Monday, September 26, 2011

Black-Capped Chickadees - Outdoor Hour Challenge #7 - Black and White Birds

Over the upcoming three years, the girls will be learning about each state in the United States. I'm using "Cantering the Country" as a framework for this multi-disciplinary study.

As part of learning about each state, we are going to learn about the state bird, tree, and rock. Some states also have a state animal and insect.

Rather than just learn the names of these items (which the book offers), we're doing a nature study connected with each one of them. I'm using the Handbook of Nature Study blog which has the Outdoor Hour Challenges for homeschooling families.

The first state we studied this year was Maine. Maine's state bird is the black-capped chickadee.

Black-Capped Chickadee in Plum Tree
Black-capped chickadee in the backyard.

The girls did a number of things:

- Looked at pictures of the black-capped chickadee in two books: Birds of Minnesota Field Guide by Stan Tekiela and Black-capped Chickadee by Susan M. Smith. The latter book has some beautiful pictures of the chickadee in flight and drinking from an icicle.

A couple of interesting things from the Birds of Minnesota Field Guide include:

----->> They are usually the first bird to find a new feeder.

Black Capped Chickadee
We see chickadees quite frequently at this feeder
which is on the mudroom roof.
There's a window that is right by the feeder
so we get great, close-up views of the birds.

----->> Black-capped chickadees can be easily tamed or hand fed. (Of course, both girls want to do this!)

----->> Much of its diet comes from bird feeders.

----->> The birds need to feed each day in winter.

Chickadee Eating Bird Pizza
One year we made bird pizza.
The recipe was in a book that had variety of suet and seed mixes.
The chickadees enjoyed the special treat.

----->> They line their nests with green moss and animal fur.

----->> Chickadees are about 5" long.

- Read some interesting facts about chickadees in The Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock. The following facts are paraphrased from the book:

----->> Chickadees appear in small flocks in the winter and often in company with the nuthatches.

----->> Chickadees work on the twigs and ends of the branches.

----->> They hunt insect eggs.

----->> They can be enticed to a yard or orchard beef suet.

Black Capped Chickadee on Feeder
We make suet blocks each winter and hang them in the trees.
The birds enjoy eating the suet.
Even on very cold days, they are eating from the feeders.

----->> The nest is 6-10 feet above the ground, and has about 8 eggs in the spring.

----->> In February, the chickadees' song changes to "fee-bee" in an effort to attract a female.

----->> Both males and female chickadees look the same.

- We all wrote in our nature journals about the black-capped chickadee and what we wanted to remember about this bird.

Sophia's nature journal entry about black-capped chickadees.
The 4 pennies represent how much a chickadee weighs.

My journal entry.
(I know my skill is not in drawing birds.)

- The girls colored a picture of a black-capped chickadee in their book called State Birds and Flowers Coloring Book by Annika Bernhard.

Olivia's colored picture of the black-capped chickadee.
Each page has information about the bird and flower
including the Latin names for each one.

- Did a crossword puzzle about Maine which included a reference to the black-capped chickadee.

Sophia's completed crossword puzzle.
This is from the "Cantering the Country" curriculum.

- The girls colored pages in their book United States Coloring Book by Rod and Staff Publishers. Each two-page spread shows the state they are studying about as well as some highlights and facts about the state. The state bird is included with each illustration.

The black-capped chickadee got a colorful makeover by Olivia.
Earlier this month, we traveled to see
the lighthouse that is pictured above.

- Completed a word find about birds. This is from Considering God's Creation which came with the "Cantering the Country" curriculum bundle. (I purchased reference and activity books that were included with the curriculum at the homeschool conference this past spring.)

Olivia's completed word find.
She enjoyed finding the words
and learning some new things about birds in the process.

- Doing the "Animal Detective" sheet about black-capped chickadees. This sheet also is from the Considering God's Creation book.

One of the interesting things we learned and discussed
while doing this sheet
was how air sacs and lungs work together in the breathing process.

- This nature study also reminded me that I have a variety of small cross-stitch pieces that need to be incorporated into a final product.

Black Capped Chickadee Cross Stitch
Black-capped chickadee in cross-stitch that I did.
It's tiny - only about 2" in both directions.

The next bird that we study is the purple finch - the state bird of New Hampshire.

As for Maine, we plan to learn about the white pine tree. The nice thing is - there are white pine trees in the of which is Olivia's favorite tree that she's been studying since the spring.


marymakesmusic said...

I am struck by what beautiful work your children have done! I think you can draw birds pretty well, too, by the way!

We have tons of Black Capped Chickadees at our feeders now. They are so pretty!

Barb-Harmony Art Mom said...

No chickadees in our yard. :(

I loved seeing your new focus with the state birds as part of your nature study...wonderful way to enrich your study. Lovely journals done by all, including your bird.

Thanks so much for sharing your link with the OHC.

Ellen said...

This is wonderful! My boys and I are studying birds and are very excited about spotting ones at our new feeder. We still need to put up another bird feeder so that more birds will visit during the winter. We've seen plenty of chickadees and love listening to them. Surprised, really, by the sounds they make.

Zonnah said...

I love how you added the pennies to the journal for their weight; such a great idea.

Jamie said...

Hi there,
Just wanted to let you know (I don't have everyone's email) that your submission to the Carnival of Homeschooling is live at If you could check to make sure your links are working, and then refer back to the carnival post from your blog - that would be great! Thanks...