We like birds. We really like birds. We even have our feeder system right outside the dining room window where we can bird-watch during meals, scare off those bloody starlings, check to see if the red-tailed hawk is lurking, and see what sort of order the birds feed in.
Oh yes, there is a definite pecking order over here at the Greenridge Feeder System, and it goes something like this: bigger bosses littler (not very grammatical but oh-so-poetic, don't you think?). If the sparrows, juncos, and chickadees are feeding, the bushtits stay away. If the downy woodpecker is at the suet feeder, the smaller birds keep to the seed house. If the starlings are there, only the junco will venture forth, but only to within a foot of the seed house. And because the starlings are SO pushy, we've had to resort to wrapping twine around the seed house so the tiny birds are the only ones who can slip past. Finally, when the red-tailed hawk or the Cooper's hawk is around, everyone sits quietly in the Garry oaks.
The starlings are extremely tenacious, too, which makes for some lively action here some days. I've been experimenting with hanging the peanut butter feeder on very thin cross-wires, so the starlings won't be able to balance easily and will generally spend more time flapping and bouncing than eating the peanut butter.
In my quest to find new and interesting additions to our own homeschool routines (this being January and my usual time to get restless, plus it's fun surfing through blogs when I could be doing housework or the laundry), I have happened upon a number of great sites:
Terrell, at Alone on a Limb, is hosting Learning in the Great Outdoors: The Carnival of Environmental Education, and all sorts of people are posting handy links to their own outdoor meanderings.
Dana, at Backyard Birding, even posts a recipe for home-made suet, and it's close enough to mine that I'm going to include her link. (mine differs in that I don't use flour or fruit and I use more birdseed and whole oats)
Barb, at Handbook of Nature Study, has a truly impressive blog dedicated to using Anna Comstock's book Handbook of Nature Study in her homeschool. Her photos alone are worth a visit.
I also found this place, Conservation Calling, where you can download ringtones with bird and animal sounds, and according to their website, they support American Forests' Global ReLeaf campaign by contributing 10% net revenue to restore wildlife habitat. Each dollar donated plants a tree. I'm much too cheap to do this myself (what with our new friend Mortgage hovering over us so closely), but I had a lot of fun playing around with the sounds, and I was quite taken with the quality of the recordings. I wish I weren't so cheap, actually, because I'd quite like that black-capped chickadee singing on my cell.