Our family has become a family of backyard bird watchers. We started simply enough. A few years ago during a week of bird study, we set up a couple of feeders just off our back patio. In no time at all, we had many different kinds of birds in our backyard. This year, we added a few more feeders and a couple of birdhouses.
We have birds that come every day all year long like sparrows, cardinals, and finches. We also have birds that come at certain times of the year, like bluebirds and swallows. We have a few that only make an appearance in our backyard once in a while, like Carolina chickadees and nuthatches.
Our love for and knowledge of birds has been growing and growing quite naturally. When we see a new bird, we first take the time to watch it for a while. It is amazing how much you learn about birds just by watching their behavior. Then, we grab our bird field guide and try to identify it. Once we know what kind of bird it is, we might read a little more about it from the field guide. We keep track of all the birds we have seen and when we first see them on a calendar in our nature journals. When we are able, we record the new bird in our nature journal by drawing and coloring it or painting it with watercolors.
We have spent many beautiful moments watching the birds together. We eagerly watched as the mother and father bluebirds took turns leaving their house and returning with little bits of grass in their beaks to build their nest. And then, weeks later, doing the same turn taking, only this time they returned with food in their beaks for their babies. We have even seen the babies learn to fly while their mom and dad stay close and seem to cheer them on. We have spent time sitting on a blanket in the grass while the tree swallows swoop around above our heads. They glide and dive to and fro with such ease and grace. We also noticed that when they are perched, their throats wobble in and out as they sing their happy little songs. It sounds just like gurgling water.
Many of the birds have become so familiar to us, they are like friends we look forward to seeing each day. We have given some of them special names like "Mr. Cardinal". Even Ava, our 2 year old, can identify many of them. Just the other day, she saw a cardinal at our feeder and said, "Look a cardinal! Let's get the book and find him!" Then she ran to the bookshelf, grabbed the field guide and began flipping through it. After a minute of not finding the cardinal page, she said, "Let's look in the index." She went to the back of the field guide and began running her finger over the words in the index.
Our love of birds has prompted us to start collecting bird feathers. Right now we are keeping a jar full of the feathers we find at the nature table. They are so pretty. Our love of birds has also led us to planning a future garden that will help feed them and maybe even attract more. We hope to add more sunflowers and other plants that produce seeds the birds will love. We also want to put in more bushes with berries for the birds. This is one of our most highly anticipated projects to come.
This kind of bird study that I have been writing about so far, really happens all year long. However, we do set aside a week or two every year, during the spring, to celebrate birds with stories, poems, songs, art, and handicrafts.
Bird Themed Food: