Sunday, February 24, 2013

Nature Study Goals for 2013

I really like Barb's idea to have goals for this years Nature Study. I feel a little overwhelmed with all my options since we are living in a new area with countless things to explore. I know we will do spontaneous Nature Study as we go along, but I also want to be purposeful. I am going to follow in Barb's footsteps and make a few goals for this year.

Our Nature Study Goals for 2013

1. Visit Rocky Mountain National Park in each season.
2. Learn about our local conifers.
3. Learn 5 new birds and draw them in our nature journals.
4. Observe a moose (from a safe distance!) and draw it in our journals.
5. Go on a rock hunt once the snow is melted.
6. Learn 3 new wildflowers and draw them in our journals.

Outdoor Hour Challenge- Birds!

I love birds! They are easy to attract and usually they are not too hard to identify. We first started watching birds as a family about 6 years ago. We simply hung a feeder where we could see it from our kitchen table. At that time we lived in the middle of a large city and we didn't get a great variety of birds, but we did have an occasional surprise. One day we came home to find an american kestrel trying to steal a baby bird from its nest, and another time we had a pair of monk parakeets land on our fence!

Later we moved to an area in rural Texas and discovered many more birds to our delight. Our favorite was the painted bunting, which was always exciting to see.

Just this past November we moved to Colorado and we have a whole new host of birds to learn. It has been very enjoyable to hear the boys call out, "Look, a new bird!"  So far we have identified a stellar jay, common redpolls, black-billed magpies, mountain chickadees, black capped chickadees, gray crowned rosy finches, and bald eagles. We do have a couple that we haven't identified yet.

Black Billed Magpie

Inspiration Corner

This month for the Outdoor Hour Challenge, I set up a little area with some of our bird books just to give us a reminder of what we are focusing on. My youngest really loves to read, Bird Talk over and over again. We have had the most success in bird watching right in our backyard. We are attracting mostly redpolls and chickadees. Many days we do have a huge flock of gray crowned rosy finches that fly in all at once and then rush off just as quickly.

Gray Crowned Rosy Finches

Last week I thought we would take a trail walk and listen for birds and see if we could see any that were not frequenting our feeder. But to our surprise we didn't see or hear one single bird!! The only thing we heard was crunching snow.

We did find tracks in the snow that we are going to have to identify.

What are these?

 Bald Eagles

A few days later, to our delight, we saw two bald eagles in a tree as we were driving down the highway. We pulled over and I tried to get a picture with my phone. The pictures are not so great, but at least we got a good enough shot that we can copy it into our journals if we want.

Speaking of journals, here is a sample from one of the boys who enjoys drawing birds.

 The boys keep a life list in the Kids Bird Log that Barb mentioned on her blog, Handbook of Nature Study, and I keep my own list in my nature journal. Birdwatching is something everyone in the family can enjoy and it is something you can do wherever you are. We are looking forward to spring to see what new feathered friends we can attract to our feeder.