Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Nature Study: It's For the Birds!

Nature Study: It’s for the Birds!

One of the key facets of the Charlotte Mason approach to education is nature study, and certainly one of the most fascinating aspects of this is learning about birds!

I love to read books about birds to my kids, and browse through field guides to see the variety of species.

We should take a field trip to our local Audubon Center for Birds of Prey soon.

Fortunately for busy home school moms, there is an easy to use resource for teaching your elementary age children all about them. Our home school co-op’s 5th-6th grade science class has been using Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day, which also explores the wonderful world of insects and bats.  (Five of the 12 lessons are on birds.)   I like the specific information she gives, such as her explanation of how the male mallefowl keeps the eggs in the nest mound at just the right temperature using its built-in tongue thermometer to determine whether to cover it with more or less sand and rotting plants.  Then, when the chiecks hatch, they have to spend about 15 hours digging out! Wow!  Or how about the albatross, which has an 11 foot sing span and can glide on guests of wind for days at a time?
 Like Fulbright’s other science books (Botany, Astronomy, Land Animals, and Swimming Creatures), the Flying Creatures book combines solid content (complete text, photos, diagrams), hands-on activities, and note booking. You can either purchase pre-printed Notebooking Journals for each of these courses, or download them for free from her web site,

My son Micah has particularly enjoyed the bird studies this year. As part of his homework assignments, he has made a bird booklet by downloading pictures from the web and writing about each species.

He has also enthusiastically drawn pictures of birds, and more recently, taken dozens of pictures of ones found near our home (see below). I can tell this is somewhat of a passion for him and that makes me as happy as a lark!

One of Micah’s favorite bird web sites is the one by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology,, which is full of pictures, textual information, audio clips, and video. One of the pages on this site has bird sketches by Catherine Hamilton.

These are some of the bird photographs which my sons Micah, Ben, and Andrew have taken in the past week or so.

Red-Tailed Hawk

The mockingbird is our Florida state bird.


Some sort of yellow bird -- yet to be identified!

Male cardinal

The next several photos are of white ibises
that sometimes visit our neighborhood. 
Micah, who took all but one of these pictures, 
identified them using the web site

Ben, who is 7, took the next one.

A red headed woodpecker, added on March 27.

Then there are birds that you don't find just strutting around your neighborhood.... 

Andrew took this one of a family of sandhill cranes while he and Dad were on a camp out with friends at Moss Park near Orlando.

Micah took these -- a sea gull and a chick -- at New Smyrna Beach on April 1.

And don't forget Bible birds!

Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young, at your altars,
O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house,
ever singing your praise! Psalm 84:3-4

Look at the birds of the air:
they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns,
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not of more value than they?
And which of you by being anxious
can add a single hour to his span of life?
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 6:26-27, 33

Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:30-31


  1. The one you call a red-headed woodpecker is actually a red bellied woodpecker, even though the red head is what you notice. The belly is usually a blush color. Grandma

  2. Thanks for the correction, Mom! I'm sure Micah gets a lot of his bird loving from you!

  3. Excellent post! Great resources, practical suggestions!


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