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Counting Birds -- Perfect Picture Book Friday

Title: Counting Birds: The Idea that Helped Save Our Feathered Friends

Author: Heidi E.Y. Stemple

Illustrator: Clover Robin

Publisher: Quatro Publishing Group USA, 2018

Opening Lines: Frank Chapman loved birds. He worked at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City creating exhibits about birds.

Themes: Citizen Science, Biography, Ornithology, Birds, Nature, STEAM, Earth Day

Why I Love this Book and Think You Will Too:

I love birds. When I was young, we had a neighbor who put sunflower seeds on the banister of her deck that sat in the middle of the woods. When we visited, she would let us put out the seed. Then she would call "chick- a dee-dee-dee, Here Chick-a dee-dee-dee" From the trees we would hear the little black, white and grey birds call back. "dee-dee-dee" That was how I learned about my first bird.

This book may lead you to love birds too. If you already love birds, you will enjoy this book for the information and beauty.

The author, Heidi Stemple, is the child in the much loved and beautiful book Owl Moon by her mom, Jane Yolen. Heidi went out on the Christmas Bird Count to call down the owls with her father many times. She continues the tradition with the Owl Moon Gang.

Counting Birds is part call to action, part biography, and part nature exploration. It shows how taking a small step can lead to big things that protect and preserve our natural world.

The cut paper illustrations are beautiful and deserve special attention.

Activities and Resources:

Be sure to check out all of Heidi's videos related to this book. She teaches you how to call down the Owls.

Check out more of Clover's artwork and learn about her process.

Make your own collage bird.

You can learn more about birds from the Field Museum in Chicago.

Two free apps you can add to your phone are EBird and the Merlin Bird App. They are both from Cornell Lab. The EBird App is used to count birds anytime and anywhere. I often watch the birds at my feeders and do a count with my morning cup of coffee. Merlin is for bird identification.

Become a Citizen Scientist.

As 2020 comes to a close, it's nice to look ahead and start the new year with new ideas.

You can start a Phenology Nature Notebook. I usually pick up mixed media sketchbooks from Michaels when I have a 40 or 50% off coupon. The mixed media sketchbooks can handle in, watercolor, colored pencils, and crayons. The paper is heavy enough to handle some glue to stick in found objects, flower petals, or fortunes from tea or cookies. But any type of paper will work. Generally the less expensive, the less intimidating it is to get to drawing.

You can keep track of the cycle of the the Moon. And start a Phonology Circle. This could be a circle divided into 30 parts or you could create circles for each week of the year. When you divide a circle, it's like cutting a pizza. If you slice it all the way across, you can get equal parts and an even number of slices. A week is only 7 days, so you could use the 8th slice to reflect note the month. I drew a circle and divided it into 32 parts. Those are pretty small slices. It would be fun to look at the weather in a month's circle. If you want to gather more details, keeping a weekly circle, might be the best route.

I'm going to try this out for 2021 and see what I discover.

I created blank wheels. One for a Month and one for a Week. Feel free to download them and use them all year.

Month phonology wheel
Download PDF • 239KB

week phonology wheel
Download PDF • 182KB

Order your own copy of Counting Birds.

Check out Susanna Hill's Perfect Picture Book Friday Blog to discover more cool books to read with your kids and add to your collection.

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1 Comment

This makes me want to go out an call out owls right now...but it's the middle of the day, LOL. I've read and love this book. And Heidi's videos are great! It also makes me miss the snow, considering we've got 60 degree temps in San Francisco right now. Happy Holidays!

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