Do you run across a book, once in awhile, that you can't stop exclaiming over and you almost squeal in delight each day when you pick it up again?
I have discovered a new one: The Burgess Bird Book for Children. I know I'm not the first to discover the books of Thornton W. Burgess, but I certainly understand the hype!
Thornton Burgess takes the study of birds and weaves it into a sweet little story. The story carries over from chapter to chapter, in a diaolgue between Peter Rabbit and Jenny Wren. They go about the business of animals in the forest while discussing the different traits of each bird.
He explains in a way that even my 4 year old is able to grasp, why certain birds build their nests in trees, and others move into a birdhouse; why some males build the nest and why other females build; why this bird's song is loud and long; and so much more. It's extremely more interesting than a field guide (and I do LOVE field guides!).
Here's a sample:
"I suppose Little Frend the Song Sparrow got here some time ago," said she.
Peter nodded. "Yes," said he. "I saw him only a day or two ago over by the Laughing Brook, and although he wouldn't say so, I'm sure that he has a nest and eggs already."
Jenny Wren jerked her tail and nodded her head vigorously. "I suppose so," said she. "He doesn't have to make as long a journey as we do, so he gets here sooner. Did you ever in your life see such a difference as there is between Little Friend and his cousin, Bully? Everybody loves Little Friend."
Once more Peter nodded. "That's right," said he. "Everybody does love little friend. It makes me feel sort of all glad inside just to hear him sing. I guess it makes everybody feel that way. I wonder why we so seldom see him up here in the Old Orchard."
"Because he likes damp places with plenty of bushes better," replied Jenny Wren. "It wouldn't do for everybody to like the same kind of place. He isn't a tree bird, anyway. He likes to be on or near the ground. You will never find his nest much above the ground, nt more than a foot or two. Quite often it is on the ground. Of course, I prefer Mr. Wren's song, but I must admit that Little Friend the Song Sparrow has one of the happiest songs of anyone I know. Then, too, he is so modest, just like us Wrens."
Peter turned his head aside to hide a smile, for if there is anybody who delights in being both seen and heard it is Jenny Wren, while Little Friend the Song Sparrow is shy and retiring, content to make all the world glad with his song, but preferring to keep out of sight as much as possible.
Jenny chattered on as she hunted for some more material for her nest. "I suppose you've noticed," said she, "that he and his wife dress very much alike. They don't go in for bright colors any more than we Wrens do. They show good taste. I like the little brown caps they wear, and the way their breasts and sides are streaked with brown. Then, too, they are such useful folks. It is a pity that that nuisance of a BUlly doesn't learn something from them. I suppose they stay rather later than we do in the fall."
"Yes," replied Peter. "They don't go until Jack Frost makes them. I don't know of anyone we miss more than we do them."
How fun! See how much factual information about birds is woven into such a sweet little conversation? It really keeps the attention of the kids, and I get excited because of all the great bird facts they are learning.
As I'm reading this (at lunchtime, usually) I keep my iPhone handy and use this great app:
As each new bird is mentioned, I look it up on this app, show the kids the color picture, show the migration map, and play the song of that bird. I may hit the song button several times as I read so that we hear the music as we read.
We discussed today how amazing it is that God created all of the different birds in one day, with all of their different sizes, colors, songs, nesting habits, migration habits, and more. What an awesome God!
I'm using this book as part of a broad study of birds, which is part of a broader study of Biology. My oldest daughter is using Biology 101. She is currently in the chapter on flying creatures, so I've created a unit study for the younger kids to go along with it. You can check out my Pinterest Board on this subject to see what other projects we are enjoying.
I hope you will try the Burgess Bird Book for Children! I look forward to his other books in the future.