Jul 012015
 

nature center bird identification display

It is 4:37 a.m. The first bird started singing.  I really need to figure out which bird this is.  It does not really matter. I feel like we share this special time, while the rest of the world sleeps we welcome in the new day together. Though, it is an hour later than the last time I made note of my feathered  friend’s song. A reminder that the sun will start rising later everyorning from here to the Winter Equinox.

Sep 112014
 

Bird feeder hanging from tree 2

After many tries, and threats of squirrel stew, I have decided that a bird feeder with seeds just is not for our family right now.  Birds have never shown up to eat from these feeders.  Our resident squirrels thank us for the buffet, though.

So, they were taken down earlier this summer.

On a day when I felt unusually optimistic, I took Jack and George with me to the hardware store with the promise that they could buy something with their money.  After I did my shopping (not finding what I was looking for) we spent the next HOUR looking for something for them, which they could get for under $5.

One of the items George was really interested in was a hummingbird feeder.  We had the “if you buy the feeder, you also need to buy the food” discussion.  Turns out he did not quite have enough and moved on to something else.  The seed was planted in my mind though: humming bird feeder = no seeds, no seeds = the squirrels won’t steal the food.

The purchase of a feeder was not high on my list, so I decided to be patient and wait for an end of season sale.  That is exactly what I found last month.  The boys were very excited to mix up the ‘nectar’ and hang up the feeder.  My husband asked if I was becoming my mother.  🙂  (She has about 10 feeders of various designs in her yard. The picture below is from her yard.)

bird feeders for gold finches

“It is close to the end of the season, boys.  We may not get any birds this year.  Just wanted to let you know there may not be any birds till next Spring.”  They were still okay with that, so the feeder was hung outside our dinning room window, awaiting a humming bird to bless.

George was been keeping an eye on the nectar level.  He was determined to see if a bird had visited while he was at school.  A few times he told me the level was going down.  Honestly, I was thinking it was evaporating.  As I did not know one way or the other, I agreed that it could have been a bird, which would have been “Awesome.”

Last week I kept seeing flashes of something out my window.  By the time I looked nothing was there.  “Maybe it was a car driving by?”  Then I caught sight of it … a humming bird!!

A few days later, while sitting down at supper, a humming bird landed on the shepherd’s hook that held the feeder.

“George,” I said calmly, “I want you to stand up and slowly go to the window.”  He was confused but complied.  As he was standing up I continued, “There is a humming bird sitting above the feeder.”

He almost jumped to the ceiling with excitement.  As we have 10 foot ceilings, that is saying a lot.  Jack almost hopped right from his chair to the window.

Of course, the bird flew away.

Smart bird.  I would have too.

As the days have passed, I have pointed out several times when a bird has flown to the feeder or away.  The boys have always missed it.

Last night, they got to see the bird!  Then they saw 2!  Then they saw them eating!  Then they saw them fighting!  Yes, that is a lot of exclamations points going on.

humming bird feeder

Changing over to a feeder that did not require a food source which the squirrels would  also eat was a great decision.  The main goal of having a feeder was for the boys/kids to get to see birds closer than just flying overhead.  They are learning to walk slowly towards the window to look, what birds eat and how to fill the feeders, as well as what does not work.

Do you have bird feeders at home?  I would be interested in hearing what you do to keep squirrels out, whether it be a certain design or other tip.

birdfeeder

 

Linked up at:

a-wise-woman-builds-her-home

Apr 102013
 

My mother has several bird feeders in her yard which the Groundkeepers-in-training help take care of when visiting.  They often talk of these and love watching the birds when we are there.  While visiting Grandma recently a craft project was done – painting bird houses.  The GITs were so excited and love seeing “their” birdhouses each time they go to visit.  (I am trying to think of a new name for the GITs, but am having trouble doing so.  Till I find a new one, GITs will have to do.)

The biggest part to this activity being a success was lots of patience.   An adult was in charge of the paint, yet the kids had the freedom to paint however they wanted (as long as it was one color at a time, no dipping in the red then in the green with the same brush).  Large shirts were used as smocks and an old sheet on the ground kept the mess confined and painting area defined.

kids painting bird houses 4

kids painting bird housesI missed getting a picture of the final products as I was taking video and helping one of the kids.

After doing the bird house craft project I thought it was time to start our own bird activities as home. I went to the hardware store to pick up items for the bathroom I am working on.  While there I decided to get a basic bird feeder and seed for the little ones.

DSCN6966

DSCN6967

DSCN6969

Bird feeder hanging from tree

 

These were not fancy, but I thought it was a good place to start.

When we started seeing birds, I pulled out the identification book I have and started going through it.  First I explained a bit about the book – what it was, it’s layout, what the maps were for and pointed out some of the information it told.  Then we used it to visually try to find the bird we saw right then.  I kept this age appropriate.  In other words I narrowed it down to two or three options, one of which was obviously NOT the right one.  What this allowed us to do was talk about what it was we were looking for, without it being too hard for the one I was talking to.  If this particular kid had been older, I would have tried to get them to figure it out more.

This was several weeks ago and I have learned some lessons since then:

1. Squirrels can be pretty determined in what they want.

2. Squirrels can drag a bird feeder to their tree, though no UP the tree.

3. It takes a while for birds to notice you have food out for them.

4. Squirrels can be helpful in distributing the seed all over the ground.  Well, at least the birds got to eat some of the bird feed.

Yes, squirrels  have been an issue.  They were also an issue last summer with my produce stand.  There were several times I found bite marks in the produce … with the table was up on my porch.  In that case, we took to covering the table.  I don’t think that solution would work here.

To go along with the bird feeders I also purchased a bird bath.  These are placed fairly near each other, though not close enough to have a mess made in the water from bird feed.

Bird bath among rose bushes

It has taken time, but birds are starting to show up.  There have been a lot of starlings and the squirrels are still the main feeders.  I’m not quite sure what to do about either of them.  Someone suggested I stop putting out food till the starlings go away, so that is exactly what I am doing.  I also need to figure out a better place to hand the feeder.  A longer string is needed to keep the squirrels from doing their acrobatic feats and pulling the feeder off so they can get at the seed.

 

If you are looking for a few coloring pages or other activities to work on with your kids CurrClick has several available.  The ones listed below are just a sampling of what is available on CurrClick.  The prices range from free to under $10 for resources listed below.

 

Oct 032012
 

Here are some ebooks about birds that are currently $0.00 on Amazon right now.  Click on the links below each picture to be taken to the page where you can download a digital version of the book.  Before purchasing the books, please double check the price to make sure it has not changed.

I do not own a Kindle, but am able to read these on my computer.  Go here to download the free application that will allow you to do the same.

This selection is a bit more technical, or academic, than the last posting of free ebooks.  At least one was printed mid-century (in the ’20’s), so it is more of a historical read than some of the newer  options out there.  However, if you are into ornothology, you might still enjoy it. 

Wild Birds in City Parks Being hints on identifying 145 birds, prepared primarily for the spring migration in Lincoln Park, Chicago

 

A Check-List of the Birds of Idaho

 

Territory in Bird Life

 Children’s books:

 

Child’s Book of Water Birds

The Miracle of the Birds of Peace