Archive for the ‘Fun for Birders’ Category

Spotted Towhee in the snow. Stock photo.

Spotted Towhee

Well, here we are. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and the start of Hannukah. It’s so easy to get “wrapped up” in our holiday preparations that we forget to include the birds in the festivities.

If you’re looking for a way to spread some cheer to our feathered friends, I’ve assembled a short list (very short, so we can all get right back to our holiday plans) to help us do just that.

1. Make a birdseed and suet wreath for the birds. Suet is a very helpful dietary component for birds during the cold winter months, and this oldie-but-goodie article will show you how to make a wreath they’ll really enjoy. Add dried mealworms for extra nutrition. Don’t forget the bow!

2. Give an end-of-the-year gift to your favorite nature charity. The larger nature foundations do wonderful work and have a reach that is far and wide, but did you know local wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centers need your gifts the most? If you’re in the Pacific Northwest, you can find one close to you here.

3. After Christmas, give your tree, wreaths, and garlands to the birds. Recycle your tree and pine boughs, etc., by turning them into protection against harsh weather and predators. Learn more in this article from Cornell.


Learn more about your backyard birds in Birds of the Pacific Northwest: How to Identify 25 of the Most Popular Backyard Birds. Get it for your Kindle (which you can also read on your PC, Mac, smartphone, or tablet with this free reading app), Nook, on Smashwords, or in the iTunes bookstore.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Have you heard? Coloring books are all the rage with adults now. Not kids’ coloring books necessarily, but coloring books illustrated and published with adults in mind, too. From Zentangle to books featuring mandalas, grown-ups everywhere are finding coloring to be an old-hobby-made-new-again. For many, it’s a way to unwind and even be meditative. Personally, I enjoy listening to audio books or podcasts when I’m able to find time to color or do some other hands-on type of hobby or craft.

And what’s better than relaxing while coloring and feeling like a kid again? Not much, unless you throw in being able to learn something at the same time…like bird identification.

Peterson Field Guides Color-In Books: Birds

Peterson Field Guides Color-In Books: Birds

I was so pleased to discover Birds recently, part of the Peterson Field Guide Color-In Books series. Written by Peter Alden and John Sill and using illustrations based on Roger Tory Peterson‘s famous drawings and watercolors, this fun book can be used by anyone who wants to learn more about our North American birds.

Over 230 numbered bird stickers are included, which can be placed inside the book next to the bird you’ll be coloring. Each bird in the book is represented by a black and white drawing and a short paragraph that describes the bird and tells you a tidbit about it that you might not have already known. For example, did you know that the Great Blue Heron, number 7 in the book, is sometimes mistakenly called a “Blue Crane”?

Use whichever medium you like best with this book. Pencils and paints are recommended on the cover, but it seems to me like paints would seep through. Markers (again, there’s the possibility of the ink seeping through), colored pencils, or even crayons can also be used. I use a pack of 50 colored pencils that I purchased from Amazon, and they’ve been working very well for coloring the birds. Having at least 50 colors at my disposal gives me more choices for colors, of course, and the kid in me just thinks it’s cool to have so many. (You should have heard my giddy laugh when they arrived in the mail.) Colored pencils or crayons, in my opinion, make it easier to blend colors — a trick I learned from an artist friend of my mom’s when I was very young.

The first birds I tackled in the book were bluebirds: Mountain, Eastern, and Western. From there, I moved on to a Chestnut-backed Chickadee and then a Yellow Warbler and I’m still coloring away. You can see them all, below. What do you think? Looks like fun, doesn’t it?

Eastern, Western, and Mountain Bluebirds in the Peterson "Birds" color-in field guide.

Eastern, Western, and Mountain Bluebirds in the Peterson "Birds" color-in field guide.

Chestnut-backed Chickadee in the Peterson "Birds" color-in field guide.

Chestnut-backed Chickadee in the Peterson "Birds" color-in field guide.

Yellow Warbler in the Peterson "Birds" color-in field guide.

Yellow Warbler in the Peterson "Birds" color-in field guide.

If I can do this, so can you! Placing the stickers next to the birds really does help when it comes to matching colors and getting the markings correct. Coloring these birds — which uses not only visual but also kinesthetic (hands on) learning — has really helped solidify their appearance in my mind…almost on a new level. And if that’s what it did for birds I already know well, I can’t wait to tackle other birds in the book.

It isn’t just song birds that are covered in this color-in field guide. You’ll find raptors, waterfowl, woodpeckers, and more. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Links to purchase:

Peterson Field Guide Color-In Books: Birds by Peter Alden and John Sill

Crayola Colored Pencils, pack of 50

You might also like:

Nature’s Mandalas

Adult Coloring Books: A Collection of Coloring Books for Adults; Featuring Mandalas, Flowers, and Geometric Designs by Coloring Books for Adults

Creative Coloring Inspirations: Art Activity Pages to Relax and Enjoy by Valentina Harper

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Learn more about your backyard birds in Birds of the Pacific Northwest: How to Identify 25 of the Most Popular Backyard Birds. Get it for your Kindle (which you can also read on your PC, Mac, smartphone, or tablet with this free reading app), Nook, on Smashwords, or in the iTunes bookstore.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and now Instagram!

It’s cold, it’s rainy, and the natives are restless. Did I just describe your current situation, too? Whether the “natives” are kids home from school, house guests from out of town, or even yourself, I’ve got a project to keep even the antsiest among us entertained. It’s a birdseed suet wreath that anyone can make, and a fun way to share the Christmas spirit with your feathered friends.

For this project, I decided to team up with my seven-year-old, who had a great time helping me.

Let me start by saying that I did not come up with this recipe myself but found it on Martha Stewart’s website in the form of a video. (You’ll find the link to it at the bottom of this post.)

We made our wreath a little differently than Martha did. While she used rendered lard and birdseed, I used shortening (melted in the microwave) and added crunchy peanut butter, oats, cornmeal, and an extra helping of black oil sunflower seeds. Also, I did not have cranberries, so I used raisins, instead (not pictured).

Here’s my young birder helping to mix everything together.


(Need birdseed? Check out Wagner’s Songbird Supreme Blend.)

When you’ve got it all blended, begin filling your Bundt pan, pressing it down as you go. (But first place your cranberries in the bottom of the pan, if using them. You know how birds like their food to be aesthetically pleasing.) I used a springform pan with a Bundt insert, which made getting this thing out very easy.

When you’re done, it will look like this. The next time I make it, I’ll double the recipe so it fills the pan. Mine actually turned out somewhat thin.

I popped the pan into the fridge for a couple of days to make sure the wreath was good and set. I was very pleased with the result. It looks great, don’t you think?

After a quick selfie, I left it for the birds…

…who were on it literally within just a few minutes of my going back into the house. (Be sure to hang it using a wide ribbon for better stability.)

This wreath drew more than just chickadees. Spotted Towhees, Dark-eyed Juncos, Song Sparrows, finches, and nuthatches all gobbled it up. Unfortunately, they ate from the top of it first, and within days it had broken and was lying on the ground in pieces. No worries, however — I simply put the pieces where they could get to them more easily, which for me was on an old wooden bridge near our feeders, but a tray or pie pan set on the ground would work just as well.

Here’s a link to Martha Stewart’s video: Birdseed wreath on MarthaStewart.com.

If you make this wreath, please post a picture on our Facebook page!


Learn more about your backyard birds in Birds of the Pacific Northwest: How to Identify 25 of the Most Popular Backyard Birds. Get it for your Kindle (which you can also read on your PC, Mac, smartphone, or tablet with this free reading app), Nook, on Smashwords, or in the iTunes bookstore.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and now Instagram!

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