Open-mouthed Learning

The hungry baby birds are expecting their mother’s return. Did you know each bird needs at least 15 worms a day as they grow?

On Mother’s Day, my neighbor offered to let us join him on his rounds for monitoring bluebird nests. My children were fascinated. We followed him around on his 40-minute walk to check six nesting boxes. At each box, he would approach carefully, stand safely to the side, and unscrew the front. Then he could count the eggs and baby birds inside, monitoring their development.

This is the kind of learning I want my children to enjoy: on-site and in-person guided by a mentor who loves the topic.

My children poured out the questions about bird development, preparing and cleaning the sites, travel times, predators, and preferred food sources. Tellingly, my youngest child asked, “does the mother bird make sure to be fair when she passes out the worms to her babies?”

This nest was in one of the bluebird boxes, but is a tree sparrow nest. They line their nest with feathers.

“How do they get the feathers ready for the nest? Is it like pulling out a hair off your head? Does it hurt? Do they have extra feathers?”

Our evening walk helped re-energize my enthusiasm for learning, which is especially important right now, in the midst of AP test taking. There is so much to dislike about “teaching to the test,” even though it is valuable for college applications.

I love being outside, making observations, and finding out more about the beauty that surrounds us.

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