Bird Migration and Feederwatch

nesting box

I am fascinated by birds that migrate. It makes me feel an awe for such creatures and the way they travel up to thousands of miles as the seasons change. When I lived in California, I was aware of birds and the way they would come and go at my feeders season by season. I could anticipate their arrival and then have a fairly good idea of who would be leaving at the turn of the weather. Project Feederwatch each year made me keenly aware that the birds at my feeders were not the same year round.

thistle feeder

I am getting ready to participate in my first year of Project Feederwatch here in my new home. I have updated my account and created a new description of the feeders and their locations and types. Watching birds is an everyday affair here from my kitchen and family room windows so Project Feederwatch is a perfect match for our lifestyle. I enjoy participating in a citizen science project that helps gather data for those involved in various bird science projects and studies. Plus, it is something that refreshes me and brings a lot of joy to my life. It is something that I can participate in that doesn’t take a huge commitment of time and I can do it right from my own home, even if I am wearing my pajamas.

snag pile for shelter

This is our first autumn and winter here in our new home so we are still experimenting with various feeder types and the placement within the yard. I had an idea to add a brush pile just outside our back fence after we trimmed some tree limbs. So far I have observed birds and squirrels investigating the jumble of limbs with their needles and cones still intact. It isn’t too far from my cluster of feeders so it will provide some shelter for birds once the snow arrives.

bluejay figurine

I started right after we moved in creating a list of bird visitors to our yard. I will be keeping that habit going right on through the next few seasons. This should give us a pretty good idea of the migrant visitors as they pass through or stay for awhile. This is a simple way to get your family started with a more in-depth bird study and I encourage you to keep track of the birds that come to your feeders.

sandhill crane bird

We recently had the experience of hearing and then seeing a group of sandhill cranes fly over our yard. It was about sunset when my son and I were out doing yardwork. I heard in the distance what at first I thought were geese coming overhead. But, it was a strange and unfamiliar sound and not geese at all. (Click over to AllAboutBirds to hear what it sounded like.) My son spoke up when he realized it was the sound of sandhill cranes. He had heard them before when we lived in California and immediately recognized the rattling loud commotion of a group of cranes flying south over our house. It was exciting to experience this for the first time and I have since done some research into the migration habits of the sandhill crane. Knowing how far they fly has given me such an awe for these large birds. I just created a page in my nature journal with this information and I will share the page next week in an entry.

The opportunity to study birds can present itself when you least expect it…look for those opportunities!

Make sure to learn about the Feederwatch program and decide if it is a good fit for your family!


Project Feederwatch button

Bird Sleuth button
There is a wealth of birding information on the internet but I have not found a more homeschool-friendly site than the ones sponsored by Cornell University. I would love to encourage you all to subscribe to their homeschool blog (click the logo above to pop over there now).

You can also follow them on Facebook .
You can download homeschooling resources here.
Of course, my favorite resource is their AllAboutBirds website which is a great tool for identifying and learning more about birds in your own neighborhood.

Learning About Birds 3D cover

I invite you to check out my Learning About Birds ebook available to Ultimate and Journey level members here on the Handbook of Nature Study.

Outdoor Hour Challenge – Starting a Nature Journal

Outdoor Hour Challenge - Nature Journal Getting Started

Outdoor Hour Challenge

Nature Journal – How to Get Started

From the Archives and the Autumn 2010 ebook

I know many of you have been eager to get started on your nature journals using the Outdoor Hour Challenge. This week’s challenge will help you do just that!

Click over for specific instructions and make sure to read the pages in the Handbook of Nature Study for inspiration. Please note that every nature journal page should begin with some outdoor time with your children. The key to creating great pages is to have something of interest to draw and/or write about in your journal.

Handbook of Nature Study Free Downloads

If you are looking for some free nature notebooking pages to print out and use with your family, I invite you to click over to my Free Downloads page. Make sure to scroll down to the blank pages at the bottom of the page.


Autumn 2010 Outdoor Hour Challenge

We are currently working through the Autumn 2010 ebook. For a complete nature study schedule for the next year, please click over and read this entry: Plans for October 2017 through August 2018.

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Outdoor Mom Journal – October 2017

Outdoor Mom – October 2017


We have spent quite a bit of time this month outdoors in our yard as we work on the landscaping. We discovered the most awesome garden nursery in our area and made quite a few trips over there to pick out bushes for our front yard.


We are trying to keep it simple while adding color to the view. It is also important to me to pick things that will provide shelter and food for the local birds and other animals. We settled on some chokeberry and twin berry bushes. I think they will be a perfect match for our habitat and yard terrain.


Our family managed to fit in a long weekend camping trip over to Silver Falls State Park. It was perfect weather for hiking and we managed to see all but one of the ten waterfalls in the park. The habitat in that area is so gorgeous and very different from where I live in the high desert. This Outdoor Mom loves being refreshed by the tall trees and the sound of water cascading over rocks! Plus, unlike our town, the air was smoke free!


Our backyard river walks are turning golden as the grasses start to go to seed and die back. My loyal dog companion is always ready for a romp down to the water. The muddy edges come alive with frogs jumping as we pass by. Our temperatures have been below freezing at night several nights so far but the days are pleasant and the sun is amazingly rejuvenating when we get out and walk in it.


September was a month of kayaking with my boys. It appears that the lazy river kayak is a favorite of my boys so we will on a whim drag the boats down to the water and take off on an adventure. The birds are the stars of the show on just about every trip which makes this bird nerd pretty happy. We often spot a hawk sitting on a tree or soaring overhead.


We had to take a quick trip to California to take care of some business so I was excited to fit in a morning wandering around some apple orchards. Apples were purchased for eating and applesauce making. Apple donuts were eaten, marking the true beginning of the autumn season in my mind.


So for now, this Outdoor Mama will be gazing at the mountains, watching for the aspens to change color, and making time for lots of walks. Our yards are cleaned up for the up-coming cold temperatures…snow shovels and rakes and blower at the ready. The firewood is stacked up for the woodstove. We are eager to see what the next month will bring as we are dreaming of our first long autumn here in Central Oregon.



Want to join in the Outdoor Mom post?

Answer all or just one of the prompts in a blog entry on your own blog or right here on my blog in a comment. If you answer on your blog, make sure to leave me a link in a comment so that I can pop over and read your responses.

  • During our outdoor time this week we went….
  • The most inspiring thing we experienced was…
  • Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)…
  • In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting….
  • I added nature journal pages about….
  • I am reading…
  • I am dreaming about…
  • A photo I would like to share…

October 2017 Nature Planning     Page


Did you print out your October Nature Study Planner?