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Our Day at the Sacramento Wildlife Refuge

One of the best things about being a homeschool mom is getting to go on all sorts of educational adventures with my kids. Our most recent adventure was a trip to the Sacramento Wildlife Refuge to go bird watching and learn about the snow geese migration, and it was such a fun a trip. We can't wait to go again!



The Sacramento Wildlife Refuge is 1 of 6 refuges located in the Sacramento Valley of northern California. It sits on nearly 11,000 acres of carefully managed wetlands, uplands, and riparian habitat, and it supports wintering populations of over 600,000 ducks and 200,000 geese. It is absolutely gorgeous!

History:

For thousands of years, the wetlands of the Sacramento valley have provided winter nesting grounds for a wide array of waterfowl that migrate there from northern Canada, Alaska, and Siberia. Over the last 100 years, 95% of California's wetlands have been lost to urban and agricultural development. Starting in 1937, the state of California began to set aside land to …
Recent posts

Learning About Birds: Flight and Migration

Flight gives birds the ability to travel vast distances and without it migration would not be possible. Check out these activities and resources for learning about flight and migration:



Learn About Flight

Birds are built for flight. Their lightweight structure, hollow bones, feathers, shape, and strength, all contribute to a bird's ability to take to the air. Here are a couple fun activities to try that demonstrate how birds fly:

Thrust and Lift Balloon Birds:
Just like airplanes, birds require two things to achieve flight: thrust and lift. Thrust is the force that propels a bird foward, and lift is the force that holds a bird in the air. Lift happens because of the difference in pressure over and underneath a wing. This activity is a simple and fun way to demonstrate how both lift and thrust contribute to a bird's ability to fly.

For this activity you will need:
-a balloon 
-a clothespin 
-a couple artificial feathers
-some scotch tape
-a permanent marker

First blow up your balloon, but…

Learning About Bird Nests

Most birds build shelters called nests to lay their eggs and raise their young in. Nests provide protection from predators and the elements and they can be made from a wide variety of materials, depending on the type of bird and the environment it lives in.

Bird nests can be made from twigs, grass, plant fibers, mud, spider silk, moss, and almost any other material birds can get their beaks on. Some birds, like eagles, build their nests high in the trees to keep them safe from predators. Other birds build their nests on the ground or in low shrubs. Bird nests are as varied as birds themselves!



Common Types of Nests
Birds build many different types of nests, some fairly simple, and others much more complex. Here are some of the most common categories:

Scrape Nests- Scrape nests are made by many shore birds, ostriches, pheasants, and quails. They are generally nothing more than a shallow depression dug in the dirt or sand. Sometimes stones, feathers, or shells may be added. Birds that build…

My Favorite Christmas Traditions

The Christmas season is important in our household. Having 3 young children, and lots of family in the area, typically means lots of events and lots of fun. One of my favorite things about the holidays, is getting to share traditions from my childhood with my kids. It's so much fun getting to relive some of that childhood magic. I also love finding new traditions to try out and incorporate into our holiday season.

Here are a few of my family's favorite traditions:


Decorating the Tree
Growing up my family always set up and decorated our tree the day after Thanksgiving. It was, and still is, one of my favorite parts of the holiday season. I love waking up before the kids and sitting in the quiet, with a cup of coffee by the tree. There's something almost therapeutic about sitting next to a lit Christmas tree on a quiet morning or evening.

Most years we use a fake tree, so we stick to family tradition and set it up and decorate on the Friday after Thanksgiving. It's a much mo…

Learning About Birds: Beaks and Diet

All birds have beaks. They are used for finding and accessing food, self defense, and building nests. Beaks are actually an extension of a bird's skull and are covered in a protein sheath called keratin, the same protein that gives our fingernails strength. 

Birds eat a wide variety of foods. Some birds eat fruit and nuts, and some eat seeds. There are birds that eat insects, and birds that eat small mammals and reptiles. Many sea birds and water fowl eat fish. There are even birds that eat flower nectar. Tearing apart fruit requires a very different beak than extracting nectar from a flower does, so many birds have developed highly specialized beaks, specific to their diet. 



Common types of beaks: Meat Eater- Birds of prey, like eagles and hawks, have sharp powerful hooked beaks for tearing meat.



Fruit and Nut Eater- Birds that eat a lot of fruit and nuts, like macaws, have strong beaks with a sharp hook at the tip for tearing fruit and cracking shells.



Fish Eater- Fish eating birds, …

Autumn Crafts and Learning Activities

Autumn is such a great time of year for nature inspired crafts and activities. The world is full of so many gorgeous colors and the weather is perfect for getting outside and exploring. Here are a few of our favorite autumn themed crafts and learning activities we've done this year:



Water Color Resist Leaf Rubbings  We have done lots of leaf rubbings and lots of water color resist art in the past, but we've never tried them together until this year. I love the way these turned out and they were so much fun to make! 

All you need for this craft is a few fresh leaves, white paper, crayons, watercolors, and a paintbrush.

We went for a short nature walk in a quiet neighborhood near our apartment and collected a variety of leaves to use.

Start by placing a leaf under your paper and rub the side of a crayon over the paper where the leaf is positioned, just like a typical leaf rubbing. Bright colors like orange, yellow, and pink work best for this project.

Continue adding more leaves to yo…