One thing I enjoy in homeschooling is nature study. Inspired by Petra School and February Outdoor Hour Challenge, I took steps to finally use our Handbook of Nature Study this month. Our house is going to the birds folks!
We started with Lesson 1 – Feathers as Clothing. The instruction was to observe a hen in the rain. No one wanted to deal with the rain, so we just went to the hen house. And what did our six eyes spy?
The Hens – Betty, Clara, Yuki
In that mess underneath their feet we found feathers from Betty. So instead of stalking a bird for feathers, we gladly thanked Betty for her offering and dashed back inside. (Because we do not have feathers to keep us dry and we do not like getting wet)
Things we learned…
The spine part of the feather is called the shaft or quill. The girls were surprised to learn this is why a feather pen is called a quill pen! The barbs come off the quill and form what they call the web. The base of the feather is the fluff, which is soft and downy. (These feathers do not have fluff). We talked about how the feathers "shingle" to keep the hen dry, like the roof shingles keep us dry. We talked about the fluffy feathers on the front of the bird keeping them warm like a coat.
The girls were assigned to draw the feather and label it in their field journal. Missy decided to complete her assignment with a feather and black paint. She wasn’t impressed.
Want to learn about the Quill Pen? Click here.
Because this is the year of Biology in our home, the microscope was brought out to examine the feather further. SERIOUSLY cool! I could not get my camera to capture it (Note Daddy, momma
wants needs a new toy for Valentine’s Day), but suffice to say that the intricate pattern & design of this single feather is unbelievable…just another small reminder of our Creator’s joy in the tiny details.
Feather of a Hen. Magnified 40X.
Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul – and sings the tunes without the words – and never stops at all. Emily Dickinson
Well, then it was time for the fun. Time to observe a hen. Who would our
poor victim volunteer be? Why Miss Betty from Ohio.
RUN BETTY RUN!!
I feel your pain Betty. Really.
Betty has a cool set of wings. I am too chicken (HA!) to clip them. So if she flaps them, I usually get a smacking or two. I liked to see how the smaller feathers overlap to make a protective covering. Missy noted that it was comparable to our roof. (I love it when they make those connections!)
Well, Betty wasn’t about to be the only having fun. She invited Clarabelle to join us. Who was not at all pleased. Not a bit.
Clara is a Buff Orpington. She’s my favorite. (Shh! Don’t tell Betty or Yuki!) It was interesting to note how alike the girls were, yet different. One thing we’d learned earlier this year was that a girl’s feather tips are rounded, where as the boys are pointier. Unfortunately I no longer have a rooster to compare feathers.
Well, things are back to normal in the hen house. Yuki managed to not be the subject of our experiment and Betty was letting her know what she thought of that.
We look forward to learning more about our fine feathered friends this month!
The Great Backyard Bird Count is coming!
February 15-18, 2013