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