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Autumn Birds and Project Feederwatch

Autumn Birds and Project Feederwatch

It’s that time of year again when we can start preparing to join the Project Feederwatch program along with many, many other families around North America. I just looked up my data on the website and it says that I’ve participated in the Feederwatch counts for 10 years! It’s an activity that has helped me learn more about my local birds in a way that is fun and useful to the community.

Mockingbird Dece 2015

What is Project Feederwatch? You can read more on their website here: Project Feederwatch 2021-2022. This year the counting season starts on November 13, 2021 and ends on April 30, 2022.

Project Feederwatch tally sheet

You can participate as much or as little as you desire. It only takes a few minutes on two consecutive days each week to participate. If you miss a week, that’s okay too…just pick up when you can.

Watch a video on how to get started.

The additional video below shows how this really is something everyone can participate in, even with young children.

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I love weaving a citizen science project like this into our lives. We have several feeders we can see from our windows and keeping them filled with seed is easy. Those feeders become the focal point of our bird observations because for Feederwatch you only count birds that come to eat.

chickadee at the feeder

Project Feederwatch is a perfect match for our lifestyle. It’s something that I can participate in that doesn’t take a huge commitment of time and I can do it right from my own home, even if I’m wearing my pajamas.

You may be interested in following my Nature Study – Birds Pinterest board!

Learning About Birds 3D coverDon’t forget about the Outdoor Hour Challenge – Learning About Birds ebook that is available to both Ultimate and Journey level members.

 

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Nature Goals 2021: 1st Quarter Update

Nature Goals 2021

1st Quarter Update

Nature Study Goals 2021

In the original 2021 nature goals entry, I talked a lot about the process of making goals and then refining goals as you saw the need. Here were the steps:

  • Be flexible.
  • Review your goals periodically.
  • Break larger goals into smaller steps.
  • Make a reasonable list.
  • Create achievable goals.

If you’d like to read the complete entry with all of the suggestions, you can click here: Nature Study Goals 2021.

One way that I review my goals and how I’m doing, is to reflect back at the end of each quarter to see how things are going. You can read the goals for the year in the entry linked above. I will give you a little update for each goal below.

garden prep april 2021
We have cleaned up the boxes and made sure the drip watering system is ready to go for seed sowing. Probably going to wait until May 1st to get seeds started.

Backyard Habitat development:  We just started working in the garden in the past few weeks. But, I have on paper a lot of ideas we want to implement this year. For the first quarter we made plans, ordered seeds, and spent time observing what was already working as far as supporting the local wildlife. This quarter will be the heavy lifting aspects of creating more wildlife friendly habitat. If this is something you are interested in doing for your family, you can read my entry: Creating a Wildlife Habitat in Your Own Backyard.

Painted Hills March 2021
Look for an entry in May that reveals our day trip to the Painted Hills.

Local Hikes: We found new places to hike even in the winter as part of this local hikes goal. There are several places along the Deschutes River that are accessible to hiking in the winter. We chose sunny days to explore Sawyer Park and Steelhead Falls. We drove out to the Painted Hills for a day hike with some of the kids. I’m saying this quarter went better than expected and I’m eager to do some spring hiking here in Central Oregon.

Make notes in field guides: I’m keeping up the habit of making notes in my field guides as we identify new species of birds, animals, and plants.

crossbills february 2021
Our unexpected visitors! We had a group of crossbills come through on a Feederwatch count day.

Project Feederwatch and Great Backyard Bird Count: The Feederwatch project is coming to a close here at the end of April. We’ve only missed a couple of weeks of counting and it has helped us be aware of the comings and goings of the birds at our feeders. The GBBC was another enjoyable experience as we took part in the worldwide bird count. I’ll be posting about the particulars soon!

Go camping: We didn’t make it out camping in the first quarter. But, we have several trips planned for the spring season and one for the summer.

succulents april 2021

Learn about succulents: I spent some time reading books about succulents over the quarter. Our library has quite a few to choose from since succulents are a big part of the landscaping here in Central Oregon. I went out yesterday and looked at the ones we have in our yard and they are all looking mighty healthy. I noticed new growth and spreading for many of them. I will continue to work on my knowledge as we get into our real growing season.

I did a pretty good job of keeping all my goals in mind this quarter. Now, I just need to keep it going.

Have you created nature study goals for your family?

Could you use some help in keeping nature study a regular part of your week?

You can join as an Ultimate Naturalist Library member and immediately have access to hundreds of nature study ideas and printables.

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020

Click the graphic above to see the complete benefits of a membership. Join and make 2021 the best year of nature study ever for your family!

Use the discount code NATURE5 for $5 off an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership!

 

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Final Nature Goal Update for 2018

2018 Nature Study Goals @handbookofnaturestudy

4th Quarter Updates – Including Our Amazing North American Beaver

The winter season is upon us as well as the end of another calendar year. I won’t lie. I am so ready for the change. Since the middle of October, I have been sitting and gazing out the window for the most part. After a bilateral hip replacement, for weeks I couldn’t even get in my car because my legs hardly bent.

walking to the river in the snow

Thankfully, the view out my window is never boring and it’s constantly changing, providing endless delight with its animals, birds, clouds, and landscape view of the mountains. But, I watch my husband as he hikes to the river each day with our dog and I’m so ready to be out there with them! I’m learning patience.

Now, as I’m writing this update, I’m a little more mobile and starting to use a cane. The trouble is the weather has descended upon us and many days the snow and icy pavement make it a challenge to walk even with help.

Being confined indoors and doing a lot of sitting was conducive to making plans and thinking of future nature study projects. I made lists of new printable notebook pages for 2019 and planned out six new ebooks full of exciting nature study topics. I’m also reading lots of nature related books and field guides. My own nature journal has received a lot of attention as I keep notes of animals we capture on our critter cam and I catch up on things I’ve wanted to learn about from previous adventures. In the end, I’m making good use of my down time as I recover from this major surgery.

Dreaming of the new trails I will explore with new hips and no pain.

 

Now for the results of my 4th quarter goals-

Nature Observer guided journal 2018 collage

Finish up the year in my Nature Observer Guided Journal.

Successfully stuck with this journal all year! I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed this project. This pre-planned journal provided just the motivation I needed to keep a regular, almost daily, record of our nature experiences. It has inspired me to continue this routine and even improve on it with some ideas I thought of as I worked through the suggested activities.

This is the nature journal I used for the 2018 year and LOVED it! Please know this is an Amazon affiliate link to a book I purchased and used and love and highly recommend.


Project Feederwatch 2018 tally in Nature ObserverParticipate in Project Feederwatch.

Accomplished this!  Counting birds is just a given in our weekly routine. 10 species so far, 50 total birds counted.
barb at the river for the first time dec 2018
Walk as much as possible, allowing for healing from my hip surgery.

Accomplished! I’m back at my daily walking, even if it’s just down the driveway to look at the trees and birds. I’ve made it out the back gate a couple times, but the frozen snow and ground are a little bit difficult for me still. It will be a joy to walk freely and I’m starting to see the end of this challenging recovery.

Read at least two nature related books from my personal library.

Accomplished! I’ve been reading so much! I pulled lots more books off my own book shelves and ordered up loads of books from my local public library. I rarely get the chance to just sit and read so what a pleasure it has been to stick my nose in a book.

beavers at the river nov 2018
The most exciting nature find of the year happened during this last quarter of 2018. We finally captured a video of the beaver we’ve been chasing since last year. We used my critter cam and put it down by the river where we noticed they were gnawing on a tree. Then, after it was down on the ground, we were able to position the camera between the river and the tree. At last! We not only saw one beaver but two working together to take the limbs off the tree and then drag them down into the water. What an awesome experience!

It’s been a wonderful year of nature study for me personally. As always, I’m looking forward to setting and working on new goals in 2019.

Nature Study Goals 2019 Planning Page

Would you like to join me? I’ve created a planning sheet for you to use as you create your nature study goals. Please feel free to print and share as much as you like. If you post your goals somewhere on the internet, send me the link and I will pop over and read your thoughts!

Nature Study Goals 2019 Planning Page

Thanks for your support of all I do here on the Handbook of Nature Study!

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Our Family Autumn Bird Study

 

October 2018 chalkboard bird list
Excited to have so many birds in October!

In our continuing effort to learn the bird migration patterns in our new habitat, our dining room chalkboard list of monthly birds is a valuable tool. It creates a simple record of birds that visit our feeders, our yard, and fly by our back windows. I copy the list into my nature journal at the end of the month so we’ll be able to see from year to year the birds that come and go throughout the seasons.

meadowlark nature journal page

There was a new bird this month! The western meadowlark became my autumn bird study. I was really glad it appeared before I had my hip surgery so I could go outside and try to take a photo. Even though I wasn’t successful at getting an image, I did get a good look at the meadowlark and its behavior. I used AllAboutBirds.com to research this beautiful bird along with my Peterson field guide. These two sources gave me enough information to create a good nature journal entry. I hope to someday hear this songbird singing…perhaps this spring.

 

Project Feederwatch Nature Journal
Nature journal page from 2017 Project Feederwatch

November 10, 2018 is the first day we can start counting birds that visit our feeders as part of the Project Feederwatch citizen science opportunity. Click over to read more about this important and simple activity for families: Project Feederwatch.

You can read our November 2017 entry here: Project Feederwatch November 2017.

 Project Feederwatch button

This is a perfect way to start or continue an autumn bird nature study with your family even if you don’t know the identity of all the birds that come to your yard. This project will help you learn as you go. Click the logo above for a video that explains how to participate.

 

How did your autumn bird study go this time around?

 Autumn Bird Study @handbookofnaturestudy

 

It’s not too late to do your own Autumn Bird Study!

 Outdoor Hour Challenge Bird Nature Study Index of Challenges @handbookofnaturestudy

Are you interested in seeing my picks for bird related books and field guides? Click over to my bird tab on the website.

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Project Feederwatch – November 2017

Project Feederwatch – November 2017

 

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the start of Feederwatch season here in my new habitat of Central Oregon. Our new yard has been a challenge of sorts for hanging bird feeders because of the other critters that have decided to partake of the seeds and suet. It was a mystery to me how I could fill up my rather large feeder late in the afternoon and then awake in the morning to a completely empty feeder! I didn’t realize how fast the deer could drain the feeder.

squirrel in the feeder

Then there are the squirrels that just help themselves.

My husband came to my rescue by fabricating rather tall poles for the feeders to hang on and so far this has solved my problems!

So what is our setup?

I have three different feeding stations, one in the front yard and two in the backyard.

The front yard feeder seems to attract the little birds like chickadees and nuthatches. I read somewhere that when the temperatures drop the birds like a suet feeder, so I added that when I took down our hummingbird feeder. There is still a bird bath but I’m not sure how I’m going to keep it from freezing. I saw at the Wild Bird store you can buy a little heater so if it’s within my budget, I will get one the next time I’m there.

Suet and Seed feeder

Closer to the house in the backyard, I’ve hung a new suet feeder and a new cylinder seed feeder. I haven’t observed many birds at the new style of feeder so I’m wondering about location. We may move the feeder back to the fence line closer to the trees if we don’t start to see the bird traffic to the feeder increase.

Feeders in the snow

This is where all the action happens! We see lots of birds at this feeding station, both at the feeders and under the feeders. I have mostly black sunflower seeds in the hopper feeder and I rotate the variety of suet I use in the suet feeder.

Here are our Project Feederwatch results from our first count:

Scrub Jay -2

Mourning dove -3

Chickadee -5

Junco -5

Varied thrush -2

Red breasted nuthatch -2

Hairy woodpecker -1

Spotted towhee – 1

House finches – 6

Pine Siskin -1

 

In addition, we heard and then observed a Red-tail hawk in one of the pines in back of the house and two ravens flying overhead. They don’t officially make the Project Feederwatch list since they were not in the feeder, but I made a note of their appearances in my records.

I will be posting monthly Project Feederwatch data as the season continues.

Learning About Birds 3D cover

 

Don’t forget about the Outdoor Hour Challenge – Learning About Birds ebook that is available to both Ultimate and Journey level members.

Learning About Birds ebook Bird List @handbookofnaturestudy

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Bird Migration and Feederwatch

nesting box

I am fascinated by birds that migrate. It makes me feel an awe for such creatures and the way they travel up to thousands of miles as the seasons change. When I lived in California, I was aware of birds and the way they would come and go at my feeders season by season. I could anticipate their arrival and then have a fairly good idea of who would be leaving at the turn of the weather. Project Feederwatch each year made me keenly aware that the birds at my feeders were not the same year round.

thistle feeder

I am getting ready to participate in my first year of Project Feederwatch here in my new home. I have updated my account and created a new description of the feeders and their locations and types. Watching birds is an everyday affair here from my kitchen and family room windows so Project Feederwatch is a perfect match for our lifestyle. I enjoy participating in a citizen science project that helps gather data for those involved in various bird science projects and studies. Plus, it is something that refreshes me and brings a lot of joy to my life. It is something that I can participate in that doesn’t take a huge commitment of time and I can do it right from my own home, even if I am wearing my pajamas.

snag pile for shelter

This is our first autumn and winter here in our new home so we are still experimenting with various feeder types and the placement within the yard. I had an idea to add a brush pile just outside our back fence after we trimmed some tree limbs. So far I have observed birds and squirrels investigating the jumble of limbs with their needles and cones still intact. It isn’t too far from my cluster of feeders so it will provide some shelter for birds once the snow arrives.

bluejay figurine

I started right after we moved in creating a list of bird visitors to our yard. I will be keeping that habit going right on through the next few seasons. This should give us a pretty good idea of the migrant visitors as they pass through or stay for awhile. This is a simple way to get your family started with a more in-depth bird study and I encourage you to keep track of the birds that come to your feeders.

sandhill crane bird

We recently had the experience of hearing and then seeing a group of sandhill cranes fly over our yard. It was about sunset when my son and I were out doing yardwork. I heard in the distance what at first I thought were geese coming overhead. But, it was a strange and unfamiliar sound and not geese at all. (Click over to AllAboutBirds to hear what it sounded like.) My son spoke up when he realized it was the sound of sandhill cranes. He had heard them before when we lived in California and immediately recognized the rattling loud commotion of a group of cranes flying south over our house. It was exciting to experience this for the first time and I have since done some research into the migration habits of the sandhill crane. Knowing how far they fly has given me such an awe for these large birds. I just created a page in my nature journal with this information and I will share the page next week in an entry.

The opportunity to study birds can present itself when you least expect it…look for those opportunities!

Make sure to learn about the Feederwatch program and decide if it is a good fit for your family!

 

Project Feederwatch button

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 homeschooling resources here.
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.

Learning About Birds 3D cover

I invite you to check out my Learning About Birds ebook available to Ultimate and Journey level members here on the Handbook of Nature Study.

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Outdoor Mom’s Journal – December

Outdoor Moms Journal Nov and Dec 2016 @handbookofnaturestudy

Where has the time gone? I was looking back in preparation for writing this entry and realized I never did a November installment of the Outdoor Mom. It certainly wasn’t because I haven’t been outdoors! Our November and so far this December have still been very conducive weather-wise for getting outdoors and exploring.

Red leaves and blue skyOne thing that may have interfered with writing it all up for the blog is the fact that we have been doing some renovations on our home…kitchen and master bath mostly. But, now we are mostly done with that and I can turn my attention back towards sharing our outdoor exploring. (I already posted about our 3 Questions Nature Walk if you are interested in reading that entry.)

Winter Berries collage

If you follow me on Instagram, you have probably noticed our weekly hikes and my images of things right in my own yard. I rarely stay indoors all day no matter the weather. The one thing about this particular time of year is that any color really pops out at you as you venture out and this collage of berries images illustrates this well. Don’t forget…berries attract birds so watch for birds wherever you find shrubs with colorful berries!

Stellers Jay in the feeder
I snapped this image of the Steller’s jay in my feeder. He was swinging around on it so it was hard to get a clear image but you can see his brilliantly blue feathers in this one.

I also started the Project Feederwatch counting in November. This is my sixth season of counting birds for this citizen science project and each year it brings such joy to my heart as I anticipate the arrival and sojourn of so many beautiful birds. This is a way I can give back to the birding community there at Cornell University. My life is better because they share their knowledge and experience with me via the internet.

Would you like to see my list of birds? Here you go! These are the high counts for each bird and we certainly don’t see these all in one day at our feeders but the count has taken place since 11/18/16 so that would account for the variety of birds on the list.

Pigeon – 5
Mourning dove – 2
Anna’s hummingbird – 2
Northern flicker – 5
Black phoebe- 1
California scrub jay (new name!) – 2
Oak titmouse – 2
Western bluebird -6
Northern mockingbird- 1
European starling -6
Cedar waxwing -25
Dark eyed junco -9
White crowned sparrow -6
Spotted towhee -3
House finch -5
American goldfinch -2
Steller’s jay – 1
White breasted nuthatch – 2
Bewick’s wren – 1

 Project Feederwatch button

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 homeschooling resources here.
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.
So what have you been up to this month? Join me here by commenting or leaving me a link to your blog entry.

 buckeye in autumn

Outdoor Mom’s Journal

Whether your family spends a few minutes a week outside or hours at a time, share what is going on in your world.

How Do You Join?

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 week 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….
  • I am reading…
  • I am dreaming about…
  • A photo I would like to share…

 

Outdoor Hour Challenge Plans for Sept 16 to March 17 @handbookofnaturestudy

You can use the free monthly newsletter along with the Handbook of Nature Study book for your nature study. Adding a membership gives you access to the Ultimate Naturalist Library’s ebooks and printablse which provides members with even more in-depth studies each month.

Read more about it!

Birds of North America Notebooking PagesBirds of the World Notebooking PagesBirds - Basic Study Pages

These are affiliate links to products I have used and love.

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Backyard Birds – November and December

 

I am thoroughly enjoying my Project Feederwatch counting this year…we added a few new feeders that are closer to my viewing window and that makes counting super easy. Even watching our “ordinary” birds gives me such pleasure. Here are some images from my counting days of my fine feathered friends.

Finches in Feeder December 2015

Finches!

Mockingbird Dece 2015

Loving our mockingbird and watching him visit every morning to a particular tree and then to a blackberry vine in the corner of our yard…always sitting at the top.

White Crowned Sparrow December 2015

I caught this sparrow with his mouth full of seed. Love his feet too!

Woodpecker December 2015

This is one of the woodpeckers that visit our feeders and trees just about every day now. They aren’t very big but they are beautiful birds.

 Here is my list of birds that have come to visit during the months of November and December.

November and December Bird Lists

  • White-crowned sparrow
  • Dark-eyed junco
  • House finch
  • White-breasted nuthatch
  • Western scrub jay
  • Anna’s hummingbird
  • Spotted towhee
  • Northern mockingbird
  • Evening grosbeak
  • American robin
  • Mourning dove
  • Nuttall’s woodpecker
  • Lesser goldfinch
  • Titmouse
  • Northern flicker
  • European starlings
  • California towhee
  • Bewick’s wren
  • Fox sparrow

 

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What birds did you see this month?

 

Birds of North America Notebooking PagesBirds of the World Notebooking PagesBirds - Basic Study Pages

These are affiliate links to products I have used and love.

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Great Backyard Bird Count – 2014 Results

 

Our winter bird study happens every week with Project Feederwatch, observing birds in our own yard for a few minutes at a time. We also participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count in February. Both citizen science projects are super easy to complete. Even when we first started counting birds, back when we couldn’t name every bird, we felt a sense of joy at awakening our admiration for birds.

This year our list was much smaller than previous years. We are guessing it is the weather we have been experiencing with much warmer and sunny days, very little rain. I am assuming this is valuable information to share with the scientists at the GBBC as they process the data and see where birds are in 2014 during the count.

Here is our official list for the Great Backyard Bird Count:

  • Nuttall’s woodpecker – 1
  • Anna’s hummingbird – 1
  • Titmouse – 1
  • Western scrub jay – 1
  • American goldfinch – 2
  • House finch – 10
  • Dark-eyed Junco 6
  • House sparrow – 4
  • White-crowned sparrow – 4

Other birds seen in February 2014:

  • Spotted towhee
  • White-breasted nuthatch
  • Acorn woodpecker
  • Fox sparrow
  • California towhee

We have a new bird that visits under our birdfeeder which is exciting. It is a Fox sparrow (sooty). I have yet to get a really good photo of him but I will keep trying. This is the type of bird that has flown into my window twice now. They are such pretty birds and it makes me sad to see them perish in such an undignified way.

I am also working on my Nature Study Goals for 2014 and trying to add some of my newer bird discoveries to my nature journal. Here is my Bewick’s wren entry…not very original but it works. Drawing birds is a challenge for me but I think this one turned out decently. I haven’t seen this particular wren in weeks but I am keeping my eye out to see when it returns to our yard.

Last summer we added a new suet feeder to the yard and it has now become a favorite of the Acorn woodpecker. He comes just about every day to eat and I enjoy watching him with all his colorful glory. I will keep it stocked with suet and see if he becomes a year-round resident.

March is the last month of Project Feederwatch for the season. I am always sad to see it go but I keep an informal record of the birds seen at our feeders just about year-round. It brings me such joy!

Nature Study Bundle Button

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December Nature Study Wrap-Up

Our December was filled with birdwatching. We had some exciting new birds and lots of old favorites.

Here is my list and then a few photos:
December 2013

  1. Anna’s hummingbird
  2. White-breasted nuthatch
  3. Western scrub jay
  4. Oak titmouse
  5. House finch
  6. House sparrow
  7. White-crowned sparrow
  8. California towhee
  9. Spotted towhee
  10. Junco
  11. Bewick’s wren
  12. American goldfinch
  13. Lesser goldfinch
  14. Mockingbird
  15. Northern flicker
  16. House wren
  17. Nuttall’s woodpecker
  18. Mourning dove
  19. European starlings
  20. Hermit thrush
  21. California quail – heard but didn’t see
Spotted towhee
Junco
House finch
Thinking this is a Hermit thrush-first time we have seen this and only in the snow.
Bewick’s wren
Anna’s hummingbird – at least three still at our feeders in December

Now a little something to inspire you…

I also finished my December nature journal entry for the extraordinary in the ordinary and December Grid Study. I cut some of the squares from the grid and then used them on my journal page. This is a quick and easy way to create a record of a variety of nature observations in a month.

We are definitely building a snowman birdfeeder again…it was so much fun for us and for the birds!