She studies dead things

Rachel found this female cardinal on our front porch, already dead.  She thought it would be a good idea to bring it inside the house and draw a picture of it.  She investigated and studied every angle.  She gently spread wings and noted every tiny detail.  She experimented with different poses, but the floppy bird would not pose.

She found a way around the problem though.

She drew her picture.

She buried the bird.

Then she cried for the “poor little bird.”

Was he here all along?

Was I blind, but now I see?

Surely, this little guy didn’t just decide to show up THIS year, the year that I decided we will study our local birds. 

At first, he was just a flash of red deep in the woods.  But over the past 2 weeks, he has become bolder and come closer to the house.

I saw him perching outside the kitchen window yesterday with a large-winged insect in his beak.  I’ve even caught flashes of him whizzing by the windows in the family room while reading to the girls.

I believe he is a Scarlet Tanager.

Isn’t he an amazingly beautiful creation?

An unexpected find

I twisted Sidney’s arm  invited my 11 yo son to be a guest blogger today. 

I thought I was being sly —– combining nature study with a writing assignment and using free child labor to get my blogging done for me.  But I think he saw through me.

Thank you for humoring me anyway, Sidney.


Last Sunday, I was walking down the driveway to see Dad at the workshop.  I was going to ask him a question, but I can’t remember what it was.  I was about to turn the last curve when something moved on the ground in front of me.  I looked closer.  It was a snake, but a small one on the driveway.  I picked it up.  It tried to bite me, but I held it right behind the head, so it couldn’t.

I took it the rest of the way to the workshop, where I found Dad and Grandpaw doing something on the tractor.

“Look what I found,” I said.

“That’s a king snake,” Grandpaw said.

King snakes can bite, but they have no venom, and they are immune to other venomous snake bites.  They will kill and eat other snakes, including venomous ones.

I put it in a bucket of dirt, and it stayed with just it’s head sticking out.  I waited for a few minutes, and then Dad started the tractor to drive back up to the house.

When we got back, I showed everyone the snake, and Rachel held it for a few minutes.

Then we let it go.

It climbed a tree and was gone.


Sidney released the snake between the house and garden.  I am hoping our little friend will take up residence, raise a family and keep the poisonous copperheads away.

Birdy Wordy Wednesday

Evidence of our unstructured, drop-everything-we’re-doing-because-we-see-birds-out-the-window nature study.

It isn’t well-planned out, and it is kind of chaotic, but the kids are having fun identifying birds.  My friend, Dawn, has a better-planned, organized approach that looks quite do-able.

We have also been reading Anne Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study that Dawn mentions.  I wish I had got this book long ago.  Comstock wrote it in 1918. 

Though she suggests that the parent should read the “Teacher’s Story” and then deliver the bird information to the child in an easy, conversational manner (and this approach works well here), I elected to read the “Teacher’s Story” aloud.  I was curious to see how Comstock’s 92-year-old turn-of-phrase would fall upon the children’s ears.  Happily, the children find her writings as charming as I do.