 examples

Sketch Outdoors: I took my journaling supplies along on a recent outing to the Crooked River. We stopped along the river and I realized I had the perfect view and an opportunity to sketch a juniper tree for my nature journal. What an enjoyable afternoon!

The positive news is that I faithfully complete my daily nature observations in my Nature Observer book for 2020. Keeping up on this pre-printed journal will help me reconstruct some of the months I missed in my regular nature journal.

Nature Journal 2020 examples (6)

Each month has a blank calendar to fill in with short observations, a bullet grid page for my own customized observation reminders, and a weekly spread for writing more in detail anything of note.

Nature Journal 2020 examplesFor July, I not only used the bullet grid for daily temperatures and other nature activities, but included a list of the wildflowers and birds observed both in my yard and down at the river. This format can easily be adapted to any bullet style journal page you are using.

The links to Amazon in this entry are my affiliate entries. I have purchased this book with my own money and I am sharing my enthusiasm for this product after using it for 2 years!

Getting Started with Nature Journals

Need some more specific nature journal ideas?

I’ve created a page on the website that gathers an abundance of nature journal ideas, suggestions, examples, and links. I invite you to jump over there and find your inspiration.


Are you familiar with the book/system Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes? This incremental, child-friendly, learning to draw plan is a valuable part of an art skills program for many homeschoolers. I loved it so much that when my children were younger I adapted the plans to incorporate nature related topics and our nature journals. I’ve gathered those plans into one file for you to download and use for free.

Download: Drawing with Children Nature Journal Style lesson plans printable


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Mammal Nature Study and Journals

Mammal Nature Study and Journals

Do you have some time on your hands these days for a little extra nature study?

Here’s a short of list of the newer Outdoor Hour Challenges you may want to complete that feature some totally awesome mammals. I’m personally working my way through the list in my own study and following up with nature journal pages for each one. I still have a few more to go!

Forest Fun ebook cover graphic

Black Bear Nature Study

Porcupine nature journal page

Porcupine Nature Study

Moose Nature Study

High Desert Ebook cover graphic


Elk Nature Study

Coyote mammal nature journal

Coyote Nature Study

Douglas squirrel golden mantled ground squirrel mammal nature journal

Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel Nature Study

Mountain Lion mammal nature journal

Mountain Lion Nature Study

Pocket Gopher Nature Study

river otter nature journal

River Otter Nature Study


You can click the link below to find all the mammal related nature study ideas here on the Handbook of Nature Study. I invite you to click on over and find something too!

Outdoor Hour Challenge Mammal Nature Study Index @handbookofnaturestudy


This is the perfect time to purchase an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership using the discount code SPRINGTOGETHER and receive $10 off.

That means you will receive all the benefits of a membership for just $35!

Benefits by Level graphic 2019 to 2020 updated January 2020


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Western Tanager Nature Study and Journal Page

I’ve been looking forward to the Western Tanager bird study (Outdoor Hour Challenge – Western Tanager) ever since we saw our very first tanager visitors to the feeder last spring. Their bright colors reminded us of the tropical flowers we see in Hawaii!

western tanager may 2019

Would you like to see my nature journal page for the Western tanager?  I tend to follow the same format for my bird pages, including the four key graphics from the website. I include a sketch and some pertinent facts. I use my field guide and the website to gather my information so it’s a super easy page to make.

Western Tanager nature journal

I struggle with drawing and depicting birds accurately but in the end I get the basic idea onto the page even if it isn’t exactly the way I picture it in my head.

Tip: You can always add a photo instead of sketching if it makes you more comfortable.

I was just telling a friend who’s starting out with identifying the birds at her feeder that she should just take it one bird at a time. Birding is something you can do for a lifetime so if you can manage to learn about and identify just one new bird a month for the next ten years, imagine the number of birds you will be familiar with.

Nature study is just the gathering of knowledge over time.

One bird, one tree, one flower at a time.

Getting Started with Nature Journals

Would you like some more ideas for nature journal pages? There is a page on my website devoted just to nature journal ideas. I invite you to click over and scroll through for something that catches your eye!

Forest Fun ebook cover graphic

The Western Tanager Outdoor Hour Challenge is found in the Forest Fun ebook available in the Ultimate and Journey level memberships.

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist January 2020

Use the discount code OHC10 for $5 off an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership.

Learning About Birds ebook Bird List @handbookofnaturestudy

You can also use the Learning About Birds ebook from the Ultimate and Journey level memberships to learn more about the birds in your local area. This book can be used over multiple years as you identify a bird and want to learn about it more in depth.



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Nature Observer – May 2019

We had a tease of spring before the cold temperatures crept back in and the rains came pouring down. My friend keeps track of the rainfall numbers and we’re on track for a record breaking year as far as inches of rain. Here in Central Oregon we have a fairly dry climate, some call it the High Desert because of the low rainfall and dry air. You wouldn’t think so right now with the water standing in our yard and the rivers running very high. I’m dreaming of the long, warm summer days.

In the meantime, we jump outside when the sun is out and work on the garden and get out to observe all the amazing things we have in our area.

Here are some nature highlights from our month.

tree swallow nesting box may 2019 (2)

We have two pairs of tree swallows nesting in our yard again this year. We’ve observed them going in and out of the boxes early in the morning and then later they take off to swoop and dive out over the river. They sometimes come back to sit on the fence in the sunshine. They are such graceful and pretty birds and I’m so pleased they are nesting here again.

nest may 2019

There’s also a nest up on the back of our bbq house. I noted some dried grasses on the ground behind the shed and wondered where they came from. On investigating it further, I looked up to see a big nest up on the top of the wall. The kind of bird has yet to be determined.

western tanager may 2019

What a fantastic surprise to look outside the other day and see the colorful Western tanager at our bird feeder! There ended up being five males and two females that were enjoying the suet feeder.

smith rock hike oregon may 2019

We braved the weather to get in a hike at Smith Rock State Park on a weekday afternoon. It’s a very popular place on the weekends, so my aim was to get there on a day and time when we wouldn’t have so many other people on the trail. Success!

arrowleaf balsamroot

There were so many wildflowers to see along the trail and there were lots of birds too! My favorite flower of the day was most definitely the arrowleaf balsamroot that was growing along the ridge of the canyon. There was quite a display of color!

Now for a couple of pages from my nature journal.

Lake Clementine nature journal

I attempted to draw a scene from the hike. The water coming over the dam from the lake and the resulting rainbow in the spray was one of my favorite moments to capture as a reminder of this day with my daughter on the American River in California.

porcupine nature journal

My son was out hiking behind our house in the evening and he spotted a slow moving animal in the distance. As he got closer, he first thought it was a beaver but when it climbed a tree he realized it was in fact a porcupine! I still haven’t seen it, even though I’ve been trying to keep my eyes open for it when we’re out in the evenings. This page is the result of my research in the hope that I will soon spy my very own porcupine.

I’m still playing catch up in my nature journal so hopefully I’ll have a few more pages next month to share. In the meantime, if you want to look at the page on my website with hundreds of nature journal ideas, please feel free to use them as inspiration.

Getting Started with Nature Journals


There are many, many nature journal ideas included in the archives of the Handbook of Nature Study newsletters. If you have any level of membership, make sure to download the newsletter index to make finding a topic easy.

Newsletter Index download

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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Garden #3 Press Spring Flowers

Have you been enjoying your garden flower study? By now you should have picked some flowers to study, gathered the seeds, planted your seed babies, and started to learn the names of the flower parts. If you missed any of those challenges, here are the links:

Garden Flower and Plants – #1

Garden Flower and Plants – #2

This week is one of my favorite spring activities! Collecting flowers and pressing them using the simple instructions in this week’s challenge may just become your favorite activity too!

Don’t miss the video I created showing how to make a simple flower press using common supplies you’ll have in your home. You can even make a flower press for each family member! (You can view the video on Youtube: Making a Simple Flower Press.)

Link to the Archive Outdoor Hour Challenge –

Focus on Garden Flowers #3 Flower Pressing

You can use pressed flowers in your nature journal in several ways. You can adhere them right into your journal like I did in this McGurk’s Meadow entry.

flower press flowers 2Or, you can create a wax paper pouch that will hold your pressed flowers. You can find the instructions on my blog in this entry:

How to Make a Waxed Paper Pouch for your Nature Journal.

Pressed Flower Pouch 9


Gardens ebook Outdoor Hour challenge

We’re continuing to work through the Garden Flower and Plants ebook over the next few weeks. If you own this ebook or have access to it in your Ultimate Naturalist Library, you’ll want to get it out and read the first few pages. It outlines how the ten week series of garden challenges work together and can be done in any order that makes sense to your family. The ebook has planning pages as you choose, observe, and then learn more about each garden flower you study.

If you’d like to purchase a membership so you have all of the challenges at your fingertips and the custom notebooking pages too, click over to read all the details and download a sample: Garden Flower and Plant Challenges.

 HNS Newsletter Sept 2014 Fall Flowers Button

If you’re a member here on the Handbook of Nature Study website, you can also download and use the September 2014 newsletter with two flower related activities: flower observations for young children and instructions on how to dissect a flower. The archived newsletters are available in all levels of membership here on the Handbook of Nature Study.   



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Nature Observer -February 2019

The month of February has brought with it a lot of SNOW! We haven’t thawed out completely since the beginning of the snow storms. There have been a few days of sunshine but the temperatures have been very cold; cold enough to keep the snow and ice piled up outside our door.

birdfeeder in the snow juncos

We’ve been trying to keep up with the birds that visit our feeders as part of Project Feederwatch and also during the Great Backyard Bird Count. From what I can observe, not only have there been fewer bird species but even the numbers of those birds has decreased. Some days I only see a handful of birds….far less than this same time period last year. Because we haven’t lived here very long, it’s hard to know if this is an unusual year or not. We’ll keep a detailed record of our observations and see how the year progresses.

nature journal examples (8) february detailed observations

I’ve kept up with my daily nature journal notes with our temperatures, snow amounts, and other interesting details from our observations. These simple notes help record just a little more thorough picture of the season.



Images from my Journal

nature journal examples (3) january bird list

I completed my January birds page. Now that I look at it, it needs a little more detail to make it a really good record of the month. Perhaps I’ll add the numbers of birds I observed (by looking at my Project Feederwatch data) and maybe compare this year’s January birds with last year’s list.

nature journal examples (2) snow data

Here’s the page that I made to keep track of the January snow. I may just add February’s statistics to it as well since there’s room.

nature journal examples (4) january grid study newsletter

I used a Handbook of Nature Study newsletter printable grid to record some fun nature details in my journal. This is a super simple way to get started if you’re stumbling over a big ol’ blank page. See this entry for more information on using nature study grids: Using Printables from the Handbook of Nature Study Newsletter.

nature journal examples (5) february birds list GBBC

Here’s a look at my February birds page in progress. I’m keeping a running list of birds observed, left room for my Great Backyard Bird count details and thoughts, and I’m using a printable grid from the Handbook of Nature Study newsletter to encourage me to be on the lookout for birds of all colors. I will finish this one up by the end of the month.

nature journal examples (6) great horned owl bird

We heard a pair of Great Horned Owls early one morning and I wanted to create a page that had all of the interesting facts about this bird in my nature journal. I find the process of looking up the information for a page helps me learn and remember things better. I’m not aiming for a fancy page but one that has meaning to me. I’m challenging myself to draw in my nature journal, not on every page but a few times a month.


One More Image

feb 2019 mountain lion

We’ve had a mountain lion roaming our neighborhood for a few weeks. Our next door neighbor snapped this image of the big cat right up in a tree in his backyard. It makes me a little nervous to have such a wild creature so near to our home, but we’re just taking precautions and being alert to any signs that he is back.

Ultimate Naturalist Library September 2017 @handbookofnaturestudy

There are many, many nature journal ideas included in the archives of the Handbook of Nature Study newsletters. If you have any level of membership, make sure to download the newsletter index to make finding a topic easy.

Newsletter Index download

76 issues of the Handbook of Nature Study newsletter are available in the Discovery level of membership for only $20! You also get the Getting Started with the Outdoor Hour Challenge ebook in this level which makes it a super awesome value for your $20.

Download an index of topics here: Handbook of Nature Study Newsletter Topics and Printables.



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Nature Observer – January 2019

Nature Journal Project

This month is a fresh start to my nature journaling journey. I’m keeping several different journals as a way to become more of a naturalist specializing in my own habitat. This just feels like it’s the right time.

what is a naturalist button

Although I’m still trying to keep things simple, I’ve created a new routine for recording my daily notes and statistics as a way to reach my Nature Study Goals for 2019.

Daily Notebooks

Every day I create a brief entry in the Naturalist Notebook which is really a five year record of daily details. You can see in the image how there is a very small box for each day running across the page. Then, down the column will be where I fill in information over the next four years. This way you can compare the daily events from year to year. Right now it feels very ambitious but I’ve learned that if you take it one day at a time it isn’t such a huge project.

The second place I’m recording daily information is in this planner/notebook. It has larger spaces for me to include more details or thoughts for each day. I’m still deciding if I like this particular notebook for this purpose, but time will tell if it works for me.

Note: It’s an 18-month calendar and so the first part has been unused. I’m trying to decide if I should just remove the pages or repurpose them in some way.

This entry includes affiliate links to

Field Notebook

I have yet to make a single record in my field notebook. It’s super cold when I go outside and I usually wear gloves. This makes it hard to take the notebook and pencil out. That’s a pretty bad excuse for not giving this tool a try and I will be working on doing better. Maybe I should wear my fingerless gloves when I go out on my walks.

Personal Nature Journal

This is where I’ve really stepped up my nature journaling game this year. I’ve gone ahead and prepared several introductory pages for the year and then planned a few pages for January ahead of time.

If you follow me on Instagram, I’ll be sharing the month’s pages at the end of each month in a video along with an explanation.

winter willow nature journal

Here’s an example of one of my January pages sharing my winter willow observations. You can see that I’ve switched to a larger size page for this year just to switch things up.

river otter nature journal

I have some of the pages planned out, but there’s still room to add in things that spring up during our nature walks like the river otter scampering across the icy river with a fresh fish in his mouth. What a great experience!

Al in all, I think I’ve been successful in getting started with my new routine of nature journaling. It takes a few minutes a day to keep up with the daily notes and maybe 30 minutes or so to create a new nature journal page in my personal journal. With this little effort, I’m loving the feeling of getting to know my habitat better with each passing week. Using the Outdoor Hour Challenges gives me a framework and inspiration to learn something new! This knowledge is not only fun to learn but very encouraging to pass along to my friends and family.

Be Inspired! Be Encouraged! Get Outdoors!

Getting Started with Nature Journals

Do you want some more specific nature journal ideas? Click over to my nature journal page and scroll down for the Once-a-Month Nature Journal Project idea buttons. There’s a lot there to keep you busy!


Ultimate Naturalist Library September 2017 @handbookofnaturestudyThere are many, many nature journal ideas included in the archives of the Handbook of Nature Study newsletters. If you have any level of membership, make sure to download the newsletter index to make finding a topic easy.

Newsletter Index download




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Nature Observer – Nature November

It’s been another month of spending time inside recovering from my hip replacement surgery. There’s been a lot of time gazing out the window at the view and my birdfeeders. In addition, I’ve done quite a bit of reading about my favorite nature topics. There’s just so much to learn!

We spotted the first of our elk herd a week or so ago but haven’t seen them since. It’s always just at daybreak when they move behind our fence so we have to be up and watching or we miss them.

beaver tree 2018 in progress

Plus we have been watching and waiting for our beaver to make his appearance. It all started with my husband noticing a tree down by the river that had been gnawed almost the whole way through. We set up our critter cam to see if we could capture the beaver at work but we missed it! We didn’t have the camera in place on the night they finished off the tree.

beaver tree cut down 2018

In the meantime, we’ve been trying to get a video of the beaver taking the limbs off the tree but so far we’re unsuccessful. We won’t be giving up!

Here are my pages from the last month for your inspiration.

silverweed nature journal page

This wildflower is a common sight on our walks to the river and in our yard too. We have a bit in our rock garden and some even growing in our lawn.

june 2018 common silverweed

We tried to transplant a few of the silverweed plants to our new landscaping berm and next year we’ll see if they moved successfully.

critter cam journal page from nature observer

I converted an unused page in my Nature Observer journal to record our critter cam results.

Note the link above is my affiliate link.

chickadee nature journal page

One of the most common birds in our birdfeeders is the chickadee. I realized we live in an area that has both the black-capped chickadee and the mountain chickadee. As I worked on my bird sketching skills, I created a page with a few facts and field notes for the two species.

chickadee at the feeder

I find that sketching subjects and writing a few pertinent facts down in my journal helps me to remember it better.

Project Feederwatch tally sheet

We started the new season of Project Feederwatch! I love this activity and look forward to each week’s counting days. If you aren’t familiar with the project, you count birds that come to your feeders for two days in a row basically once a week. You can watch the feeder for just a few minutes or as long as you have available. This super easy citizen science project helped me gain confidence in recognizing all the birds that come to our feeders by taking it one bird at a time. I highly recommend this for bird loving families with a birdfeeder in your yard!

In addition to my regular nature journal, I work daily in my Nature Observer journal. This is the perfect way to note all the simple every day thoughts and observations which over time give a fuller picture of your local habitat.


Instagram OutdoorHourChallenge small

Don’t forget that I’m sharing a nature journal page each week on my Instagram account if you want to see the pages as they unfold. Follow me here: Instagram – outdoorhourchallenge. And, if you want to create a page and share it on your Instagram for me to see, use the hashtag #OHCnaturejournal.