Every year my mom and grandmother get about 20 free calendars in the mail that they could not possibly have enough empty wall space for. Therefore, around November, they bring out the pile and allow us and the grand-kids to choose our favorites. Some are used for various craft projects, but for the last couple of years, I have chosen one as a teaching tool for Sarah. The first calendar we hung up identified various flower species. It surprised me how well my 3-year-old daughter learned the names each month. She was even able to find examples of flowers in gardens around the area. After a year, she has forgotten many of the flowers, but whenever she sees purple clematis or a bleeding heart, she is sure to point them out to me.
This year, we got a calendar on birds. We regularly take the calendar off the wall and review each month’s pinup during breakfast. I almost always get a request to “just have a little peak” at next month’s picture. I decided to take identifying to the next level when I found and downloaded a free iPhone application called Scotts Bird Id. The program, once you choose a state, will generate a list of birds that can be found in that state. For many types, there are also sounds of the bird calls available for your listening pleasure. Once you have seen a bird and heard its call, you can then record a sighting which will be added to a migration chart that is being maintained by Scotts. This can be viewed from their Facebook page.
We headed outside to see what birds we could find. It was then that I spotted the perfect spot to observe-our hammock. Hammocks are great for bird watching. Hanging between two trees – known locations for winged animals – and within viewing distance of one of our bird feeders, it seemed the perfect observation point. An added bonus was the rocking motion that kept Sarah calm and quiet and put Jabel to sleep within minutes. When we first adjusted ourselves, we couldn’t see or hear one bird. I gave Sarah the iPhone and allowed her to listen to songs of the birds that she had learned from the calendar. I don’t know if it was coincidence, or if the birds could hear calls, but as soon as she played the American Robin song, we saw two American Robins fly overhead. We were also able to hear Blue Jays calling to each other after listening to their song. Sarah was most excited when a number of Tufted Titmouse appeared following another iPhone recording and began eating from the bird feeder.
We spent about an hour, swaying slightly with the same autumn breeze that had colored leaves floating down around us and watching birds flitting to and fro. For those of you who hang around 4 year-old kids, you have an idea what a miracle that is. Sarah didn’t even want to go inside when I suggested it was getting too cool for the little one.
The temperatures are probably soon to dip into regions that will keep us from swinging between the trees, but we already have next year’s calendar picked out and I think the hammock will be great for butterfly watching!