Our Wonderful World by Emery Lewis Howe is a rich nature study book available for free download covering backyard neighbors, feathered friends, garden life, four-footed comrades, and the earth and its neighbors. By covering one chapter a week, there are 32 weeks worth of lessons. Enjoy the complete series!
The section on birds is broken into three parts; the first part is a general introduction, this part focuses on birds that act as “guardians,” and part three is concerned with how to feed and care for birds. Various types of birds are covered throughout.
- Investigate the different North American Migration Flyways. What type of birds might you see in your area during times of migration?
- Add a notebooking page for each of the birds mentioned in this lesson: meadowlark, cuckoo, Bullock’s oriole, purple martin, chipping sparrow, grosbeak, nuthatch, downy woodpecker, gull, vulture (buzzard), and house sparrow (English sparrow).
- Make a chart showing the different types of insects different types of birds eat. Some are mentioned in the lesson. You may also find this Going Buggy chart helpful. And don’t miss the field study and journaling suggestion at the bottom!
- What does it mean when we say that birds are warm-blooded animals?
- Investigate the warbler family. Make a chart showing the types of insects each different warbler will eat, and where they find them.
- View a tent caterpillar.
- The chapter referred to called “Dr. Woodpecker, Tree Surgeon” can be found in The Spell of the Rockies by Enos Mills.
- Investigate the owl family. Which owls are common in your area? What do they eat? Add them to your bird notebook.
- Read “The Birds of Killingworth” by Longfellow.
- Instead of making a new list as the first activity suggests, you can just add this information to your bird book started in the last lesson.
- The Holman Bible Dictionary can be helpful for finding the different types of birds mentioned in the Bible. (You may also appreciate the list put together at Annie’s listed in the additional resources below.) Older students can choose several verses about birds that are used to illustrate important concepts. What analogies do they find?
- You can read about Saint Francis of Assisi in The Book of Saints and Friendly Beasts by Abbie Farwell Brown.
- Use the bird poem for copywork or memorization. You’ll find a list of bird poems in the additional resources below.
- Use the Bible verses listed for copywork or dictation.
- More about birds from the Book of Knowledge:
You cannot draw a map with firm boundaries showing where all the families of birds make their homes. Some birds, to be sure, are stay-at-homes, but many are great travelers. Some live in northern climates in summer and go south to spend the winter. Others move about restlessly. Birds that stay in the same general locality throughout the year are called permanent residents. Those that settle in a region for the summer and raise their young there are called summer residents. Those present only in winter are winter residents (or winter visitors if they move about). Those that nest in the north, winter entirely in the south, and spend spring and fall in the central area are called migrants, or transients….
What strange power impels a tiny winged creature to leave its summer home within two or three weeks of the same day each year and fly thousands of miles to a winter home it has never seen? What then drives it to return again to the same part of the United States or Canada where it had been raised and to arrive so punctually that the date of its return can often be predicted to within a single week? How, year after year, does it find its way back to the identical field or wood where it raised its first young? …
Rising temperatures have much to do with the start north. In the southern states two or three days of abnormally warm weather in late January or early February will start the earliest migrants on their northward journey. Continuous cold weather, however, will delay the start. Some geese and ducks move northward as rapidly as the ice leaves the rivers and ponds. In general these birds, together with the earliest land birds, begin their migration as soon as the average temperature reaches thirty-five degrees Fahrenheit. In their northward movement they keep right up with this thirty-five degree average.
The start of spring migration appears to be connected with length of day as well as with temperature. As the days increase in length and the sun rises higher in the sky, changes take place in the bodies of the birds. The pituitary gland is stimulated, the reproductive organs develop, and finally the migration instinct is aroused….
Once the migration has actually started, the rate of travel and, to some extent, the routes are governed by the weather. Most species fly only about one hundred or two hundred miles in a night or a day and then rest and feed for two or three days or even a week before making another long flight.
“Bird Distribution and Migration,” The Book of Knowledge
Ready to go outdoors? The Handbook of Nature study covers birds beginning on page 27, and continuing through page 143. The beginning pages cover feathers, flight, migration, eyes and ears, beaks, feet, songs of birds, attracting birds, the value of birds; the following material covers the individual types of birds.
Basic information from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Annie’s Bird Page
Always a favorite, this page includes information on birds in the Bible, migration, feeding, fun facts, and a variety of activities.
“The Owl and the Pussycat” by Edward Lear
“The Nightingale and Glow-Worm” by William Cowper
“A Bird Came Down” by Emily Dickinson
“The Dalliance of the Eagles” by Walt Whitman
“The Owl” by Alfred Lord Tennyson
“The Eagle” by Alfred Lord Tennyson
Bird Migration Game
Help the wood thrush migrate by answering questions in this interactive game.
Four experiments relating to the flight of birds.
Owl Pellet Dissection Lab
From Home Science Tools. The owl pellets will need to be purchased, but are reasonably priced.
Virtual Owl Pellet Dissection
Or go the virtual route! More pellet dissections are available from the menu at the top.
Owl Pellet Bone Chart
Helpful for identification.
Owl Pellet Lab Sheet
For older students.
A combination of bingo and birdwatching.
Owl Sounds Download
Download a zipped file of owl calls in MP3 format from Cornell.
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
“If you go owling, you have to be quiet, that’s what Pa always says.” A young girl out looking for a great horned owl way past her bedtime on a cold winter night – something she waited a long time to do. Wonderful story and beautifully illustrated winner of the Caldecott Medal. “When you go owling you don’t need words or warm or anything but hope. That’s what Pa says.”
Units & Lesson Plans
Audubon: A Mini-Unit
Many, many helpful books, resources and downloads from our Audubon mini-unit including our favorite identification guides, a bird coloring book download from Cornell, and instructions on how to draw birds.
Informational Coloring Pages
For six different types of owl. Great for notebook.
Owl Study Notebooking Page
Nice summary sheet for owls.
Includes space to record the name of the bird, information on its habitat, how to recognize the bird, the food it eats and where it nests. There is a map with a symbol key for recording the bird’s range (year round, summer and winter) and room for a picture/photo of the bird. One of the better bird notebooking pages we’ve come across. From HomeschoolNotebooking.com.
Bird Notebooking Pages
Free set of 50 pages for all things bird.
21-page download includes foldables of all kinds including those for bird observations, anatomy, predators, classifications, eggs, and feathers. From HomeschoolShare.