Welcome nature journalers! It’s hard to believe that the month of May is coming to an end, but the recent weather is certainly a reminder that Summer is right around the corner!
Observing parent birds gathering food and visiting their nests is a great nature journaling activity. It can help us to learn to sketch birds at various stages of their lives, to identify different nest structures, and to notice new behaviors and patterns. Not only do birds have unique calls and colorations, but nest structure is often different for different types of birds as well!
Here are some local birds and what to look for when searching for their nests (taken from Clare Walker Leslie’s The Nature Connection).
Chickadees and Woodpeckers: Both birds will nest in holes in trees. Chickadees will occupy old holes, whereas woodpeckers will excavate a new nest hole.
Phoebes and Swallows: These nest are easy to identify because of how unique and gravity-defying they seem to be at times! Made of mud, these semicircular nests are caked onto the sides of buildings underneath eaves that provide additional shelter!
Hawks, Ravens, Crows and Eagles: These raptors and the like will make large nests out of pretty substantial sticks. Often found toward the tops of trees.
You can help some of your local bird species by providing nesting materials for them to use! Lay out supplies such as wool yarn, dryer lint or even hair from your hairbrush and see if anyone stops by to pick them up! We have a felt dog ball in the backyard that has recently been torn to shreds by some Tufted Titmice who used it for nesting material!
In your nature journal this week, see if you can identify some of the birds that might be nesting near your home, or in your favorite green spaces. You can record what behaviors they are displaying that indicate they may be nesting. If you are able to get your hands on a pair of binoculars you can track their movements to try to figure out where their nest is! You can even take note of what kind of food the parent birds are taking to their young (caterpillars, grubs, dragonflies, etc.). Make a list of what materials are used for the bird’s nest as well as any additional observations you make. Be sure to be making sketches while you watch!
Bonus Challenge: We all know that parent birds have to bring food to their nests, but can you figure out what they need to remove from nests as the nestlings grow? You can either find a nest to observe, or do some research online to learn this surprising fact about birds!
I hope you are all able to observe some new bird activity and as always, if you find anything interesting and would like to share your recordings/observations, be sure to email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy journaling!
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