Book Review: Owls by Matt Sewell

What’s not to like about owls ? Smallest ones are adorable, large ones are majestic. They are interesting to study, they are good for the environment. Matt Sewell, an ornithologist, artist and an author books about birds, made a book, “Owls”  to celebrate these wonderful birds.

owls by matt sewell

This book is full of love for owls and around 50 species are listed and talked about in this book. The main feature of this book is the artwork. Soft watercolor illustrations are emphasizing the most charming points of each bird and one can’t help but smile looking at them. The book is split into sections according to habitats: woodland, tropics, wilderness and desert. In the end of the book there is a checklist where one can keep track of owls seen. The book includes familiar and more rare species. Each entry consists of a portrait of a bird, its scientific name and short description. Each description is interesting, humorous and affectionately written.

Overall impression: This lovely book would make a great gift for a bird and/or art lover. My children enjoyed it immensely as well. Loved the art, loved the entries. I feel like I learned a lot about owls while going through this book. 5 stars.

I received this book via Blogging for Books in exchange to a fair and unbiased review.

Goodbye June and savoring July

This is going to be a lazy post. I haven’t updated in two weeks and I can’t bring myself to do a full list of things we did and places we went. We had a great time with friends, we were on our own a little, we got sick and are recovering…we are trying to have  a slow summer, but at the same time trying not to be bored out of our minds. I am staying away from devices as much as I can (the record is July 1st when I haven’t opened my laptop until 8 pm), trying to read a lot and only for fun, to craft. I am drawing and painting daily, the little things, but doing it brings so much joy. Kids are being creative without any prompts…A few shots from the past two weeks, our golden moments:

catching that morning ray of sun

catching that morning ray of sun

catching a glimpse of a duck with ducklings

catching a glimpse of a duck with ducklings

our first results of drying flowers

our first results of drying flowers

staying up to look at the moon

staying up to look at the crazy full  moon

Overall life is good. I am trying to find a new balance in our lives, and hoping to bring it into our schoolyear too. I am trying to re-learn how to be a calm mom, and stop being someone ruled by schedules and necessity to be somewhere else.

Week’s Roundup: June 15-June 21, 2015

Another week flew by and it’s Summer Solstice time already. The summer is officially here, yay!

Photo of the week:

Kids were all about playing with water this week, no wonder, we had a couple of extremely hot days

Kids were all about playing with water this week, no wonder, we had a couple of extremely hot days

What were we up to this week:

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More birds

We had an awesome mini lesson about birds on Monday, but weren’t very lucky locating any nests around our house. So Tuesday we headed to Audubon Center at Chatfield to try and see if we can spot some there.

We got lucky almost immediately and saw a swallow’s nest right on the eave of public restroom:

swallow's nest

Parents were nearby, one watching us:


Another one carrying things into the nest, feathers mostly:


After that we walked around in tall grass

C. seems so tiny

C. seems so tiny

Admired flowers all around us


Were amazed by the amount of water that transformed a realtively calm little river. Indeed, after reading Rain by Cynthia Barnett I can’t stop thinking about blessing and horror that rain brings, and how precarious human relationship with rain really is.

It has spilled on trails even

It has spilled on trails even

a year or two ago our children could cross it hopping from rock to rock and now it's just angry mass that can sweep you up in seconds

a year or two ago our children could cross it hopping from rock to rock and now it’s just angry mass that can sweep you up in seconds

And at last listened to some amazing birdsong amongst the trees.

Audubon center chatfield

Other critters we saw: a lizard, a frog, multiple birds…what a great hike it was.

Learning about birds continued

Previously in Birding adventures we tried a Bird Walk and Bird Banding class. Today was all about nests.

I picked up another wonderful book by Sylvia Long and Dianna Hutts Aston “A Nest is Noisy”, so naturally we had to explore the subject. The book as expected is absolutely gorgeous and talks about all kinds of nests, big and small, those of birds and of beasts. Most of the information was new to kids and even to me. 5 stars as always.

a nest is noisy

Their “An Egg is Quiet” is another book on the subject

an egg is quiet

We talked a little bit more about nests, what’s inside and how to tell which nests belongs to a bird and which to a squirrel (squirrels use sticks to build theirs).  10 Facts about Bird Nests (although the video is a bit fast)

Kids then set out to look for nests around our house. Lots of birds were singing, but only squirrel mansion was found:

squirrell nestWe talked about helping birds by leaving materials for them to build nests and kids tried to make their own little “gift nests” for the birdies

D's nest includes tiny twigs, leaves and cat's hair

D’s nest includes tiny twigs, leaves and cat’s hair

C.'s also has leaves and cat's hair, plus she went for esthetics with dandelions :)

C.’s also has leaves and cat’s hair, plus she went for esthetics with dandelions 🙂

We watched a documentary called Hummingbird: Magic in the Air  (link leads to PBS episode, it’s also on youtube for those that can’t access PBS). What fascinating creatures these little birds are! 25 amazing facts about hummingbirds. I had no idea they only live in the Americas, somehow I thought they surely will be present in Asia or Australia.

We also looked at amazing close up photography of hummingbirds, which prompted our art making. Children did their best to draw hummingbirds in flight, while I experimented with my watercolor pencils to sketch one of the close-ups.

painting hummingbirds

It was a very interesting mini-lesson today, there are more documentaries in plans, as I hope to discuss different habitats with kids.

Also please check out our previous art activity “How to paint a portrait of a bird”

Bird Banding

Today, we had an amazing experience attending a class in our local Audubon Society . We had a pleasure of taking a Bird Walk  here before and attended another class for homeschoolers. Today was extra special as we got to see how the birds are banded, and we learned about migration.

First we took a walk among the wetlands and trees that were so full of life comparing to our late autumn and winter visits.

There were so many of Red Winged Blackbirds and the air was full of their song.

There were so many of Red Winged Blackbirds and the air was full of their song.

Children learned about beavers being active again and spotted a white heron that was a bit far, but there nonetheless 🙂

Before long we reached the bird banding station (which is open to general public on weekends until May 31,2015, folks in the area hurry up and visit!) and got to see a little Lincoln sparrow that got caught in the net and was ready to be banded. Another little Lincoln sparrow was caught later. Just as we were about to leave more birds came up from other nets, too bad we couldn’t stay to see what kind they were.

lincoln sparrow

Little leg is being measured for the band

Little leg is being measured for the band

The bird’s leg was measured for the band and a band quickly attached, then the wings and tails were measured and carefully recorded, then the fat on bird’s chest was checked- we got to see its little heart fluttering through the transparent skin- so tiny and so fast! Finally the bird was weighted

weighting the bird

and the little kids helped release the bird back to nature.

releasing the bird

After kids learned about things that help and hinder the migration. It was a lovely walk and we were very lucky to have a warm sunshine after two days of rain.

For more information on migration check out PBS video

And Winged Migration is an excellent film on the topic.

Read and make: How to paint the portrait of a bird

On Tuesday we read one of my most favorite poems “How to Paint the Portrait of a Bird” by  Jacques Prévert. We did a little art project after reading the book.

We chose a beautiful book with illustrations by Mordicai Gerstein (published in 2007 by Roaring Brook Press) to read the poem in English first:


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