We profited from unusually warm temperatures last weekend to break out a gift I bought for the family on Etsy before Christmas: a Backyard Bird Nest Experiment Kit from the TheNatureNut. In the last two weeks, we’ve seen and heard robins and chickadees (and a red-chested bird I can’t identify) around our tree again, so this seemed like a great time to pull it out. I didn’t have to ask my son twice if he wanted to help hang them from the branches of our cherry tree; he was straddling a limb before I had found my shoes.
The handmade kit comes with four wire cages stuffed with different materials: straw, shredded colored paper, yarn and dog hair; there is an experiment observation sheet where we record the nesting material, staring date, empty date and comments, as well as a second observation sheet for recording the types of birds inspecting or taking the materials. In addition, Kathleen provides information about ways to attract birds to your yard, suggested nesting materials, resources and instructions for recording and tabulating the results of the experiment. Children are encouraged to monitor the cages to see which material is used more than the others, and to look around the neighborhood for nests built with our stuffing.
Browsing through her shop on a rainy November day, I couldn’t resist adding these maple seed butterflies to my shopping cart. They seemed full of promise for spring.
Cleverly packaged with a styrofoam block and recycled water bottles turned upside down to provide a protective casing, these little butterflies sat on our windowsill for months waiting for the weather to turn. Now they sit in our garden as a sweet reminder that the real butterflies will be out soon enough.