Posted on 4 Comments

Homeschool Nature Book – Birds, Nests, and Eggs

The book Birds, Nests, and Eggs is the perfect beginner’s book for homeschool nature study. It’s also a wonderful take along guide that features many of the common birds that we see in our yards and neighborhoods.

The book Birds, Nests, and Eggs is the perfect beginner’s book for many of the common birds that we see in our yards and neighborhoods.

Homeschool Nature Book – Birds, Nests, and Eggs

Birds, Nests, and Eggs – Take Along Guide

(Note the link above is an Amazon affiliate link to a book that I own and love.)

The illustrations give a wonderful look at something we don’t often see because they are hidden from sight. The nests are shown in such a way that you can see the shape and what materials are used for creating just the right container for the fragile bird eggs. The eggs are also shown in full color. This is a fun way to learn more about birds and their life cycle. In addition, you’ll find some fun bird related activities to try and to weave into your backyard bird study.

This book is one that we have in our nature book library. I know you’ll enjoy it too! Birds, Nests, and Eggs – Take Along Guide

The book Birds, Nests, and Eggs is the perfect beginner’s book for many of the common birds that we see in our yards and neighborhoods.

More Take-Along Nature Guides for Your Homeschool

When I found my first “Take-Along Guide” at a used book store, I was interested so I purchased it.  But it was later when I began really reading it that I became really interested.

I would recommend reading through your Take-Along Guide before taking off on your nature walk. Then you can put it in your bag and bring with you on your walk and use it to identify things as you go. Read more of the Take-Along Nature Guides for Homeschool.

The book Birds, Nests, and Eggs is the perfect beginner’s book for many of the common birds that we see in our yards and neighborhoods.
The book Birds, Nests, and Eggs is the perfect beginner’s book for many of the common birds that we see in our yards and neighborhoods.

Bird Resources to Use in Your Homeschool Nature Study

Examples of Nests and Eggs: This is a page on the Cornell website that shows actual nests and eggs for many common birds. Spend some time with your children clicking the images and viewing them together.

Nestwatch: This citizen science program is something your family could participate in if you have a nest in your yard. Take a look and see if it’s something you can incorporate into your nature study plans.

Learn About Birds Homeschool Nature Study membership.

Bird Nest Study in our Homeschool Nature Study Membership

You can use notebooking pages in Homeschool Nature Study Membership to complete a bird study that focuses on the nest.

You can find even more bird nature study ideas in the Learning About Birds Outdoor Hour Challenge curriculum. This ebook curriculum is available in annual Homeschool Nature Study membership.

Posted on 11 Comments

Florida Nature Study – Exploring a New Habitat

Spending part of my time in Florida immersed in nature study was a highlight of my recent traveling adventure. I prepared ahead of time by purchasing a wonderful book focusing on the Florida Gulf Coast. Wow! There was a lot to be excited about! My trip was specifically to Sanibel and Captiva Islands and then a few days in Naples, Florida. Getting the opportunity to explore a new to me habitat is thrilling!

Since my time was limited but I did have a sweet ride in my friend Tricia’s sponsored car from Kia Optima Hybrid, I wanted to have a general plan for our time outdoors. I narrowed it down to a couple of possibilities and we decided that we would visit Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge. We started off in the nature center browsing the exhibits and then I asked at the information desk what they suggested we do to make the best use of our two hours that we had available.

They handed us a map and directed us to take the wildlife drive that wound its way through the refuge and would take about an hour and a half. They also suggested that we drive over to the Bailey Tract and look for gators there.

Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge

We followed their advice and thoroughly enjoyed our time driving along the one lane road through Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge. There were many birds right by the side of the road so we could stop and observe or take photos as much as we wanted. What made it really nice was the fact that the Kia Optima Hybrid is super quiet while running on the battery. We did not scare away the wildlife turning the car on and off….it was awesome.

We saw a mama raccoon and her *four* babies as they walked along the road and then across right in front of us. The whole drive was full of wonderful discoveries like the Roseate Spoonbill and the Anhinga who was sunning himself. What a great time we had and so many memories were made in a short period of time! I was so glad I had taken the time to prepare a little before leaving home.

Alligator and other Reptiles at Bailey Tract

Tricia and I were hoping to see a Florida gator on this trip and we were not disappointed. Along the way we also were treated to many butterflies and a few lizards. I can’t tell you how much fun we had hiking out to look for the alligators. We found one lying in the sun, half in the water and with one eye open. Another item to check off my life list!

South Seas Island Resort on Captiva Island

Sanibel and Captiva Islands are known for their fantastic shell beaches. As a native California girl, I have spent my fair share of time at the beach looking for shells, but shelling on these Florida islands is much easier and more rewarding. Tricia and I spent one afternoon walking in the sand, wading in the water, and collecting a few beautiful shells in the Florida sunshine.

Our view from our hotel room was out onto the marina and we saw dolphins a couple of times over the weekend. Two times I saw osprey with fish in their talons flying over the marina. There were nesting platforms along the back side of the beach and one morning I saw some osprey on the their nest. What a great sight!

The Beach at Captiva Island and an Osprey Nest

There were shore birds, skimmers, gulls, sand pipers, pelicans, and plovers. It was a bird fest for this nature loving gal.

Pine Flatwoods at Corkscrew Swamp

Tricia left for home and I met another longtime friend at the second location I was able to explore. I stayed in Naples, Florida and was able to visit Corkscrew Swamp Sactuary. There are miles of boardwalks to investigate as they make their way through a variety of habitats. Slash pine and baldcypress were the main trees but there were some palms and saw palmetto too. The sound of birds singing and the cries of Red-shouldered hawks overhead were the soundtrack for the morning. We also learned to identify the Gray catbird by its call.

Epiphytes or Air Plants

We hiked the complete trail loop and took our time as we stopped to use binoculars and video to try to identify the various birds. There were naturalists out on the trail as well and they were super helpful in giving us information and help when we couldn’t identify a bird. This place was awesome and another place I highly recommend if you ever visit the gulf coast of Florida.

I was overwhelmed by all the things to take in…from the overall impression of the new to me habitat to the calls of some really big birds like the Great Blue Heron and the Anhinga. We saw more gators, squirrels, and more new birds to add to my life list like the Great crested flycatcher, the Pileated woodpecker, and the Carolina wren…all very exciting! I was able to use my iPhone to identify or confirm our sightings and then use the notes section on the phone to keep track of their names. Sometimes technology has its place in nature study and this was one time I was super glad to have it along.

Anhinga and Great Egret

One last stop on my whirlwind nature study adventure…the mangroves at Clam Pass Beach Park. My friend who lives in Naples was able to fit that into our day right at sunset. We walked part of the trail and then rode the shuttle the rest of the way…finding the sun just starting to set and people gathering to try to observe the infamous “green flash” at sunset. We soaked in the mangroves and I saw my first ever Blue jay (we have Scrub jays and Steller’s jays here in California).

Bald Cypress at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary Florida

I am grateful for the opportunity I had to include some nature study and hiking into my trip to Florida. What a rich experience I had between the wildlife refuge, the beach time, and the time spent wandering the Florida swamps and mangroves.

I have already recorded my time in my nature journal….I did a quick sketch of the view from our window while in Florida and then finished it up at home with watercolors and details from my notes. I have the memories all tucked away in my heart and in a few good photos.

Would like to see some of Tricia’s Florida nature study images? Pop over to read her entry on her blog: Hodgepodge. While you are over there…check out her review of the Kia Optima Hybrid!

Kia Optima Hybrid Review

Posted on 4 Comments

Outdoor Hour Challenge – Bird Study Grid

We are staring a month long focus on birds using the Handbook of Nature Study and other resources found here on my blog and in each Friday’s post. Make sure you have subscribed to this blog so you will receive the monthly newsletter download link for additional bird study encouragement and special discounts on ebooks and other products.  

Outdoor Hour Challenge:
For our first bird related challenge, let’s all print out our Bird Study Grids from the newsletter. This month they are a little different than in previous months. I have given you two simple grids that you all can use wherever you live and at whatever time of year you want to study birds. There are also two smaller tally sheets you can print out for your nature journal to record bird colors and bird parts you observe. Print and cut any or all of the grids this month and have some fun while taking your Outdoor Hour Challenge time either outdoors looking for birds or from you window if you need to.  

Printable Activity: Handbook of Nature Study Nature Table Ideas Birds
Use the suggestions on this free printable to build or add to your nature table. There are many suggestions that have hyperlinks so make sure to check those out for additional ideas and resources. Send me a photo of your nature table and it may be included in the next newsletter!

Getting Started Suggestion:
If you already own the Getting Started ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #4.  Use your outdoor time to talk about your new focus for the month on birds and all the different ways you can learn about birds. Spend a few minutes listening for birds, looking for signs of birds, and then completing the accompanying notebook page in the ebook or an entry in your own nature journal. 

Blog Logo 1


Handbook of Nature Study Ultimate Naturalist Library

Posted on 3 Comments

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!

Posted on 5 Comments

Birds of Summer: July List

Bird Nest - Southern Wyoming
Nest on a Utility Pole – Southern Wyoming

We spent quite a bit of time away from home in July so I will attempt to break the list down by location.

Tweet and See button


  1. European Starlings
  2. House Finches
  3. Lesser Goldfinches – they sound like they are laughing
  4. White-Breasted Nuthatch
  5. Oak Titmouse
  6. American Robins
  7. Mourning Doves – our constant companions, everyday under the feeders, always a pair
  8. California Towhee
  9. Steller’s Jay
  10. Western Scrub Jay
  11. Acorn Woodpecker
  12. Great Horned Owl – early morning
  13. Anna’s Hummingbird – males chasing each other, not so many in the feeders but in the flower garden
  14. House Sparrows
  15. Canada Goose
  16. American Crow
  17. Turkey Vultures
  18. Red-tail Hawk
  19. Mountain Chickadee
  20. Black-headed Grosbeak
  21. California Quail
  22. Brewer’s blackbirds

Santa Cruz

  1. Brown Pelicans
  2. California Gulls

Grand Tetons/Utah Trip

  1. Osprey-Wyoming
  2. Trumpeter Swans
  3. American White Pelicans
  4. Lots of gulls – not sure what kind
  5. Killdeer
  6. Barn Swallows
  7. Red-winged blackbirds
  8. Western meadowlark

If I ever go back to Yellowstone, I will print this bird list. 

You can share your link with Tweet and See…click the button above to learn more about the monthly meme. This exercise of keeping a list of birds has opened my eyes to a whole world. I highly recommend this activity for all families, no matter where you live. 

Posted on 5 Comments

Trees Do Fall Down in the Woods

Red Shack 10 6 10 (9) Tree Down

Now this could pose a problem…..a big pine tree down across our hiking trail.

Red Shack 10 6 10 (11) Acorns in the trunk

We actually noticed before that this particular tree is *full* of acorn holes where the woodpeckers have made a huge storehouse of acorns in the trunk. We think this is what led to the demise of this big tree. That looks like a fresh acorn inside the hole.

Red Shack 10 6 10 (12) Acorn holes

When it fell, big pieces of the bark came off and exposed all the acorn holes. We climbed up and over to continue our hike. The dog decided to crawl underneath but either way it worked.

Red Shack 10 6 10 (1) Paper Wasp

Further down the trail my son spotted this section of a wasp nest on the trail. These are amazing creations and hard to believe that an insect made this out of their spit and plant fibers. Once again the Handbook of Nature Study helped us to learn a little bit more about the process of building the nest on page 381 (Lesson 95). The whole section is fascinating…here is an excerpt:

“The nest is of paper made of bits of wood which the wasps pull off with their jaws from weather-worn fences or boards. This wood is reduced to pulp by saliva which is secreted from the wasp’s mouth, and is laid on in little layers which can be easily seen by examining the outside of the nest.” Handbook of Nature Study, page 381.

Red Shack 10 6 10 (8) Some sort of gall

We also noticed these puffy growths on the oak branches along the trail. We thought maybe they were some sort of gall. I am still working on figuring out what exactly they are so if anyone has any ideas, I would appreciate an email.

It is nice to be out hiking again as the weather is cooling down a bit. My sons have been down off and on this week with a cold/flu. Mr. A said it was nice to get out and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine and I know it always makes me feel better too.

Posted on 3 Comments

Western Scrub Jay Nest

As part of our great front yard remodel, we cut down a tree.

Western Scrub Jay Nest
My boys brought me this nest that they found among the branches. I knew there was an abandoned nest up there and it was exciting to see it close-up.

Wester Scrub Jay Nest Close Up
We were able to only see the stick part from underneath but now we see it is lined with soft grasses for the eggs and babies.

We know it is from a Western Scrub Jay because we watched the baby birds fly away this past spring. We know they have a new tree to nest in across the yard…it has better protection and we think they may even have another nest there too.

Posted on 3 Comments

July Wildflowers and Another Nest

I was clearing my camera and decided to include a few photos from our explorations this month so far.

Yellow Wildflowers
New yellow wildflower. I think this is Hooker’s Evening Primrose.

Wildflowers Purple
New purple wildflower. I am still working on identifying this one.

Crimson Columbine.

Tiger Lily 2
Large Tiger lily.

Tiger Lily 1
No kidding, it is as large as my palm.

Osprey Nest
Osprey nest on the top of this dead tree…see it up there made out of sticks?

Here is a link to the sound that was coming from this nest:
All About Birds: Osprey
As we were standing there, the mama or daddy osprey flew in and dropped a fish from the lake into the nest and then it flew away. All was quiet again.

Just a few photos to keep track of some of the things we have experienced while outdoors this month.

Hubby surprised me with this new field guide. I haven’t had a chance to really look into it deeply but it looks very, very good. I will post a review soon.

Posted on 4 Comments

Quail’s Nest

quail eggs (2)

I forgot that I took these photos a few weeks ago of some quail’s egg shells in a nest. The nest was right on a bank outside a friend’s house in the dry grass on the ground. Amazing that no one saw it until now.

quail egg shells (2)
There were so many little egg shells and they are so pretty and speckled. We were not sure whether it looked like the eggs had hatched or not….they do have three foxes that frequent their property. Would foxes eat the whole egg or just break it open and eat what is inside?

We came home and looked up to make sure they belonged to a quail:
California Quail
We learned that a nest can have as many as 28 eggs! The nest is usually in a shallow depression on the ground and lined with grasses and other vegetation, usually 5-7 inches across.

quail eggs (1)
We have quail in our yard sometimes but I have never seen a nest before.

There is always something new to see if you keep your eyes wide open.

Posted on 10 Comments

A Few Bird Photos from My Saturday

My oldest son gave me his old Canon Rebel to use and yesterday I took a deep breath and started using it for the first time. I am a little intimidated by the sheer number of things I can do with this camera compared with my point and shoot.

I must have taken 100 photos and there are only four that are worth sharing. 🙂

Scrub Jay Gathering Sticks
I shared last week that we have a Western Scrub Jay building a nest in our front yard. I was able to capture him gathering some twigs for the nest as he flew from the backyard to the front yard about fifty times.

Scrub Jay in the feeder
Here is another jay in the feeder. I love the way his tail feathers are all folded up in this photo. He really is the King of this particular feeder. He spends a great deal of his time chasing the little birds out of the way.

Junco in the feeder
Here is a junco who managed to get his share of dinner before the jay swooped in and scared him away. The juncos are not particular about which feeder they eat in or under. I like the way you can see all his different colors of feathers in this photo.

Junco on the branch
One last photo of one of our resident juncos. He is so cut all puffed up and sitting on the branch of our sweet gum tree.

My goal is to work with the Canon a little each day so that I gain some confidence.

Stay tuned…..