Sunday, June 1, 2008

Week 1: Birds

The theme for our first week of summer is "Birds". My kids and I are excited about this week because we love birds and have been looking for an excuse to study more about them.


We'll start out the week by doing a search of our own book shelves for books about birds. Here are a few classic stories that we found on ours:

Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen

I highly recommend reading this book. The language is pure poetry. Each word falls easily from the tongue, wrapping the listener in a warm blanket to protect them from the cold night. The illustrations are secondary and only enhance the image in the reader's mind created by the words.
The story portrays a real-life situation, that shows the relationship between the father and child. Together they experience the thrill of nature, specifically the great horned owl. This story also teaches the rewards of patience, anticipation and hope.

Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey

Another classic, "Make Way for Ducklings" tells the delightful story of a family of ducks in Boston, Massachusetts. It's a sweet story that shows the thoughtful and considerate actions of the community to help the family reunite in the "perfect" place to raise ducklings. Surely, you've read this book before, but it's one to enjoy and savor often. If you haven't read it yet, you're in for a wonderful treat.

Next, we'll take a trip to our local library to see what other books on birds we can find. This is a great opportunity to teach younger children how to search the library database for books on a certain subject. Please let us know what great bird books you find.

Some books to look for:

Bird Songs: 250 North American Birds in Song by Les Beletsky and Jon L. Dunn

The Audubon Backyard Birdwatcher: Birdfeeders and Bird Gardens by Robert Burton and Stephen Kress

Birds, Nests & Eggs (Take-Along Guides) by Mel Boring

There Is a Bird On Your Head! (Elephant and Piggie) by Mo Willems


Yahoo Kids has a section on birds that answers qestions about birds such as "how does a bird fly?" and "why do birds sing?". It also includes lists of birds with pictures and information.

Watch a video of a hummingbird on the San Diego Zoo website.

Get to know more about a penguin or soar with a Golden Eagle on the Animal Planet website.

Find a wealth of information, games and activities, including print-out coloring sheets on the National Aviary website.

Learn to identify birds by their songs and find cool facts about birds on the BBC website.


Planet Earth: the Complete BBC Series features several sections on birds. Be especially sure to check out Disk 3: Jungles: Chapter 1 which shows tropical birds of paradise engaged in dances to attract a mate.

March of the Penguins is a beautiful documentary that follows the struggles and life of the emperor penguin in Antartica.

The Life of Birds is a multi-disc series produced by BBC that focuses on bird behavior.


Build a bird house together. If you don't have a lot of tools on hand, kits can often be purchased at hobby stores.

Consider building a nesting box to attract a barn owl. Did you know that a family of barn owls can consume over 3000 rodents a season? Check out sites like to learn more.

Hang a bird feeder in your yard. A hummingbird feeder can attract beautiful birds to see and enjoy.

Keep a list of birds that you see. Birds are everywhere and watching for them can be very enjoyable and rewarding. Just the other day my children enjoyed watching a common European Starling search for food in a dumpster while we waited in the drive-thru line.

Consider purchasing a book to help in identifying the birds that you see. Our family has two. "Birds of North America" published by DK has beautiful full-page pictures of the birds in North America and detailed information about each bird. It also weighs ten pounds and is difficult to take with us when we go bird watching. We have a second bird guide that is smaller and easy to pack. A good pair of binoculars are nice but not necessary for the casual bird watcher.

Keep your eyes open and you will be amazed at how many different species you can see. On a fishing trip last week to Strawberry Reservoir, the fish weren't biting but we did enjoy seeing many American White Pelicans, four Great Blue Heron, Western Grebes, a Golden Eagle, two Red Tailed Hawks, California Gulls and a pair of nesting Canadian Geese.

Utah Wildlife Resources has a great website to help in the identification of birds. It lists the species found in Utah and includes maps to show the area where each species lives.


The Tracy Aviary is located in Liberty Park in Salt Lake City, Utah. Tracy Aviary is open from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm every day and features bird shows at 11 am and 1 pm. The rates are: adults - $5, children 4-12 - $3, and children under 4 - free.

Feed the ducks and geese. Most ponds at parks have ducks and geese. Children love to feed them. Bring the old bread and enjoy.

The Hogle Zoo hosts a bird show each day. It features many different species including tropical birds and birds of prey. Enjoy the other animals while you're there. The zoo is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm each day. The rates are: adults - $8, children 3-12 - $6, and children under 3 - free.

The Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge is in Northern Utah. The auto route is open during day light hours each day and the James V. Hansen Wildlife Education Center offers interactive exhibits from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm week days and from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on Saturdays.


Epperson Family said...

Great ideas! My 5 yr. old is a little info. reader, not into regular stories like me. This will help me a ton this summer.

Michael & Tiffany said...

Thanks for sharing the ideas!

Kevin & Rhiannon said...

Cindi, you are amazing. Are other activities allowed during the bird week (is it pretty flexible) or is it solely about birds only?

Cindi said...

We're very flexible. I've included a lot and a variety of ideas, but we will only do some of the activities. We pick and choose those that fit the needs of my children and my budget best. Oh, and if the kids want to read a book about something else this week, I'm certainly not going to stop them. :)