Outdoor Hour Challenge- Intro to Birds – Chicken Nature Study

Outdoor Hour Challenge

Chicken Nature Study

“The purpose of all these lessons on the hen are: (a) To induce the child to make continued and sympathetic observations on the habits of the domestic birds. (b) To cause him involuntarily to compare the domestic with the wild birds. (c) To induce him to think for himself how the shape of the body, wings, head, beak, feet, legs, and feathers are adapted in each species to protect the bird and assist it in getting its living.”  Handbook of Nature Study

Do you raise backyard chickens? Do you have friends or neighbors that have chickens? Use the ideas in this week’s Outdoor Hour Challenge to learn more about these interesting birds! The lessons in the Handbook of Nature Study can apply to all sorts of birds as well as chickens, so read through the lesson suggestions to find something to observe up close and then create a nature journal.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Bird Study Chickens @handbookofnaturestudy

View the original challenge here:

Outdoor Hour Challenge – Chicken.  

Chicken Notebook Page 1\Chicken Notebook Page 2

If you have access to the ebook, there are two notebook pages to choose from for your nature journal.

Handbook of Nature Study Autumn Nature Study 2015 Cover Image

Sample to view: Outdoor Hour Challenge Autumn Nature Study 2015 Sample Pages

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Creating a Wildlife Habitat in Your Own Backyard Part 1

Creating a Wildlife Habitat in Your Own Backyard

Part 1 – Make an Assessment

Creating a Wildlife Garden in your Own Backyard

The story of how I decided to create a more wildlife friendly backyard started a long time ago.

growing up with a manicured yard

Our Backyard – 1967

I grew up in a world of manicured lawns and formal flower beds that required a lot of care and attention.

california plot of land

Our First Home in California – 1987

Purchasing our first home back in California, we were happy to be able to afford a plot of land that had a large yard with front yard and backyard lawns and bare ground that had potential for flowers and vegetables in the garden. But in those days, I hadn’t awakened my desire to garden for wildlife, only human needs.

garden beginnings california

Fast forward a few years, we started to homeschool and to spend lots more time in our own yard. Homeschooling introduced us to nature study and I was drawn to Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of encouraging lots of outdoor time for children. While my boys played outside in our backyard, I haphazardly planted more pollinator friendly plants and trees as a way to create a space where we had some things to observe and learn about together.

front yard remodel california

Then we made more radical changes by completely removing our front yard lawn and replacing it with native plants and adding additional food and water sources for the birds and other animal visitors. We were creating a more wildlife friendly habitat.

backyard before dry landscape oregon

Then we moved to Central Oregon and its harsher environment. We experienced the truly cold and snowy winter climate and the dry, dry, dry high desert climate in the summer. It was a bit of an adjustment to learn what would thrive in our new yard and what sorts of wildlife we needed to accommodate.

wildflower meadow oregon 2019 (2)

The process has been enjoyable and interesting. It takes patience and a little effort but creating a wildlife friendly habitat is worth all the energy.

Wildlife will come to you!


My husband says it’s a case of “if you build it, they will come”. This truly has been our experience.

There have been doubters in our circle of friends. We’ve had people question our choices from time to time, but once we explain why we plant certain things or leave certain plants/weeds to grow, they better understand that we really do have a plan.

My hope is that you will consider creating a wildlife garden of your own. I assure you that you don’t need a lot of land, a lot of money, or any special knowledge in order to be successful.

Think of the process as a way to invite nature right up to your doorstep.

Assess Your Yard and Make a Plan (make a headline)

Make an assessment of what you already have available in your yard. You can use either of the printables below to get started. Ask your children to help you make an inventory of what may already be working for wildlife.

Wildlife Habitat Plan

Would you like a free printable plan for creating your own wildlife habitat? I created one for you to use as you assess your yard for the four elements you’ll need to become certified.

Download and print yours here: Wildlife Habitat Plan

checklist wildlife garden

Here’s another printable from the National Wildlife Federation that has a detailed checklist for you to use: Garden Certification Walk-through Checklist.

nesting box

Brainstorm Ideas About Who You Would Like to Visit Your Yard

After you assess your yard, create a list of what you’d like to invite into your habitat. Your children may need some guidance in making a reasonable list of things that may come to visit.

collage wildlife garden

Here are some ideas: butterflies, birds, ladybugs, bees, frogs and toads, squirrels.

My next post will help you create a plan to attract wildlife to your yard by planting and creating the habitat that will entice them to visit and stay awhile.

For now, print one of the suggested printables above and make it a family project to gather information about your current backyard habitat. I don’t want you to worry if you think your yard is a barren wasteland to start with. In my next post, I’ll help you to make a start and I guarantee you that anything you do to create a wildlife habitat will be rewarded if you’re patient.

If you want to look for a good book at your public library that will help stimulate interest in this project, I highly recommend this book that I have in my personal library.

Please note that the link above is an Amazon affiliate link to a book I purchased and value as a resource on this topic.

I will be continuing this series in the months to come. I hope it will help you begin to think about your own backyard space as a possible wildlife habitat that will bring some wild things right to you.

Leave me a comment or send me an email if you have any questions or comments.

[email protected]






Creating a Rock Nature Journal

Creating a Rock Nature Journal

From the Newsletter Archives (January 2013)

During July 2012, our family took a trip to the Oregon Coast. We spent quite a bit of time just beachcombing for shells and rocks. I ended up with a collection that I wanted to record in my nature journal.

McVay Rock tidepools and rocks (7)

Rocks in general are a difficult subject to draw. I decided that the colorful rocks were much easier and that using a black pen to first outline the shape was helpful.

Oregon Rock Nature Journal

Recording rocks in your nature journal requires you to slow down and really examine the rock, noting its colors, shape, and texture.

collecting rocks baggie

I find it’s much easier to collect a few rocks and then bring them home for sketching. I have a stash of snack size Ziplocs in my nature box that I recycle from trip to trip. You can also use empty Tic-Tac or Altoid containers if you have a supply of those. We did use film canisters in the past but now that’s sort of outdated.

Greenwood river quartz rock collection

Sometimes you find a rock you want to draw in your nature journal but you cannot bring a sample home…like if you’re at a National Park or on private property. In that case, I take a few close-up images of the rock with my camera. Then I either use the image to draw the rock into my journal or I can just print out the image and put that in my journal.

I love looking back on these rock nature journal pages now and remembering not only the rocks but the experience of collecting them on a particular day.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Rock Study Marble Calcite Limestone @handbookofnaturestudy

Take the opportunity to create a few rock themed nature journal pages as part of the Outdoor Hour Challenge for Calcite, Limestone, and Marble (make a link) from last week. Click over and read how to get started.