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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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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Black and White Birds 2018

 

Black and White Birds Nature study @handbookofnature

Outdoor Hour Challenge

Black and White Birds – Woodpeckers, Chickadees, Nuthatches, and Towhees

From the Archives and from the Learning About Birds ebook

The birds in this week’s challenge are some of my favorite birds! There’s such a great variety of birds to choose from. To learn more, use the link above to the archived challenge. Which bird will you choose?

  • Woodpeckers: These are some of the most interesting birds that come to our backyard. They’re usually bigger than the rest and will cling to the tree trunk, pecking for their next meal. You can often hear them before you see them if they’re tapping on a tree or fence post.
  • Chickadees: Chickadees are very social little birds that have a simple to identify song. Listen for them with their chickadee call from the tree limbs. They’ll also come close to you if you sit next to your feeder.
  • Nuthatches: These little acrobats will climb up and down your tree trunks. They often remind me of little clown faces. They are fast!
  • Towhees: You will pretty much find towhees under your feeder and not perching at the feeder itself. They have a funny way of scratching around under the feeder to find their seeds. My favorite are the spotted towhees!

Pick one of the birds in this challenge to read about and then go outside and look for them!

Learning About Birds ebook Bird List @handbookofnaturestudy

This black and white 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.

 

 

 

 

Bonus Notebook Pages!

I am including two bonus notebook pages to all subscribers this month.

Bird StudyMy Nest Study

Download your notebook pages below!

Bird Study with Nest and Egg Notebook Page

My Nest Study Notebook Page

Make sure to save this email or download and save these pages now for future use. I will be eliminating the link 604/26/18. All new subscribers will get these two notebook pages in their follow up email after confirming their subscription.

 Handbook of Nature Study Subscribe Now 2

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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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Garden Joy! Backyard Birds – Colorful Flowers

Western scrub jay in our walnut tree.
White-breasted nuthatch doing his upside down thing.
Scrub jay taking a bath in the lawn sprinklers.

We have had a busy week around the birdfeeders which always makes me happy. The birds are enjoying our yard, partaking in the plums, the sunflower seeds, the walnuts, the birdbaths, the sprinklers, and the various feeders. I sometimes get very distracted….especially when I pull the camera out and try to capture a few images.

We all love watching them and hearing their songs as we go about our day.

So far today, I have heard quite a few birds: American crow, California quail, Western scrub jay, White-breasted nuthatch, House finches, Anna’s hummingbirds, and our little titmouse.

The sunflowers are still going strong and my very first zinnia from the transplants my dad sent over is blooming! There is a whole row of zinnias just about to burst out in color! Doesn’t it make you happy to have colorful flowers in your garden?

I have to admit the garden is beginning to feel like autumn is coming…I have a bunch of clean up to do around the various boxes but it is still too warm to do it in the afternoon. I like to go out early and get it done while everything is still in the shade. No hurry though. Autumn will be here before we know it (matter of days!).

I managed to squeeze in another Tuesday Garden Party entry this year….

 

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

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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.

Sparrow
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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Just a Few Backyard Birds…And a New Bird Resource

Are you ready for some more bird photos? I have been busy a little bit each day taking advantage of the dry weather to keep track of the backyard birds that visit.

Woodpecker 1 18 11

First up in my son’s camera is the Downy Woodpecker. He set up the camera on a tripod and we all watched until we saw the woodpecker visit the suet feeder. He was able to snap a few good shots as the bird ate a little lunch. This is a large and colorful bird that we always look forward to seeing in our backyard. Here is a LINK to what he sounds like.

Scrub jays

If you have read my blog with any frequency you know that we have an abundance of Western Scrub Jays in our backyard, even a nesting pair. They always seem to know when I put out their favorite treats….peanuts and walnuts.

White-breasted Nuthatch

We have a pair of White-breasted nuthatches that come every day to our backyard. They are so much fun to watch as they climb up and down the trunks of trees, occasionally stopping to look for insects in the bark.
Here is a LINK to a video showing how they climb.

Squirrel in birdfeeder

Oops! That is certainly not a bird! This fox squirrel is one of three that are daily in our birdfeeders. In fact, as I look out my window at this very moment there is one in the feeder that I can see. I have given up trying to keep them out of the feeders and I added one squirrel-proof feeder to another area just so the birds will still have a place to eat when the squirrels are in town.

I don’t think I have shared the link to a new bird related page that I wrote over on Squidoo. Hop over and maybe you will find some fresh ideas for your yard.

Tomorrow I will be posting the third challenges in the Winter and Winter Wednesday series. Don’t forget to link up your entries for the first two challenges since you are never late!

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Bird Week: Start of the Great Backyard Bird Count

This is our entry for the Outdoor Hour Challenge-Winter Series #7 Winter Birds.

Our official count for Friday, February 12th:
3 Western scrub jays
12 Juncos
2 Spotted towhees
4 White-crowned sparrows
1 Titmouse
6 House finches
1 California towhee (unusual since we always see them in pairs except for today)
5 House sparrows
1 Anna’s hummingbird
1 American robin
1 White-breasted nuthatch

White-breasted nuthatch 2
The white-breasted nuthatch is my favorite little bird right now. He is so acrobatic and he creeps up and down the trunks of trees. If you follow the link to All About Birds for the nuthatch, listen to the Pacific song and that is exactly what this bird sings to me just about every time I head outdoors.

We really enjoyed our counting of birds today since the sun was out and the air was warm. We have new binoculars for this year’s count and we all took a turn at scoping out the backyard feeders from the window. We were surprised to see the hummingbird, but it has not been totally unusual to see one or two at the feeder off and on all winter.

For the most part, all of these birds are permanent residents. The robin was singing so perhaps this is his home territory. We did not see our Nuttall’s woodpecker that comes to our feeder just about every day which is disappointing that we can’t count him in our tally. We will be counting again tomorrow so perhaps he will make an appearance then.

When were out for our walk today, Mr. A saw a red-tailed hawk. I saw two Canadian geese. They both are year round residents in our neighborhood.

This was a good bird day.

 

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Outdoor Hour Challenge-Birds: Woodpecker, Chickadee, Nuthatch and Towhee

Black and White Birds Nature study @handbookofnature

This week there are a lot of birds to choose from in your challenge. We have three of them that visit us in our yard at various times of the year so we have plenty of past experience with all but the chickadee.

Outdoor Hour Challenge
Birds #7 Black and White Birds

Downy woodpecker/Hairy Woodpecker and Chickadee
White-breasted nuthatch/Red-breasted nuthatch and
Spotted towhee/Eastern towhee

Inside Preparation Work:

1. Read in the Handbook of Nature Study

  • Pages 70-74 about the downy woodpecker (Note the illustration of the woodpecker’s feet.)
  • Pages 68-70 about the chickadee
  • Pages 65-68 for the white-breasted nuthatch


This is a great video showing chickadees and a downy woodpecker eating out of someone’s hand.

Amazing. I would love to be able to do this someday.

Additional downy woodpecker videos on Cornell’s website:
Downy Woodpecker


I also like this video of the spotted towhee because it shows the sort of scuffling behavior I see under our bird feeders. I have even seen some towhees scratch away a few inches of snow to get at the seeds on the ground underneath. It is an interesting behavior.

This video is sort of long but you get the idea after watching the first minute.

2. Read in the Handbook of Nature Study the section on bird’s feet, pages 40-42. You may also like to look up this website: Types of Bird Feet

“The feet of birds are shaped so as to assist the bird to get its food as well as for locomotion.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 41

Bird+Feet+Grid+and+Sketch+Notebook+Page.jpg

Download a copy of this Bird Feet Notebook Page to use with your family: Bird Feet.

3. Read in Backyard Birds pages 36-43 on black and white birds: woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, and towhees. Make sure to note each bird’s field marks and to practice making the bird call for each bird as well. You can follow the links above to All About Birds and click on the button to listen to a recording of each bird call. If you are keeping a list of bird calls (see challenge 5), you can add this week’s birds to your list.

4. Peterson Field Guide: Look up and read about the woodpecker, chickadee, nuthatch, and the towhee. The best way to learn to identify birds is to study about them ahead of time. You may not see any of this week’s challenge birds at this time, but you very well may do so in the future. Be prepared!

Outdoor Hour Time:
Spend a portion of your outdoor time this week looking for birds but if you are not successful, keep this challenge in mind as you go through your weekly activities. You might be surprised when and where you see your next bird. This week we will try to observe some birds and their feet. This might be a good week to visit a duck pond and observe a duck’s feet up close. For any birds you do observe during this challenge, remember to note the general shape of the bird, the size, the beak shape, and the habitat. These observations will all be helpful in learning the identity of the bird.

You could also plan a trip to a pet store that has a variety of birds to observe. Our local pet store has a parrot or two, some parakeets, doves, and usually some other kind of small bird. This would be a good way to compare the different feet and how they are designed to be used.

Follow Up Activity for the Woodpecker, Chickadee, Nuthatch, and the Towhee
Each of these birds uses its feet in a special way. Make a journal entry featuring each bird’s feet.

  • Downy woodpecker-clinging to a tree trunk
  • Chickadee-perching, clinging
  • Nuthatch-clinging to a tree trunk, creeping
  • Towhees-hopping and scratching

You will find a coloring pages for all the birds in this challenge in Cornell’s bird coloring book: Feeder Birds Coloring Book.

Follow Up Activity For Other Birds Observed:
If you are using the bird pages from Notebooking.com (shown below), you can complete a page for the feet of the bird. You can also use your Peterson Field Guide to help identify your bird.

Just for Fun: Play a game of Guess Who? One person picks a bird and then gives clues one at a time to see if the other person can figure out what bird they are describing. For instance for a chickadee you could list the following clues one at a time: Small round bird, black and white, short beak, acrobatic, eats seeds, flies fast, black cap.
Also I am highly recommending that you purchase the Bird Bundle from NotebookingPages.com 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

Use code discount5 to save $5 on any purchase $10 or more from the NotebookingPages.com Shop. (This does not include membership purchases.)

Learning About Birds 3D cover

I have written a whole series of bird related nature study challenges that go along with the Backyard Birds book. You will find the details here: Learning About Birds with the Outdoor Hour Challenge.

Make sure to scroll down on the page and find the link to the sample for this ebook.

You can find this book in both the Ultimate and Journey level memberships on the Handbook of Nature Study.

Please note we will be working through all of the Outdoor Hour Challenges in the Learning About Birds ebook starting on March 2, 2018. Make sure to subscribe to my blog to follow along with those bird-related nature study activities.

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Snowshoe Adventure: Tahoe Snowshoe Hare

This was an outdoor weekend spent in the Sierras. We spent an afternoon taking a hike on snowshoes. It looks really cold and dreary in this photo but it was really not all that cold…above freezing by a few degrees. I could have done with a few less layers. 🙂 I took off my gloves for awhile and that helped. Most people we saw on the trail were on cross country skis but we enjoyed the crunch, crunch , crunch of snowshoes. I was on the lookout for mammal tracks.

We saw lots of canine tracks beside the trail but as we worked our way up from the lake into the conifers, we were rewarded with these tracks.

In this area there were many little “rabbit trails” giving us a clue as to what sort of mammal was in the area. I came home and discovered that they are more than likely Tahoe Snowshoe Hare tracks. (Lepus americanus tahoensis) See snowshoe hare.

We are new to identifying tracks so if anyone thinks they are from a different animal, please leave me a comment.

Not only did we see some mammal tracks but we were treated to a “new to us” bird. The red-breasted nuthatch. He was seen clinging to the side of this pine, sticking his head into little holes looking for some bark insects. He moved easily in all directions while clinging to the bark. Amazing.


Red-breasted nuthatch

I was busy taking photos when a bunch of ducks flew into view. We saw them later eating some seeds that a fellow hiker had left along the shore. They were later joined by a few Canadian geese.

So I think we had a successful outing….we did manage to find some mammal tracks in the snow and that was our aim.

From the Handbook of Nature Study, page 217,
” An interesting relative of the cottontail is the varying hare or snow-show rabbit that lives in the wooded regions of north-eastern North America. Of all animals he is one of the most defenseless; foxes, mink, and other flesh-eating inhabitants of the woods find him an easy prey. He has not even a burrow to flee to when pursued by his enemies…..He has one important advantage over his enemies: twice each year his heavy coat of fur is shed. In the summer the coat is a reddish brown that so blends with his surroundings that he is hardly noticeable; in the winter it is perfectly white so that against a background of snow he is nearly invisible.”

Anna Botsford Comstock has included pages 215-219 with information on the cotton-tailed rabbit. I found these pages very useful in coming up with a way to study our snowshoe hare. Even though the information doesn’t completely apply to our hare, we can adapt her activities to our study.

Winter nature study at its best.