When it looks like this outside, a nature walk may be the last thing you want to do. Sure, there are some great things not to miss by going outdoors on a cold day. Especially after a fresh snowfall, looking at the tracks left by various animals is always good. We enjoy a listening walk at least once during the winter. One of the most calming sounds is that of snow falling through trees. Who knew quiet could have a sound? One winter study we’ve not done – yet – is nests. With the leaves gone, this time of year is perfect to find some of the more hidden nests.
But what about those days it is just too cold to safely be out or so windy your little ones might blow away? We choose to do nature study indoors. The best times of nature study indoors are often the impromptu studies begun by a new bird at the feeder.
We have numerous feeders placed not just in optimal places for the birds in our area, but also for good viewing from the windows of the family room and dining room. These happen to be the rooms we are in the most during school time. Convenient, right? We have sketch pads handy in the dining room and the bird guides (and Google) available in the family room.
Some of our favorite visitors are woodpeckers. We mostly have downy and red-belly woodpeckers. On rare occasion, we have a pileated woodpecker visit. Eastern bluebirds are around, but too shy to get too close. I love northern mockingbirds, too. That flash of white on their outstretched wings always catches my eye. Black-capped chickadees, nuthatches and tufted titmice are our most common birds seen this time of year.
My eldest daughter is our resident “bird expert”. She is hoping most to see a cedar waxwing. We’ve seen a few when out other places, but never at home. Should we ever have any come to call you can bet there will be one very excited girl here.
Cardinals frequent the areas we have feeders set up. They are usually eating what has dropped to the ground rather than coming to the feeder itself. They also spend a lot of time in our chicken yard. Chickens are messy eaters so there is much food scattered about. The flashy red of the males is easy for even the youngest to identify. The females are much more muted, but easier to spot in winter compared to other seasons.
Another favorite indoor nature study is to examine specimens gathered earlier in the year. This month, the Handbook of Nature Study blog has featured rocks. Subscribe to the blog to download the newsletter with ideas and helps. January’s newsletter featuring the rock study is only available until the end of the month, so get it now!
Looking for more winter nature study? Check out the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog Cruise on Tuesday the 29th. Other Crew members will be sharing about winter nature study.