Nature Curriculum Week 14-Winter Birds.

When we moved we brought our bird feeder with us.  Back in the UK it always looked rather too small with huge pigeons trying to balance on it, starlings fighting on it, and magpies insuring no little birds made it close 🙁  Here, however, it has been a totally different story.  There seems to always be a flock of various birds on it, and our little lady is so pleased as is it placed on the lawn that is outside her bedroom window.  I fly through bird seed and fat balls, and we have already made up our own treats mixing seeds and nuts in with lard.  I have noticed though, that the birds here do seem a little plumper, perhaps suggesting we are not the only ones caring for them!!  So this week’s topic in the nature curriculum was one we could enjoy from the comfort of our own back garden.  We chose three species of bird we see a lot out there, and decided then to use spotter sheets and books to help us draw them (rather than using the constantly moving real ones!).

We decided on the sparrow, blue tit, and the robin.  They are all quite tame here too, and will happily carry on feeding while we potter around the garden and go in and out the back door, as long as we aren’t right next to the feeder.  It’s been a lovely experience for the children getting to see lots of different small birds up close.  The mini men had a good go at drawing their birds, and I was pleased they tried so hard before losing their patience and moving onto another activity.  The little lady and I at least managed to make them vaguely bird shaped, and then wrote some winter facts about them.  The most fascinating fact I learnt today was that birds can constrict the blood flow to their feet, and make the cold blood returning from the feet warm again to keep their core temperature up.  Very clever, not wasting heat on some areas, and not letting that cool blood lower the rest of the blood’s temperature.

I had not managed to source any of the fiction recommended for this week (as is the case for a few weeks in the year) before we left the UK, so we tucked back into the long Moomin story we are reading (in front of the log fire with hot chocolate and kanelbullar).  We enjoyed the poem “A Bird Came Down The Walk” by Emily Dickinson, and chatted about the piece of art “Cock and Hen Pheasant in Winter” by Archibold Thorburn.  The recommended extension activities involve creating a feeding station near a window, and creating a graph to see who visits it and the number of each species.  We have the feeding station topped up right outside a window and all three use it to watch them.  Our little lady owns British Gardenlife Spotters Handbook (and whilst I realise my own geography is notoriously bad, I do realise we aren’t in Britain, but apart from the odd moose, the garden wildlife doesn’t differ that much), so instead of graphs, she is ticking off the birds that she spots.

The other thing that we have been doing is the homemade snacks for the birds.  This is so easy to do, and I just use some bird feed from a shop bought bag to make it simple, but the children like making the snacks.  We first learnt to do this in Forest School back in the UK.  You melt lard, and then mix in the seed (or whatever yummy concoction you like), and then pop it into some sort of container.  We have used an empty half coconut shell in the past, but what makes it very festive, is half an orange skin, with the orange removed.  Nice and bright too.  Skewer 2 wooden kebab sticks through it and tie string to the four points, and hang 🙂  We also made festive shapes; the little lady did a fairy and a toadstool, and the mini men did a star and a heart each.  We put them in the fridge to go solid again and then we will put them into a fat ball feeder…you can thread festive red ribbon through them and hang them up.  Another idea we didn’t get time to do today, was rolling pine cones in peanut butter, and then rolling them in bird seed 🙂  They did all have a lot of fun making it for the birds… we watch and wait!.

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