Wednesday, May 10, 2017

April 2017

One morning, we decided to go to Kyker Bottoms Wildlife Refuge to see if we could see some tadpoles.  There were lots of them, and some had already grown their legs.  The ones we found were toad tadpoles.     
  Here are some ways to tell toad and frog tadpoles apart are. (1, Toad tadpoles are black during the day, while frog tadpoles are brown with spots, stripes and clear spots.  (2, Toad tadpoles have football shaped eyeballs, and are smaller than frogs.  (3, Frog tadpoles hide from the sun during the hottest part of the day, stay in one place for long periods of time, and tend to wander independently.  Toads, on the other hand, will sit in the direct sun, flick their tails even if they are not swimming, and gather in schools near the edges of banks. 
We also found a Black Swallowtail caterpillar on some parsley from our garden.  Last year we found about five or six of them.

For the past three years we have had a chickadee come and lay eggs in our birdhouse.  The eggs are white with orange/brown speckles.  We also had a robin nesting in a tree beside our house.  Their eggs are blue with darker blue speckles.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Baby Birds...A Lesson Learned

Baby Robins in our backyard.

We have had several kinds of birds come to our yard and nest, including Blue Jays, Robins, Chickadees, Mourning Doves, etc.  Just a few days ago, we made a huge mistake.  Moses saw what we guessed was a crow.  It looked like it was still a nestling, and we thought that it had fallen out of it's nest, so we decided to pick it up and see if we could help it.  After contacting experts, we were surprised by what we learned.  

These Carolina Chickadees fledged the day after this photo was taken.

All birds are different, but most birds that you will find in your yard, will leave the nest about two weeks after they hatch.   They are fully feathered and will be able to flap, hop, and try to fly short distances.    They will stay on the ground for 2-5 days.  During this time, the parents keep close watch over the fledglings because it still can't take care of itself or fly.   The parents also continue to feed the baby, help it to recognize predators, and teach it to fly.

If you find a baby bird you should leave it on the ground or you could keep it from learning it's basic survival skills.  If you are convinced it is too young to be out of the nest and  you know where the nest is, carefully place it back in the nest.   

This is the baby bird that we found.  Moses was able to walk right up to it and pick it up.  It would not eat from us and was able to hop and fly short distances.  We placed it back where we found it after we realized our mistake.  His parents were able to continue caring for him.

Moses putting the baby back where it was

Here is a video we took of the Chickadees that hatched in one of our birdhouses.   We got to see them the day they hatched.   We also got to see them take their final flight from the nest.  We watched one of them learning to make its way around in some brush!!!

By Ethan

Friday, February 20, 2015


Recently we put together this gift for our cousin. 
Ours consisted of a bug vacuum, a straw for sucking up whatever little creepy-crawlys you happen to find, a container, a pair of tweezers, and a half-gallon jar covered with cheesecloth.
                     Below are some book ideas: Pets in a Jar, Pet Bugs, and More Pet Bugs.
                                                        There are also a few links below.
                        Pet Bugs: A Kid's Guide to Catching and Keeping Touchable Insects 
      More Pet Bugs: A Kid's Guide to Catching and Keeping Insects and Other Small Creatures
                           Pets in a Jar: Collecting and Caring for Small Wild Animals
    Although almost any container will do, a jar would probably be your best option.  A cheesecloth           covering is great because it gives the animal a lot of air, and you also don't have to poke holes in all          
                                                                          of your lids.

Friday, October 31, 2014


O.K, I have to admit that this was probably the most disgusting thing that I have ever done (and I've done a lot of very gross things). Here are a couple of the foods served at the Buggy Buffet: 
 chocolate-covered cricket, cricket meatloaf, weevil soup, and the real kind of ants-on-a-log.
 They had some very cool insect collections, along with some live ones to. 
 They also had a Silent Auction with tons of totally neat art-work, bugs, and bug-related items. 

 In the near future (about 2050) the earths population is expected to reach 9 billion, and this means we might just have to take up INSECT FARMING (totally gross)!!! 

 We will definitely be going back next year! 


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Getting Your Family Interested In Nature Study

I've had a few moms ask me how my kids got interested in learning about birds and insects, so I thought I'd just share our experience.   It really all started with a simple bird feeder and  this book Birds of Tennessee Field Guide.   My dad got us this book one year for Christmas and I stuck it in a drawer.   We had put up a bird feeder and a birdhouse (for decor) outside our living room window.  One day we saw some amazing birds at the feeder.   One of them we have not seen was a Rose Breasted Grosbeak.   We could not believe how beautiful this bird was and I remembered that bird book!  We pulled it out and identified our first bird.  Then, we noticed a bird going in and out of the birdhouse that I had put up...strictly for looks. When we checked inside, there were tiny little eggs!   Then the eggs hatched and we watched the birds grow and fly away.  We also got the book out to identify them as Carolina Chickadees.   Luke, who was then 7, started looking through the book and then started reading it...cover to cover.   One huge blessing out of this, was that he had struggled with reading or really being interested in it at all.  He had become so interested in these birds that he just had to read about them!  He wore that book out and we had to order another one!

Robin's nest in our yard

What was so great, was that we were all of a sudden aware of all the birds around us.   We had never really noticed them before.  Now we were seeing them everywhere and we wanted to know what kind they were.  

We had always liked hiking, camping, and being outdoors in general.  Chad, my husband, had always been great about helping the kids catch frogs, bug, snakes, etc.  However, we had been missing so much!   We got some more field guides and we all began to learn about all of God's amazing creatures that were right around us the whole time.

We are not experts, and my kids know WAY more than I do, but, here is what has worked for us:

*Bird Feeders -  Go to your local stores and just pick out a feeder and seed, nectar, or a thistle sock.   Hang them up somewhere around your house where you are sure to see them everyday by just looking out the window.   Also...try some Suet!   We've seen some of the coolest birds on our suet.  You'll find it in with bird seed.

Thistle Sock and Goldfinches
Red-Bellied Woodpecker and Northern Cardinal on Suet
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird at our Hummingbird feeder
*Birdhouses -  These are a fun family project!  Make them from scratch, buy a kit, or by one preassembled.   Hang it up where you can easily watch it.  You can look online for how to make and hang a house for specific birds.   There is nothing like observing birds, all the way from making a nest, to the babies flying away.

* Field Guides  -   I'm going to list some of our favorites (affiliate links).    We've found them at yard sales, thrift stores, book stores and online.

*  As homeschoolers, nature study has become a huge part of our schooling.   This book, Handbook of Nature Study, has been great!   I take it everywhere we go and we use it to look up just about everything.   It sometimes gives us little observation activities and gets us investigating and thinking.    It's not just about wildlife, we've learned about erosion while at the river and trees and roots while hiking.   It's a wonderful resource!

Milkweed Pod

*Nature Stories - There are so many great books out there.  I never realized how educational fiction can be!   Ethan has read the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series and learned about wolves, owls, snakes and more.   We've grown to love Thornton Burgess books!     Jack's Insects (Yesterday's Classics) is an amazing book for older kids.  Books like this played a huge part in us growing to love learning about creation.  My kids got into the characters of these books without even realizing they were learning about different animals.

Favorite Thornton Burgess Animal Stories Boxed Set (Sets)

*Be prepared!  -  Try to keep things with you like binoculars, jars, buckets, nets, etc.   We also try to take at least 10 - 15 minutes to nature journal when we go out.  Don't be afraid to get dirty and keep your eyes out for things you've never seen before!

*  I think the biggest thing for us has been turning off the tv and getting rid of video games.   Every family is different, and we have our moments,  but this has been huge for us.   We never watched a ton, but, now it's hardly any at all.  Our kids hardly ever get bored now.   I've seen their love for the outdoors and their curiosity and creativity go through the roof over the past year.  Also, their growing love for reading has been such a blessing!

Find things you and your kids are interested in.   Look for good books to read about that topic.  Find places in your area to go and get away from everyday life....wildlife refuges, birding parks, gardens, etc.   Also, seek out organizations in your area that will help  you learn more.   We found our local Ornithology group and they have poured into my kids and it has been a huge help!   Pray for God to make your family stand in awe as you observe His creation...I believe He will!

Posted by Momma

Monday, October 20, 2014


Red Tailed Hawk.               

Here is what I have learned about birds: 

A bird's beak is made out of the same stuff our
nails are made out of, which is keratin.  They have strong
scaly legs and sharp toe nails. All birds are
different from each other.  Most of the time male and female birds look different.  In some species, the male and female look alike.

Red Tailed Hawk.

All birds have feathers,
two strong powerful wings, and one
strong beak.  Some birds have curved
beaks, some birds have long beaks,
some birds have short plump bills.  Not all
birds can fly,  like the Kiwi Bird.
Birds lay their eggs in nests,  but all
nests are not the same.  Some bids
make their nests on the ground,
in cliffs,  city's,  trees, holes,  poles,
or stands.  some birds are herbivores,
some birds are carnivores,  some are
 omnivores.  All birds
have different songs except the
northern mockingbird,  who mocks other birds.
Lots of birds migrate.

 I love birds and I love to learn
more about them!

Posted by Luke