Burgess Bird Book {Free eBook & Activities}

The Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton W. Burgess is a wonderful classic that frequently finds its way onto the homeschool family shelf. Originally published in the early 1900s it is still in print today — but also available as a free eBook download.

Renowned worldwide for stories that teach gentle lessons of conservation and love of wildlife, Thornton W. Burgess has educated generations of young people about nature and the importance of preserving natural resources.  In this book, he introduces youngsters to the fascinating subject of bird life, as he tells an appealing story.

The Burgess Bird Book for Children, Back Cover, Unabridged Dover Edition

And the story form is what makes this nature book so special.

In the same style as the Burgess animal stories, we learn about:

  • Blackbirds.
  • Swallows.
  • Bluebirds.
  • Bobolinks.
  • Bobwhite quail.
  • Nighthawks.
  • Cardinals.
  • Meadowlarks.
  • Flycatchers.
  • Cowbirds.
  • Grackles.
  • Crows.
  • Cuckoos.
  • Morning doves.
  • Eagles.
  • Finches.
  • Herons.
  • Woodpeckers.
  • Geese.
  • Hummingbirds.
  • Wrens.
  • Many, many more!

Their stories are told via characters such as Fidget the Myrtle Warbler, Carol the Meadow Lark, Hairy the Woodpecker, and Mourner the Dove.

Beautiful illustrations of the real birds help with identification.

“How about me?” demanded a new voice, as a graceful form skimmed over Johnny Chuck’s head, and turning like a flash, came back. It was Forktail the Barn Swallow, the handsomest and one of the most graceful of all the Swallow family. He passed so close to Johnny that the latter had a splendid chance to see and admire his glistening steel-blue back and the beautiful chestnut-brown of his forehead and throat with its narrow black collar, and the brown to buff color of his under parts. But the thing that was most striking about him was his tail, which was so deeply forked as to seem almost like two tails.

A wonderful description!

The Burgess Bird Book makes an ideal family read-aloud, and lends itself very well to notebooking, as the numerous free go-along resources available attest! The color illustrations by Louis Agassiz Fuertes in the original make attractive additions to any bird study.

Its primary purpose is to interest the little child in, and to make him acquainted with, those feathered friends he is most likely to see. Because there is no method of approach to the child mind equal to the story, this method of conveying information has been adopted. So far as I am aware the book is unique in this respect. In its preparation an earnest effort has been made to present as far as possible the important facts regarding the appearance, habits and characteristics of our feathered neighbors. It is intended to be at once a story book and an authoritative handbook. While it is intended for little children, it is hoped that children of larger growth may find in it much of both interest and helpfulness.

Free eBook

  • Read two chapters each week to complete the book within a normal 32-week year.
  • Have your child complete a page for each bird mentioned. The page can include any or all of the following:
    • Picture of the bird.
    • Character’s name.
    • Bird name.
    • Identifying features.
    • Characteristics of the bird.
  • Begin identifying and learning about the birds in your area. You’ll find many incredible resources in the Bird lessons listed below.
  • We have included links to this book for our Nests & Eggs book study. Follow along!

Bird Call Challenge
See if you can identify the bird calls in your area.


First Book of Birds {Free eBook}
Meaty introduction to birds that makes a great go-along.

Unit Studies & Lesson Plans

Free Bird Studies: Nests & Eggs
Compete bird study referencing The Burgess Bird Book.

Audubon Unit Study
Activities, recommended books, unit study ideas, lesson plans, notebooking pages, charts, coloring books, bird guides, observation sheets, and much, much more!

Free Nature Studies: Our Wonderful World

Bird lessons from our Our Wonderful World book study:

Printables & Notebooking Pages

The Burgess Bird Book for Children
All of the color images from the book in one place for download.  Great for notebooking!

Nature Journal Notebooking Sets {Free Download}
Notebooking pages to make a bird book.

Bird Notebooking Pages
Or use this 51-page set of everything bird notebooking pages — free!

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