Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Things I am learning about Bird-Watching

* It is totally addictive. Once you start noticing and spotting species, you can't stop!

* Children love it. It is a wonderful way for them to connect more with the natural world around them, to become better observers, and of course to learn about the native species around where they live.

* You have to be prepared to drop everything when a bird lands nearby. You don't know how long you've got to check distinctive features and grab the binoculars and field guide if you need them. I've often turned off the boiling pot on the stove or jumped up from the computer (precious time!) when a child calls me because they've spotted a new bird. It's worth it though!

* Birds often move around in couples or family groups. The two lorrikeets or the two dozen finches visiting your garden each afternoon are probably the same ones day after day. It's like having no-maintanance pets! The children grow to watch for them, enjoy putting out seed for them, and anticipate their visits.

* There are so many more species of birds native to each area than I ever imagined! It has been a joy to learn more about them alongside the children. Saraya often asks me "Is this a rare bird?" with a hopeful look in her eye. :) Not many of those yet, but you never know!

* You need a good field guide sitting in a central spot in the house to refer to when you need it. We own the "Birds of Australia - Photographic Field Guide" by Jim Flegg, and it's excellent. We often take it with us on Nature Walks too- or in the car if we're going for a picnic or day trip. You just never know when you might want it handy! Ours is often sitting on the island in our kitchen and Saraya will just sit and read it over breakfast- she knows more than I do by now, I'm sure.

* Observing and learning about birds is a lovely thing to do alongside your children. Birds also make lovely additions to my children's Nature Notebooks - one of our favourite homeschool activities. These are some of the bird illustrations Saraya has done after spotting birds in our area:

(this was a brightly coloured Moorhen- possibly not this brightly coloured, but close!)

I always ask Saraya to date and label her drawings, and sometimes she adds more written description herself or dictates to me what she would like written.

I even had a go at a Double-barred Finch last week because they have become one of my favourite little garden visitors. I keep a Nature Notebook too (as does Elijah) because it's a relaxing thing to do and nice to sit with the children and work together. I've always been a bit afraid of drawing, but copying the birds straight from the field guide is giving me more confidence!!

Do you have a favourite feathered visitor to your garden?


Helen said...

Lovely drawings you guys! We love birds too! We often get a whole bunch of those Rainbow Lorikeets come and sit on our verandah railing. I think they have been "watching" us as they seem to know when we are eating and come down to get their bit too! We occasionally get the cockatoo "fly over and scream" en masse which can be quite frightening! Bird watching could only be made nicer with a patchwork quilt and large patchwork cushions spread out on lovely soft green grass, surrounded by willow trees and a softly babbling brook, a jug of wine, a crusty loaf, some strawberries, perhaps some pate and some chocolate (and the knowledge that the little woman from the village has popped up and done all the housework and left a hot meal in the oven). Sigh......love you!

Sandra said...

What a great way to spend the day! Saraya's art work is lovely. I like the Moor hen. And you aren't too shabby yourself with your drawing, hmm. Rather a good job I thought.
Rowan bought a lorikeet puppet on the weekend and is sleeping with him at the moment. Nothing too exciting bird wise in our back yard, but looking as we drive locally (or walk) we see some interesting parrots and cockatoos.
My dad loved the wading bird that used to eat grubs in our sump every year, because it had come all the way from Siberia.

Heather said...

I love Saraya's artwork! Children's art always makes me smile :)

Yours was lovely too!

Karen said...

Our neighbor has a multitude of feeders which we can see from our dining room table. The most common animal seen there is not a bird; it's a squirrel. And we've counted up to 15 there at one time. We also enjoy seeing goldfinches, cardinals, bluejays, mourning doves and woodpeckers.

...they call me mommy... said...

COOL!!! I'm SO doing Nature Journals with the kids this year!! We DO have a bird book and look up birds at our feeders all the time...

My favorite birds in our area are Black Capped Chickadees & Nuthatches...Tuffed Titmouses are pretty cute also!

I'm going to do this! Thanks for the reminder about how fun this is and inspiration! Can't wait to see what the kids come up with!

Ann at eightacresofeden said...

I'm just starting a new unit study with my children and calling it 'Bushland Stories.' I want to improve their creative writing skills so I am using nature study one of their favourite things to do to stimulate their minds. Interestingly, I have chosen birds as their first topic.
Yesterday WIRES returned a koala we rescued off the road at the bottom of the driveway a month ago. She needed treatment for her eyes and responded well. She was released up a gum tree near to the house... will have to go and see if she is still there!

AmFriend said...

WOW Saminda, I don't why you're afraid of drawing your artwork is excellent, IMHO. And love Saraya's pictures too. Not much of a birder, but can see how it could be a relaxing, addictive experience.

Lindsey Carver said...

It sounds like I am missing out on something fabulous here in the suburbs of Texas! I love how ya'll draw the birds in such detail!

Renata said...

You're very good at drawing - no wonder your children are so artistic!
I love the nature journal idea.
You're right about the birds - I saw a kookaburra on our washing line this morning & so grabbed the camera & crept outside, but by the time I went around the side of the house it had flown away.


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