Toddler Explorations: Birds and Nests

We've been walking, talking, and practically breathing birds lately. With the coming of spring and more time spent outdoors, Silas has shown a keen interest in the feathered friends who visit our yard. He loves to call them by name and has started to identify them by song. So we spend a lot of time sitting quietly near the feeder and talking about what we see and hear. The last couple nights we've heard robins calling as he drifts off to sleep. He looks up at me with heavy eyes and whispers, "Birds saying, 'goodnight Silas'." It's about the most precious thing I could imagine.

To try to take his investigations a bit farther, I set up an interest table that is all about birds. On it are a basket of nonfiction books, binoculars (our bird feeder is right out the window next to the table), Montessori bird nomenclature cards, a set of backyard bird figurines and a set of bird photo cards.

The books are:

A Nest Full of Eggs -- All about a pair of robins and their hatchlings...a wonderful book.
Birds, Nests and Eggs -- This book is's a field guide geared for kids. We reference it often.
The Raptors of Iowa -- This is a collection of paintings of Iowa birds of prey...gorgeous.
Eyewitness Bird -- This is a bit above his level, but it has wonderful, detailed photographs.
Why Do Birds Sing? -- The format is that of common questions kids ask about birds and their answers.
Everything Bird -- This is also above his reading level, so we skim it and look at the fantastic photos.
How Do Birds Find Their Way? -- Beautifully illustrated book about migration.
And a good field guide, which we look at quite often.

If I had to choose the books we like the best, it would be the first three listed, plus the field guide. Detailed photographs and illustrations are key for us; he can look at them for a very long time and returns to them again and again.

I demonstrated the bird nomenclature cards (from Montessori Print Shop) once and wasn't sure how much he had absorbed. He'll look at them from time to time, but it wasn't until he brought them to Steve one evening and correctly named all the parts of the bird that I knew he had "gotten" them.

The small bird figurines have come in very handy (from Safari). He likes to name them, include them in his dramatic play, as well as to play a 3-D matching game with the corresponding photo cards. There are tons of free printables online that feature birds, but there was something that I didn't quite like about all of them that I found, so I just made my own. I recently purchased a laminator and I may have become a bit addicted. *ahem*

As I mentioned in my previous post, Silas was very interested in building nests, picking up pieces of grass and piling them on branches. So, we made a little nest out of yarn and glue that he put in a tree. He checks it every morning to see if there's evidence that birds slept there the previous night. I think he's still holding out hope for some eggs.

And finally, we took a field trip to a local raptor sanctuary. I used to volunteer here, feeding the birds, but I had only been back once since Silas was born. It was very meaningful to me to share this place with him. It has been a place of quiet and of solace for me. It was interesting, too, to observe what he found interesting about it. While I am partial to eagles and hawks, he was most taken with the owls and still, days later, talks a lot about the movements and sounds that they made, mimicking them. When we got home, he immediately asked to look at the owls in the field guide.

Where this will lead...we don't quite know yet. I have a couple other backyard bird things I'm thinking about exploring, but I also want to pick up on the interest he expressed in owls. So many possibilities!


  1. Oh we love one of your books, Birds, Nests and Eggs. It has been returned to the library a few times only to be checked out again.

    Birds are big in our home right now too. So exciting to watch them and listen for their calls. Last night a bird nest caught our attention as we were heading in for bath hour later we came in. We had to figure out what bird it was, and admire its nest before we could come in.

    Have fun, I know we are :)

    1. That's the one book we purchased! I thought we might end up in a similar repeat-check-out situation.

      Don't keep me in suspense...what was the bird that you saw? I'm sure you get quite a different variety than we do down here. :)