Nature Study

Earlier this year I happened to read about all the great benefits children receive from going out-of-doors and taking sometime to observe the world around them.  I lamented the fact that our neighborhood, while not one of the ubiquitous manufactured suburbian fishbowls that crop up all too often these days, is probably the 1940s equivalent of the same.  The difference?  Our house plans are individual, and we have mature trees.  But are we likely to find rare flora and fauna in our yards?  Probably not.  Are we likely to see a deer by dawn or dusk?  Mmm, no.

Of course, once I brought my overly high expectations down to reality, I began to realize the scope for nature study in our own humble property.  A bird feeder across from our large picture window gave the boys plenty of opportunity to see a variety of birds (and the antics of thieving squirrels).  The garden gives them great lessons on the wonder of growing things, and how not to pick tomatoes until the balls are red.

I’ve been noticing more little things as well.  A muskrat used to sneak under the privacy fence and pull up patches of clover.  I found one of the many chipmunk burrows.  I noticed the family of Carolina wrens that nested in a plant pot on our porch.

And one night, Haus Meister and I saw an owl silhouetted against the streetlights as he perched on a privacy fence.  As we watched, he suddenly spread his wings and dove out of sight.  It was magnificent.  Twice since then I’ve heard him calling, most recently last night, so this morning I googled owl calls and successfully identified this fellow as a Barred (or Hoot) Owl.

I wonder if our squirrels are getting nervous?

I wonder if our squirrels are getting nervous?

I guess this goes to show that one can still enjoy a bit of nature study without leaving your backyard. 🙂

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4 thoughts on “Nature Study

  1. Elizabeth Butina says:

    One of the most fun things I did with Rose last year was to create a “bird journal” with her. We printed out pics of some of the most common birds we see at our feeder (found the pics through Google Images) and we spent some time each day watching the feeder and counting how many of each kind of bird we saw. It was lots of fun. We kept doing it until Spring was really underway and they didn’t need the seeds anymore. She has developed a real interest in songbirds, and is always borrowing bird guides from her great-grandma (who has always been a bird watcher). Really cool. It is amazing how much wildlife one can see in even a suburban backyard.

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