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Black and White Birds: Our Family’s Outdoor Hour Challenge

Outdoor Hour challenge Black and White birds @handbookofnaturestudy

We were hoping to observe some birds from this challenge but we never had an opportunity come up. We will have our eyes out for a woodpecker, a nuthatch, and a towhee. We have heard plenty of woodpeckers and towhees out in the woods as we walk, but they never come close by and let us have a good look for this challenge.

Spotted Towhee

We have seen some birds to note here on the blog. We saw our very first ever grouse when we were out today. After our encounter with the sound of the grouse at Yosemite last month, we were prepared when we saw a grouse here locally. I did not have my camera so there is no photo but here is a link to the kind of grouse that we saw:

We also saw a group of Canada Goose this past weekend. I think they sort of qualify as black and white birds. Don’t you?

We also saw these ducks.

In the Handbook of Nature Study it says to study the goose and the duck and compare them. The questions in the lesson have you comparing different features of the duck and the goose like their beaks and feet.

We made a journal entry showing different kinds of bird feet. This was an interesting sketching assignment and we had to work carefully from the images on this website: Bird Feet.

Although we didn’t see any woodpeckers, we did see evidence that there are some nearby.

This is a tree that the acorn woodpeckers have made holes in the bark and then stuffed acorns in for future meals. Here is a better look at the acorns.

Amazing that they make the holes just the right size.

This is what the AllAboutBirds website says about the Acorn woodpecker.
“All members of an Acorn Woodpecker group spend large amounts of time storing acorns. Acorns typically are stored in holes drilled into a single tree, called a granary tree. One granary tree may have up to 50,000 holes in it, each of which is filled with an acorn in autumn.”

We come across these granary trees quite frequently in our area.

Here is a photo of a white-headed woodpecker that I took last summer at Yosemite.

He was not shy and we had a great time watching him work.

Although we were not successful in spotting this challenge’s birds, we did take quite a bit of time to look for, listen to, and learn about the birds in the challenge.

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Cones and More Cones and a Woodpecker

Cones and a new woodpecker!

This White-headed Woodpecker was busy, busy, busy. We had a great time watching him climb down and around this pine. It turns out he eats pine cones as well….learned something new.

This week’s Winter Wednesday study was about trees, evergreens, and cones. We live in a mixed forest area with oaks and pines so we have quite a few opportunities to study cones as a part of our everyday activities.

We were on the lookout for different cones as we took our walk in a different habitat that I posted more about here in this entry, Another Glorious Winter Walk. I commented in that entry about the way we have come to appreciate that the cones fall and are available in great numbers during this snowy, cold part of the year. There are birds and mammals that are still active during this season and they use these cones as the staple of their diet. What a great design by a loving Creator.

Here are two new to us cones that we gathered on this particular walk.

We are familiar with larger cones but these were ones we haven’t noticed before. We think the bigger one is from a White Fir but we have no idea what the other one is at all.

The cone below comes from our regular hiking spot and we see them in great numbers. We think the cone is from a Douglas Fir.

We are going to keep track of our collection in our nature journals and write about each one as we find it.

The top right cone is from our Giant Sequoia in our backyard.

We all have a better appreciation for the role that cones play not only in the life cycle of the tree but also as a vital part of the food web in our forests.

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Yosemite Birds: Photos and Notebook Page

Lest you think that all I took photos of on my Yosemite trip were wildflowers, here are some bird photos. You will also note that these are not my typical “pretty” photos….birds are hard to photograph and they just don’t come close enough for my little camera.

I love to watch for birds in the early morning. The meadow near our campsite was a perfect birding site and I was up early each morning to see what I could find. The first photo is of a white-headed woodpecker and the second photo is a brown creeper.

These are both new birds to add to my life list of birds seen and identified. That is always exciting.

There is a section in the Handbook of Nature Study on different woodpeckers on pages 70-77. You might enjoy reading about the woodpecker in preparation of your next encounter.

Something else interesting is that I found a feather from a Steller’s jayand when I compared it to my Scrub jay feather that is already in my collection, I found out how different the feathers are colored. Both birds are very similar in color and shape but the patterns of color are very different. Here you can see it clearly. The Scrub Jay is on the left and the Steller’s Jay is on the right. There is a section in the Handbook of Nature Study specifically on bird feathers starting on page 29. We found it very interesting to read about the various purposes of feathers and the various kinds of feathers.

Here is a scan of one of my bird nature journal pages that I made during our trip. Nothing fancy but still a really good reminder in my nature journal of the day we saw this woodpecker. You can find the notebook page on my Freebies page.

Hope you enjoyed a little bird stuff today. I still have insects to share and a really big entry with wildflowers. I am trying to decide whether to make a slideshow of the flowers or just share a few of the over forty flowers I took photos of.