December Bird Study and Nature Notes

Our December bird study has been accomplished by participation in Project Feederwatch.

We didn’t see a Belted Kingfisher for that particular Outdoor Hour Challenge. As much as I travel in California, I have never seen one in real life. I used the location and species application over on the Great Backyard Bird Count website to local possible locations for future observation. It looks like that we can find them within an hour’s drive of our house which is encouraging.

Anna hummingbird

Here are our details for Project Feederwatch so far in the month of December.

  1. Anna’s hummingbird-1
  2. Western scrub jay-2
  3. Titmouse-2
  4. House finch-12
  5. Junco-9
  6. California towhee-2
  7. Spotted towhee-3
  8. Sooty fox sparrow-2
  9. White-crowned sparrow-8 (no house sparrows yet!)
  10. Mourning dove-2
  11. Downy Woodpecker-1
  12. Mockingbird-1
  13. American robin-5
  14. Lesser goldfinch-6
  15. Western bluebird-3
  16. Northern flicker-3
  17. European starling-6
  18. White-breasted nuthatch-1

Spotted towhee Dec 2014

Other Nature Notes

  • Aside from counting birds this month, I have been keeping track of rainfall. Yes, we have had rain! Our rain gauge has measured a total of 11 inches of rain since 12/1/14. We have been so dry that we don’t mind the rainy days at all!
  • We have had some beautiful orange-pink sunrises in the last week with the stormy clouds.
  • The last of the autumn leaves are down from the trees.
  • My Zygocactus has started to bloom.
  • We have several rose buds on the plant.
  • My early spring Narcissus bulbs are blooming! I think they are a little mixed up about the season.


 This year I am pretty much on my own for weekday nature walks.  I am scheduling in at least two long walks a week because walking and thinking are so very refreshing. Just getting outside in the air to observe the season takes a little effort but it is never disappointing. Let me how you are able to keep your nature walks going during the winter. I will be writing an article for an up-coming newsletter about the benefits of regular outdoor time for families.

How is your December looking?



Nature Study Continues – Winter Nature Study Ebook

Outdoor Hour Challenge Winter Nature Study Continues ebook

Included in the Outdoor Hour Challenge Winter Nature Study Continues Ebook:
  • 11 new challenges centered on the Handbook of Nature Study 
  • 29+ notebook pages (regular and advanced options) and 13 coloring pages
  • Ten Charlotte Mason style exam questions
  • Full color images for 10 challenges in the ebook (separate pages so you can choose whether to print them or not)
  • Complete instructions for each challenge included additional links, videos, and resources
  • Nature journal suggestions
  • Complete list of supplies needed
  • Sample to view:
  • 72 pages in the ebook!

Here is a list of the specific challenges included in this ebook:

  • Rock Study – Feldspar
  • Star Study – Orion
  • Crystals
  • Fungi Study – Scarlet Cup (Saucer)
  • Bird Study – Flicker
  • Mammal Study – Cattle/Deer
  • Wildflower Study – Bloodroot
  • Garden Flower – Violets
  • Wildflower Study – Hepatica
  • Wildflower Study – Dutchman’s Breeches and Squirrel Corn
  • Garden Flowers – Bleeding Hearts

I am happy to announce the release of the long awaited Outdoor Hour Challenge Winter Nature Study Continues ebook! You are going to love the fresh new challenges to try in your family as you work your way through the weekly topics. I have been eager to start them as I put them together, gathering lots of fun videos and supporting resources to use along with the Handbook of Nature Study lessons.

Which edition of the Handbook of Nature Study do I need?

You will need to have a copy of the Handbook of Nature Study to use with the suggestions in the ebook. You can purchase a copy from or you can use an online version. The version of the Handbook of Nature Study I use is ISBN 0801493846.

Each week I will be sharing one of the challenges here on the blog which means you can follow along without a membership if you subscribe to my blog. You can subscribe by entering your email address in the subscription box at the top right of my website. After you enter your name, you will need to confirm your subscription by responding to the email that will come to your inbox.

Where Can I Get The New Ebook?

This ebook will not be sold separately but will be added to the Ultimate and Journey levels of membership here on the Handbook of Nature Study.

If you are a member of the Ultimate or Journey levels here on the Handbook of Nature Study, you will find the ebook listed in your library after you log into your account. The ebook version available to members includes all of the notebook pages, coloring pages, and color images. I highly recommend purchasing a membership for all the added benefits for each and every challenge.

Handbook of Nature Study Ultimate Naturalist Library




Outdoor Hour Challenge – Hemlock Tree

Hemlock Tree Nature Study @handbookofnaturestudy

Inside Preparation Work:

  • Read in the Handbook of Nature Study pages 679-680 (Lesson 187).  At the very least, use the suggestions in #1 to complete a little closer observation of a hemlock tree in your neighborhood.
  • Look at this map to see if you have Eastern hemlock or Western hemlock in your area.
  • YouTube videos: Chickadee in an Eastern Hemlock, Eastern Hemlock,  Western Hemlock.
  • NOTE: I do not recommend or advise eating anything mentioned in this challenge.
  • Images of the Hemlock tree are included in the ebook.

Outdoor Hour Time:

  • Take your outdoor time outside looking at trees. Try to locate a hemlock tree in your neighborhood to examine from a distance and then up close.
  • Things to look at:
  1. The way the limbs droop down, note the way young hemlocks give shelter to birds and other animals.
  2. Look at the leaves and the arrangement on the twig. Also look at the color of the top and bottom of the leaves.
  3. Find the cones and note whether they are on the tip or the side of the twig.
  4. What is the color of the bark?
  • If you don’t have a hemlock tree, make a close study of another evergreen tree.
  • If you would like, your child can complete the My Tree Is A Living World challenge and notebook page.
  • Advanced Study: Complete a more complete study of the hemlock by using more of the suggestions in the Handbook of Nature Study lesson observations suggestions. Bring a cone and leaves from the hemlock indoors for closer observation.

Follow-Up Activity:

  • Use the notebook page in the ebook to record your hemlock observations. Make sure to include a sketch!
  • Advanced Study: Record in detail the leaf, cone, and seed. You can use the notebook page included in the ebook of you would like to keep it simple.

Handbook of Nature Study Ultimate Naturalist Library

Join us for this series of challenges every week here on the Handbook of Nature Study. If you want to purchase the Autumn Nature Study Continues ebook so you can follow along with all the notebooking pages, coloring pages, and subject images, you can join the Ultimate or Journey Membership Levels. See the Join Us page for complete information. Also, you can view the Autumn Nature Study Continues content list on the announcement page.

OHC Autumn Nature Study Continues Cover Button

You can also submit any Outdoor Hour Challenge blog entry from December to the next edition of the Outdoor Hour Challenge Blog Carnival by sending the link directly to me by 12/30/14.