Monday, November 29, 2010

Black and White Bird Study

I hope everyone had a wonderfully blessed Thanksgiving holiday.  We enjoyed ourselves immensely with friends and family.  As I had mentioned in prior posts, we live in a farmhouse that dates back to 1782.  One advantage to living in a house with so much history is a cooking hearth.  Each Thanksgiving we cook our entire meal over the fire and in the beehive oven that adjoins it.  The only exception would be the turkey.  I had great plans to document the process for a post, but unfortunately I was too busy cooking to think about the camera.  Next year I will try to capture the event.  It really is like stepping back in history.

Today we got back into our school work, and as you know we have science Monday.  Our friends at the "Outdoor Hour" are in between sessions and will start up with the winter challenges in January.  So from now until then we will be using The Handbook of Nature Study to guide us through some investigations of our own.  We have had a flurry of activity at our bird feeder, and our new feeding platform.  The boys enjoy sitting in the kitchen window and observing the antics.  They are able to identify several of our visitors including the bluejay, cardinal, and goldfinch.

I have strategically placed a hanging bird identification guide between the windows.  As the boys sit there, we are able to discuss what birds we see, most of which are represented by our little identifier.

Our focus this week is on black and white birds- specifically the chickadee and the downy woodpecker.  We began our study reading a few books.

Then we watched several video clips from the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology.  If you love birds, and have not had the opportunity to discover this site, beware.... you will be on it all the time!  The site is one of the most comprehensive on the web.
Here is the link to the video of the black-capped chickadee.  http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Black-capped_Chickadee/videos
This one is of the downy woodpecker.
http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Downy_Woodpecker/videos

The boys were fascinated by not only the visual, but the excellent recording of the songs of the birds.  "I" really enjoyed trying to copy the voicing of the chickadee by saying "phoebe.....chicka dee dee dee."  The downy woodpecker makes a whinny in its song that was reminiscent of our horse study.  They both thought that was pretty funny.

We headed outside for a walk on our property.  We are surrounded by woods,  wetlands, creeks, and small farms.  It is a haven for birds.  A few steps into the woods we could hear the sweet songs of several chickadees.  We climbed down a slope into the marsh where there is an abundance of dead waterlogged trees.  One was particularly noteworthy.   It is riddled with holes created by our local friendly downy woodpeckers.


They boys approached the tree and were able to put their hands inside the holes made by the woodpeckers.


As we climbed out of the swamp, we looked for other evidences of woodpeckers.  We found this on the ground.


Back inside the house we watched the feeder for a bit and recognized the black-capped chickadee.


(Sorry for the photo quality, it was through the screen and window....) We did not see any downy woodpeckers today.  Each of the boys completed two coloring pages courtesy of the Lab of Ornithology.   They were very careful to color each part with the correct markings for the black-capped chickadee and the downy woodpecker. We used our field guides to help us keep the markings straight.




We discussed the differences between tree climbing birds such as the downy woodpecker, and perching birds such as the chickadee.  It is amazing how two feeder birds can use their feet so differently.  We learned how the male and female chickadee have the same markings, and how male downy woodpeckers have the red head and the females are more black.

Then I was inspired by two things.
 The paper puzzle I made for the boys for our goose study

and these beautiful counting cards made by Eboo

I liked the idea of creating two new bird puzzles for the boys, but I wanted them to last longer than the paper did.  Looking at these wonderful counting bird cards, I noticed that some of the prints used to make the birds look like fabric.

I pulled out my quilting scraps and worked with the boys to cut out the colors and markings for each of our featured birds.  We used a piece of blue wool as a background and built the bird puzzles. The fabric is not only durable, but captures some of the color variation in the feathers.

The completed puzzles were placed in separate bags and put on the science center along with the wool background.  By practicing with the puzzles, the boys are sure to learn the distinctive features of each of these birds.

1 comment:

Phyllis said...

Oh, you are so clever. How beautiful. I love it.