Nature Study – Birds
Welcome to my 10 Days Series on the topic of nature study! Each of the ten days brings you a creative nature walk idea and a fun follow-up activity to spark your enthusiasm for nature study today!
Why study nature?
The answer is more serious than you might think.
Today’s nature study: Birds
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Tally colors of birds you see over the course of a walk.
- Older children should create their own colorful graphs to show the data.
- Younger children can cut squares of construction paper in the colors of the birds to make a concrete graph. Simply glue one square per bird in a line. For example, if three red birds were observed, three red squares should be glued in a line. If five yellow birds were observed, glue a line of five yellow squares beneath the red line.
While on the walk, talk about camouflage and decide which colored birds can hide best in their surroundings. Talk about other defense mechanisms given to birds like fast flight and high nests.
Birds use oil from a gland in their body to make their feathers waterproof. Waterproof feathers help the bird to stay warm, dry and, in some cases, allow the bird to be able to swim without getting drenched.
Bird feathers are not naturally oiled. Have you ever seen a bird preening itself? This means the bird was rubbing its head on its tail feathers and then rubbing again on other feathers. Preening glands, which excrete a waxy substance, are located near the tail feathers. The bird distributes this wax (or oil) as it preens itself.
Experiment with the ability of a feather to repel water. If you have just found a feather in the wild, it’s possible it will still have some natural oil on it. Spray a little bit of water on the feather and observe if the feather repels it. If not, let the feather dry out, then brush or spray it very lightly with cooking oil, simulating the bird’s natural oil. Spray the feather with water again. Notice how the water “beads up” and doesn’t absorb into the feather. (You can also complete this experiment with feathers purchased from the craft store.)
(Wash your hands after touching bird feathers!)
Read a Book or Two If You Like:
Today’s bird activities are just a very small sampling of similar ideas you’ll find in the NaturExplorers Beautiful Birds study!
I am so excited for this Nature series – thank you so much for doing it! We spend quite a bit of time outside, but I’m noticing that we don’t spend a lot of it intentionally observing nature. Thanks for the challenge and the tips!
We are hoping to start birds soon! 🙂 Thank you so much for providing the homeschool community with such a wonderful resource. 🙂
Thanks for this! We’re actually just getting ready to go robin-watching and I stopped to check my email and saw your post. Much appreciated!
My 4 boys and I spend LOTS of time outside and I’m in the process of starting Nature study with them! You’re website is amazing!
We just finished a nature study on birds. Can’t wait to see what the rest of your posts are going to be about. Thanks!
We love our nature walks…and this month we studied a Robin… I failed to mention to my children the oily substance on their wings, thank you for that reminder!
My parents have been talking about a mommy bird who has built a nest for her two babies at their backyard. My 4yr old son has been so curious about birds lately. Thank you for this post! I am excited to see what’s next in this nature series =)
The pollen count was too high today to take my little allergy-prone people outside, but if the wind dies down tomorrow, we’ll head out to do this activity. Thanks, Cindy!
We’re doing a bird unit right now as a pilot from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Great fun! My son and I are also becoming experts on raptors because we’re taking the falconry exam on Friday this week! E13 is studying to be a falconer and I’m along for the ride- it seems prudent that an adult be able to legally handle the bird once we have it. A glimpse of pouring into the passion….
I just love the idea of a nature series! We live on a farm surrounded by nature, but we need to spend more time observing it! We have a plethora of wild birds living here and we try to spot and name all the ones we can find!
Birds are so pretty!! We have one, he’s only 3.5 months old (we’ve had him since 2 weeks) and we watch him preen and spread this oil on his feathers after he takes a bath. It’s so fun!
We’re in the process of beefing up our bird friendliness. We added a second feeder, I plan to add some bird houses, and one day I’d like to have a bird bath, too!
Wow, thanks for writing this series, neither of these homeschool ideas you’ve shared about birds I would have ever thought of. Thanks for sharing!
Perfect timing! We’ll be starting a bird unit in a few weeks. Thank you!
We just started a nature study on birds, so the timing is perfect. Thanks for the ideas!
One of our favorite things!
My kiddos love watching birds and listening to birdsong from our kitchen table every morning.
How exciting to watch a baby bird develop!
Lisa, I understand how farm life can sometimes mean you take all the wonderful opportunities for nature study for granted. I do, too, sometimes!
Ooh, how exciting!
I love this colorful graph idea for younger children! I love this new inspiration for nature ideas for little ones!
Birds! We took an awesome guided nature walk this year to explore the nesting boxes of bluebirds.
Thank you for sharing this! My 11 yo Dd loves birds. Hopefully the younger siblings will be interested in some of this, too!
Looking forward to checking put the feathers for water proofness next time we collect some.
Are these still available for ftee
Hi Becky. This post is a free lesson using a few ideas from the Beautiful Birds NaturExplorers guide. I hope you enjoy it! 🙂