Nature Study: Our Backyard

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Due to heavy rains Tuesday night and the fact that we met my sister for lunch on Wednesday, we were unable to go to our nature center this week.  I was afraid that I’d be feeling a little withdrawal, but it was an incredible nature study day in the five minutes it took me to take the dog out this morning.  I’m afraid this might fall under the “educating me” category, though, because the kids weren’t even up at the time all the excitement was going on.

When I walked outside, the trees were literally teeming with birds — mostly migrating blackbirds.  While I was walking the dog, I heard a loud crashing sound in one of the trees and thought it was a couple of squirrels chasing each other.  Then, I saw something moving around and realized it was much bigger than a squirrel.  “A cat,” I thought.

No, it was a huge, red-tailed hawk in the tree in my backyard!  I was completely enthralled.  He was beautiful!  I stood there just watching him for a long time, then decided that I’d get the camera and try to get a picture of him.  Of course, he was gone, nowhere to be seen, by the time I got back.  I did sketch him and a squirrel, though, from a picture online.  Not quite the same, but I was pleased with how much my sketches have improved since checking out some library books last weekend and practicing.  I highly recommend Drawing Wildlife and First Steps Drawing in Pen & Ink.

natural journal

In addition to the hawk, there were several squirrels and cardinals out this morning.  I hope to do a little nature study make-up time today.  Our homeschool group is going on a field trip to an apple orchard today.  Depending on how that goes, we may take a little side trip to a nearby national forest.  So, I may have an updated nature study post later on.

We also found some goldenrod in the wooded lot at the end of our street this weekend.  The kids brought some in to sketch and to observe with a magnifying glass.  I meant to go back and take some pictures, but I forgot.  Finding goldenrod to observe was the nature study challenge this week at Handbook of Nature Study.  It’s amazing how we see it everywhere now that we know what it looks like and are paying attention to looking for it.

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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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  1. You did a great job on the drawing. We live in the woods and see lots of hawks but it never gets old. The other day my husband saw two calling to one another and then land on the same branch together. You don't see that everyday.

  2. I really enjoyed reading your post, because I could relate to it so much! I take our dog for very early walks too and have witnessed interesting things during those walks (hawk, great blue heron, white egret..)and so often wished I had brought my camera!
    I could also relate to seeing goldenrods everywhere now that we know what it is! Thanks for mentioning the sketching books, I will check our library. Your sketches are amazing!

  3. Wow! We have hawks around here too but I've never seen one in my yard. I think I'd be a tad worried… our dog is hawk dinner sized, and we have guinea pigs living, loose in a lower section of our back yard. What an experience though! And your sketches…. can I say I have sketch envy? 😉 I don't do a nature notebook this makes me want to consider it again.

  4. Okay, now you are inspiring me. 🙂

    The great thing about this thing we are calling nature study is that it never ends. The excitement never stops….honestly, every time I see a red-tail hawk I get all enthusiastic.

    Great entry and great role model.

    Barb-Harmony Art Mom

  5. Your drawings are beautiful Kris! We have a whole family of red tailed hawks AND an owl family living in our trees in the city! I love watching them flying, but have to be careful…they might try and take my dogs!

  6. That's so funny that so many of you said something about having to watch your dogs because the first thing my husband said when I told him about the hawk was that the hawk was eye-balling the neighbor's dog — the little, obnoxious, yappy one. 😉

    Thank you for the comments on the sketches, too. I have to admit, I was really pleased with the way these two turned out.

    That's cool, Diane, about seeing the two calling to each other.

  7. Wow! I'm seriously impressed with your sketching! You do have talent!

    This is completely irrelevant…but talking about having to watch the dog because of hawks…I remember an episode of America's Funniest Videos where a hawk or owl took off with some poor boy's hamster. He was playing with it outside and 'whoosh'…sad. Funny, but really, really sad…poor boy.

  8. Did you draw those yourself?!?! Wow! I struggle to draw a circle.


    -Christina S.
    LessonPathways Team Member

  9. Yes, I did draw them. I was struggling to draw a circle not long ago. It's amazing what a couple of good drawing instruction books and some practice can do. I know, from personal experience. 😉

  10. We've seen a hawk in our backyard a couple of times and it is such a thrill! I love your drawings! Thanks for listing those 2 books – I believe the second one is one Barb mentioned a while back, right? Anyway, I'll check them both out!

  11. @ Dana – Yes, the Pen & Ink book was the one Barb mentioned recently. It's really good and I love Wildlife Drawing, since that's mostly what we're focusing on right now.

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