Outdoor Hour Challenge – Black and White Birds 2018


Black and White Birds Nature study @handbookofnature

Outdoor Hour Challenge

Black and White Birds – Woodpeckers, Chickadees, Nuthatches, and Towhees

From the Archives and from the Learning About Birds ebook

The birds in this week’s challenge are some of my favorite birds! There’s such a great variety of birds to choose from. To learn more, use the link above to the archived challenge. Which bird will you choose?

  • Woodpeckers: These are some of the most interesting birds that come to our backyard. They’re usually bigger than the rest and will cling to the tree trunk, pecking for their next meal. You can often hear them before you see them if they’re tapping on a tree or fence post.
  • Chickadees: Chickadees are very social little birds that have a simple to identify song. Listen for them with their chickadee call from the tree limbs. They’ll also come close to you if you sit next to your feeder.
  • Nuthatches: These little acrobats will climb up and down your tree trunks. They often remind me of little clown faces. They are fast!
  • Towhees: You will pretty much find towhees under your feeder and not perching at the feeder itself. They have a funny way of scratching around under the feeder to find their seeds. My favorite are the spotted towhees!

Pick one of the birds in this challenge to read about and then go outside and look for them!

Learning About Birds ebook Bird List @handbookofnaturestudy

This black and white bird challenge is from the Learning About Birds ebook here on the Handbook of Nature Study. It’s found in the Ultimate and Journey level memberships for you to download and use with your family. If you would like to gain access to this ebook, you can purchase a membership now and have instant access.

Ultimate Naturalist Library September 2017 @handbookofnaturestudy

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Bonus Notebook Pages!

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Bird StudyMy Nest Study

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Bird Study with Nest and Egg Notebook Page

My Nest Study Notebook Page

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Outdoor Mom – April 2018

Outdoor Mom

April 2018

I was born and raised in California and California spring is all I’ve ever experienced until this year. Central Oregon has rocked my conception of what March and April weather should be and how it should look. Usually by now, I’m in the thick of spring wildflower season, taking hikes to see the lupines and poppies. Not this year.


Spring Landscape Oregon

April has been a subtle changing of the season. Our landscape is just now starting to show some signs of green and I actually spotted my very first dandelion in my yard. Our temperatures are getting warmer and we had some rain this week rather than snow so maybe, just maybe, we are headed to spring.


Kona at the river Spring

This new version of spring has not stopped us from getting outdoors. In fact, my husband and I take a daily walk to check out our river and the changes that are happening there.

Changes in Our World

We’ve spotted more birds, including new ones for our life list like the Wilson’s snipe, the wood duck, and the common goldeneye. Also, we spied our very first rufous hummingbird scouting out our backyard. I had an inkling that they were around so I’d just hung our feeder and sure enough, they visited while I was watching. I’ve been super happy with the Merlin Bird ID app from Cornell. This is a free app that helps you identify a bird without the use of a field guide. I find it very easy to use and pretty much every time, I can use the app to find out a bird’s name.


april 2018 ground squirrel mammal (1)

We’ve been observing the Belding’s ground squirrels with binoculars. I’d noticed activity around the holes out back and one afternoon they made their appearance. They’re such busy little creatures as they scratch around on the ground looking for something to eat. They’re smaller than I thought they should be and their tails are much shorter than expected. But, there is something quite entertaining about these ground squirrels and I love their cinnamon color.


Spring sky

We’ve been talking about taking the kayaks out on the river and today it was so sunny and warm that we just did it!


Ponderosa pine tree

We’ve started exploring our area some more and all of its many lakes. My son and I drove up to the Twin Lakes, stopping to hike completely around South Twin Lake. What an enjoyable mile or so hike! There are some gorgeous ponderosa pines along the trail and we saw quite a bit of green manzanita just starting to blossom. It’s great to have my hiking buddy living with us for now…hoping to find some more trails to explore soon with this guy.

Barb at the River April 2018

I’m eagerly anticipating a great upcoming month of outdoor time as the spring weather really hits. It’s like awakening from a long winter’s nap to find a new world to observe with new plants, animals, birds, and insects to get to know.



How are you enjoying your spring?


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Follow me here: Instagram – outdoorhourchallenge. If you’d like me to take a look at one of your images on Instagram, use the hashtag #outdoorhourchallenge.

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 month 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…
  • One last image…

What is Nyctinasty?

Why do Flowers Close at Night?

Why do flowers close at night nyctinasty


Simple definition:  The movement of leaves or petals in response to light; the closing of flowers at night. This may help to protect the pollen from dew.

I love learning about amazing things that happen right under my nose. Many of us have observed the way our dandelions are closed up tight in the morning and then the bloom opens up in the sunshine each day. But, have we taken the time to really understand how that happens and why it happens? Just recently I did a little research to find the answer to that question.  Now when I take note of my sleepy little flowers, I can appreciate the mechanism for this phenomenon: nyctinasty.

Poppy nyctinasty

Examples of flowers that open and close:

  • Tulip
  • Crocus
  • Dandelion
  • Poppy
  • Daisy

Fun fact – The leaves of some plants, like those of certain legumes, open and close as well.

 dandelion nyctinasty

Try This! Something to Observe

Find a patch of daisies or dandelions in your yard. Observe the flower at different times of the day. When are they opened up? When are they closed?

Advanced study: For an additional experiment, try covering a dandelion with a box to shut out the light. What do you think you will find when you take the box off the next day?

Taking time to notice these changes will help your child make a more intimate connection with the world around them. I guarantee you will look at dandelions differently after observing them up close!

Nyctinasty notebook page

If you’re an Ultimate or Journey level member here on the Handbook of Nature Study, you have a custom notebook page for creating a nature journal entry for nyctinasty in your download library.

tulip nyctinasty

Additional Links:

Why do plants close their leaves at night? – Audio explanation of nyctinasty.

Flowers on the Move – Super simple explanation of nyctinasty.

List of Flowers That Close at Night – Here’s a list to get you started.


Outdoor Hour Challenges for Flowers That Close At Night


If you would like to purchase a membership to have access to all 21 of the ebooks here on the Handbook of Nature Study, you can click the button below to view the titles. In addition, members receive access to all 76 archived issues of the monthly nature study newsletter, and new monthly printables.

Ultimate Naturalist Library September 2017 @handbookofnaturestudy