Saturday, October 9, 2010

Outdoor Hour Challenge - Bird Study

MT found a feather!
I am joining an Outdoor Hour Challenge from the Handbook of Nature Study blog. This time we are studying birds. The original challenge was to compare a duck and a goose. I was a bit intimidated by this, because we do not have wild ducks or geese in our area this time of year. I checked with my brother and was told that not only will it be another month before they begin to fly over, but we are not on a major flight path, so they will be scarce even then. Discouraged, we attempted a trip to the zoo – but that didn’t work out. I was considering giving up, when FRitW called me to the front steps one afternoon to point out a female Cardinal searching for food on the ground in the little copse of trees right in front of our house.

Brilliant Idea!!! I remembered that the Challenge post stated that you could do the study with whatever local birds you can find.

So, we set up five chairs near the bird feeder, which is also next to the copse of trees, passed out crayons, pencils, and paper to sketch our birds. I read to them about Cardinals and Chickadees from The Handbook of Nature Study and we watched. We saw several birds, Black-Capped Chickadees, a female Cardinal, and one I didn’t recognize. Maggie said it was a Titmouse and when we looked it up it appears to be a Tufted Titmouse.

FRitW sketched the Titmouse and Maggie did sketches of each bird. MT enjoyed drawing with an orange crayon because that is his favorite color. We all learned some new facts about these birds. We concentrated on comparing the Chickadee and the Cardinal.

Black Capped Chickadee:

Notes from The Handbook of Nature Study:
  • They eat insect eggs, caterpillars, and some insects.
  • They hang upside down from the branch to search for insect eggs attached to the bottom of the branch.
  • They can be very friendly.

Our observations:
  • They wait in line in the tree branch to eat at the feeder.
  • They enjoy tapping on the glass as though it will bring more seed.
  • They leave the feeder when a Titmouse approaches.
  • They are very noisy – they love to chatter and chirp!

Northern Cardinal:

Notes form The Handbook of Nature Study:
  • They are seed eaters.
  • The male will stay with the “toddlers” while the female sets a second clutch of eggs. Other than that they usually do not stay in groups.

Our observations:
  • The females often dig in the dry leaves for seeds. You can hear little noises in the trees as soon as you step outside, but their coloring is perfect for hiding, so you have to look very hard to see them on the ground.
  • They are more polite than the Titmouse and will sit back and wait for birds to leave the feeder before they approach. (because of that, we couldn’t get any photos of them yesterday!)

We have come to recognize the Cardinal’s voice, but paid special attention to the Chickadee. Later we went to and and listened to the sounds of the Chickadee and the Titmouse. This is a great way to begin to identify your backyard birds by sound.

The next challenge is Horses! We will be heading to Papa's & Mimi’s house for exploration of this one. Take some time to get outside this week and see what is around you!



Edwena said...

Great way to be flexible!!! We have found no geese here either as of yet. Most say it'll be a couple more weeks. We did our study, but I haven't done a blog post yet.

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mimi said...

When they ask for monarch butterflies, I have seen several eating my milkweed plant and drinking nectar from my butterfly plant and mexican petunias, which are about 3 foot tall plants. I think thre's a heron and maybe some ducks stopping at my big pond, but have not been able to get down there to be sure. love, mimi