Bird BOOK LOOK – Chapter 33 – Purple Finch + Goldfinch


Missed Chapter 1? Begin HERE



CHAPTER 33 – A Royal Dresser and a Late Nester


Jenny and Mr. Wren were busy. If there were any busier little folks anywhere Peter Rabbit couldn’t imagine who they could be. You see, everyone of those seven eggs in the Wren nest had hatched, and seven mouths are a lot to feed, especially when every morsel of food must be hunted for and carried from a distance. There was little time for chatting now. Just as soon as it was light enough to see Jenny and Mr. Wren began feeding those always hungry babies, and they kept at it with hardly time for an occasional mouthful themselves, until the Dark Shadows came creeping out from the Purple Hills. Wren babies, like all other bird babies, grow very fast, and that means that each one of them must have a great deal of food every day. Each one of them often ate its own weight in food in a day and all their food had to be hunted for and when found carried back and put into the gaping little mouths. Hardly would Jenny Wren disappear in the little round doorway of her home with a caterpillar in her bill than she would hop out again, and Mr. Wren would take her place with a spider or a fly and then hurry away for something more.

Peter tried to keep count of the number of times they came and went and soon gave it up. He began to wonder where all the worms and bugs and spiders came from, and gradually he came to have a great deal of respect for eyes sharp enough to find them so quickly. So at last Peter gave up the idea of trying to find out from Jenny certain things he wanted to know, and hopped off to look for some one who was less busy. He had gone only a short distance when his attention was caught by a song so sweet and so full of little trills that he first stopped to listen, then went to look for the singer.


Tiny caterpillar camouflaged on the forest floor is dinner for a baby wren.


It didn’t take long to find him, for he was sitting on the very tip top of a fir tree in Farmer Brown’s yard. Peter didn’t dare go over there, for already it was broad daylight, and he had about made up his mind that he would have to content himself with just listening to that sweet singer when the latter flew over in the Old Orchard and alighted just over Peter’s head. “Hello, Peter!” he cried.

“Hello, Linnet!” cried Peter. “I was wondering who it could be who was singing like that. I ought to have known, you see though it has been so long since I’ve heard you sing that I couldn’t just remember your song. I’m so glad you came over here for I’m eager to talk to somebody.”

Linnet the Purple Finch, for this is who it was, laughed right out. “I see you’re still the same old Peter,” said he. “I suppose you’re just as full of curiosity as ever and just as full of questions. Well, here I am, so what shall we talk about?”

“You,” replied Peter. “Lately I’ve found out so many surprising things about my feathered friends that I want to know more. I’m trying to get it straight in my head who is related to who, and I’ve found out some things which have begun to make me feel that I know very little about my feathered neighbors. It’s getting so that I don’t dare to even guess who a person’s relatives are. And what family do you belong to Linnet?”

Linnet flew down a little nearer to Peter. “Look me over, Peter,” he said with twinkling eyes. “See if you can tell for yourself.”

Peter stared solemnly at Linnet. He saw a bird of Sparrow size most of whose body was a rose-red, brightest on the head, darkest on the back, and palest on the breast. Underneath he was whitish. His wings and tail were brownish, the outer parts of the feathers edged with rose-red. His bill was short and stout.

Before Peter could reply, Mrs. Finch appeared. There wasn’t so much as a touch of that beautiful rose-red about her. Her grayish-brown back was streaked with black, and her white breast and sides were spotted and streaked with brown. If Peter hadn’t seen her with Linnet he certainly would have taken her for a Sparrow. She looked so much like one that he ventured to say, “I guess you belong to the Sparrow family.”


Goldfinch by Louis Agassiz Fuertes


“That’s pretty close, Peter.” declared Linnet. “We belong to the Finch branch of the family, which makes the Sparrows own cousins to us. Folks may get Mrs. Finch mixed with some of our Sparrow cousins, however they never can mistake me. There isn’t anybody else my size with a rose-red coat like mine. If you can’t remember my song, you can always tell me by the color of my coat. Hello! Here comes Cousin Chicoree. Did you ever see a happier fellow than he is? I’ll venture to say that he has been having such a good time that he hasn’t even yet thought of building a nest, and here half the people of the Old Orchard have grown families. I’ve a nest and eggs myself, however that fellow is just roaming about having a good time. Isn’t that so, Chicoree?”

“Isn’t what so?” asked Chicoree the Goldfinch, perching very near to where Linnet was sitting.

“Isn’t it true that you haven’t even begun thinking about a nest?” repeated Linnet. Chicoree flew down in the grass almost under Peter’s nose and began to pull apart a dandelion which had gone to seed. He snipped the seeds from the soft down to which they were attached and didn’t say a word till he was quite through. Then he flew up in the tree near Linnet, and while he dressed his feathers, answered Linnet’s question.


Curious Capkin watching a flower go to seed – just right for a goldfinch? maybe!


“It’s quite true,” he said. “For me there’s time enough to think about nest building and household cares later. Mrs. Goldfinch and I will begin to think about them about the first of July. Meanwhile we are making the most of this beautiful season to roam about and have a good time. For one thing we like thistledown to line our nest, and there isn’t any thistledown yet. Then, there is no sense in raising a family until there is plenty of the right kind of food, and you know we Goldfinches live  mostly on seeds. I’ll venture to say that we are the greatest seed eaters anywhere around. Of course when the babies are small they have to have soft food, and one can find plenty of worms and bugs any time during the summer. Just as soon as the children are big enough to look for their own food they need seeds, so there is no sense in trying to raise a family until there are plenty of seeds for them when needed. How do you like my summer suit, Peter?”

“It’s beautiful,” declared Peter. “I wouldn’t know you for the same bird I see so often in the late fall and sometimes in the winter. I don’t know of anybody who makes a more complete change. That black cap certainly is very smart and becoming.”

Chicoree cocked his head on one side, the better to show off that black cap. The rest of his head and his whole body were bright yellow. His wings were black with two white bars on each. His tail also was black, with some white on it. In size he was a little smaller than Linnet. If Peter had known anything about Canaries, which of course he didn’t, because Canaries are always kept in cages, he would have understood why Chicoree the Goldfinch is often called the Wild Canary.

Mrs. Goldfinch now joined her mate and it was plain to see that she admired him quite as much as did Peter. Her wings and tail were much like his but were more brownish than black. She wore no cap at all and her back and head were a grayish-brown with an olive tinge. Underneath she was lighter, with a tinge of yellow. As Peter recalled Chicoree’s winter suit, it was very much like that now worn by Mrs. Goldfinch, save that his wings and tail were as they now appeared.

Chicoree kept up a continual happy twittering, breaking out every few moments into song. It was clear that he was fairly bubbling over with joy.

“Are you a member of the same family as Linnet the Purple Finch?” asked Peter.

“Yes, we do belong to the same family,” answered Chicoree, “and now I must go over to the Old Pasture to see how the thistles are coming on.”

Away he flew calling, “Chic-o-ree, per-chic-o-ree, chic-o-ree!” and Mrs. Goldfinch followed. As they flew, they rose and fell in the air in very much the same way that Yellow Wing the Flicker does.

“I’d know them just by that, even if Chicoree didn’t keep calling his own name,” thought Peter out loud. “It’s funny how they often stay around all winter yet are among the last of all the birds to set up housekeeping. As I once said to Jenny Wren, birds certainly are funny creatures.”

“Tut, tut, tut! It’s no such thing, Peter Rabbit. It’s no such thing,” said Jenny Wren as she flew past Peter on her way to hunt for another worm for her hungry babies.


P.L.A.Y. in Place Projects


Try these activities to extend your bird story adventures:

  • Visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – ALL ABOUT BIRDS –  Purple Finch
  • Visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – ALL ABOUT BIRDS –  Goldfinch
  • Visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – ALL ABOUT BIRDS – Goldfinches at bird feeder – molting
  • Nature journal coloring pages at Cornell Common Feeder Birds FREE (page W70 Purple Finch).
  • Q/A –Questions with answers to keep this conversation going are available for both Goldfinch (p. 53-57)  in the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock offered FREE online HERE.
  • Another option is to get a copy of Fifty Favorite Birds Coloring Book by Lisa Bonforte and some colored pencils to complete the drawing of a Goldfinch (p19).

  • Also a copy of Audubon’s Birds of America Coloring Book by Paul E. Kennedy with a Purple Finch on page 12 and an American Goldfinch on page 16.

FYI -These coloring books are an excellent companion for this bird story series.


Source: Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton Burgess

P.L.A.Y. has provided a new online version of all 45 chapters of this updated and annotated 100+ year old public domain classic to:

  • be suitable for the 21st century family by having the Thornton Burgess woodland characters evolve to model mindfulness and loving kindness
  • highlight and bring awareness to the New England nature settings and offer an opportunity to learn more about birds and other woodland animals through this story adventure
  • create story extension moments through P.L.A.Y. suggested activities and investigations for making new nature connections generated by the reader’s own curiosity
  • encourage families to keep their own nature notebooks for drawing, writing, painting, and recording their own local daily outdoor P.L.A.Y. adventures.

P.L.A.Y. Time – Pass it on!

Toad BOOK LOOK #7: More Activities + The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated)

 


 ~ ~ ~ BOOK LOOK ~ ~ ~


The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated):

A P.L.A.Y. Nature Activity Story Book 

by Karen L. Willard

Join Peter Rabbit and friends on adventures discovering all about Old Mr. Toad and his days spent in and out of the water!

See sample story pages + purchase HERE

More Tadpoles + Toads in motion at PINTEREST HERE.


Karen’s P.L.A.Y.ful preview & P.L.A.Y.-filled activity suggestions.


P.L.A.Y.ful preview (short):

Toad Tales for the Young and Young at Heart

Singing at the Smiling Pool Playground

Old Mr. Toad’s Odd Tongue

P.L.A.Y.-filled companion activity adventure suggestions (long):

  • Challenge: Read this lively story of Old Mr. Toad’s adventures with his friends and illustrate each chapter with your one-of-a-kind super special drawings.
  • Super Challenge: Using the black and white photos in this P.L.A.Y. book and color photos on this website see if you can discover Old Mr. Toad and his tadpoles and toadlets outdoors near to where you live in late spring and throughout the summer. Remember – toads lay egg strands and frogs lay egg clusters!
  • Super-Duper Challenge: Visit Pinterest to see videos of the Toads in action HERE.

Share the smiles by emailing or snail mailing your original drawings of Old Mr. Toad’s adventures to Karen at P.L.A.Y. and perhaps you’ll see them posted up on P.L.A.Y. to pass the fun forward!


Capkins LOVE to be read nature stories AND to P.L.A.Y. outdoors.

❤ ❤ ❤

These TOAD-ally awesome books are a highly recommended way to extend your P.L.A.Y. adventures.


This picture book, The Hidden Life of a Toad by Doug Wechsler, compliments The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated) by providing color photographs and great factual details about the daily changes of the life cycle of a toad.


Mary Holland‘s book Naturally Curious Day-By-Day is a fabulous resource to have on hand if you live in New England or are simply curious about the flora & fauna in the Northeast USA.

Pages 36, 55-57, 73, 118, 159, and 196 specifically share great information about TOADS.


If you’d like to compare toads and frogs then this is a fun (with some facts) frog fairy tale chapter book titled The Prince of the Pond by Donna Jo Napoli. This story is an excellent read aloud with a few characters to add in funny voices if you like. Enjoyable for the whole family!


TOAD Pinterest Board HERE 

❤ ❤ ❤

Bird BOOK LOOK – Chapter 32 – Eastern Towhee + Indigo Bunting


Missed Chapter 1? Begin HERE



CHAPTER 32 – Peter Saves a Friend and Learns Something


Peter Rabbit sat in a thicket of young trees on the edge of the Green Forest. It was warm and Peter was taking it easy. He had nothing in particular to do, and since he could not think of a cooler place he had squatted there to doze a bit and dream a bit. As far as he knew, Peter was all alone. He hadn’t seen anybody when he entered that little thicket, and though he had listened he hadn’t heard a sound to indicate that he didn’t have that thicket to himself. It was very quiet there, and though when he first entered he hadn’t the least intention in the world of going to sleep, it wasn’t long before he was dozing.

Now Peter is a light sleeper, as all little people who never know when they may have to run for their lives must be. By and by he awoke with a start, and he was very wide awake indeed. Something had wakened him, though just what it was he couldn’t say. His long ears stood straight up as he listened with all his might for some little sound which might mean danger. His wobbly little nose wobbled very fast indeed as it tested the air for the scent of a possible enemy. Very alert was Peter as he waited.

For a few minutes he heard nothing and saw nothing. Then, near the outer edge of the thicket, he heard a great rustling of dry leaves. It must have been this that had wakened him. For just an instant Peter was startled. Then his long ears told him at once that that noise was made by some one scratching among the leaves, and he knew that no one who did not wear feathers could scratch like that.

“Now who can that be?” thought Peter, and crept forward very softly towards the place from which the sound came. Presently, as he peeped between the stems of the young trees, he saw the brown leaves which carpeted the ground flying this way and that, and in the midst of them was an exceedingly busy person, a little smaller than Welcome Robin, scratching away for dear life.


Thicket of trees on the edge of the Green Forest near to a green meadow and mossy area.


Every now and then he picked up something. His head, throat, back, and breast were black. Beneath he was white. His sides were reddish-brown. His tail was black and white, and the longer feathers of his wings were edged with white. It was Chewink the Towhee, sometimes called a Ground Robin.

Peter chuckled to himself. He kept perfectly still, for it was fun to watch someone who hadn’t the least idea that he was being watched. It was quite clear that Chewink was hungry and that under those dry leaves he was finding a good meal. His feet were made for scratching and he certainly knew how to use them. For some time Peter sat there watching. He had just about made up his mind that he would make his presence known and have a bit of a morning chat when, happening to look out beyond the edge of the little thicket, he saw something red. It was something moving very slowly and cautiously towards the place where Chewink was so busy and focused on his breakfast that he forgot about everything else around him. Peter knew that there was only one person with a coat of that color. It was Reddy Fox, and quite plainly Reddy was hoping to catch Chewink.

For a second or two Peter was quite undecided what to do. He couldn’t warn Chewink without making his own presence known to Reddy Fox. Of course he could sit perfectly still and let Chewink be caught, and that was such a dreadful thought that Peter didn’t consider it for more than a second or two. He suddenly thumped the ground with his feet. It was his danger signal which all his friends know. Then he turned and scampered lipperty-lipperty-lip to a thick bramble tangle not far behind him.

At the sound of that thump Chewink instantly flew up in a little tree. Then he saw Reddy Fox and began to scold. As for Reddy, he looked over towards the bramble tangle and snarled. “I’ll get you one of these days, Peter Rabbit,” he said. “I’ll get you one of these days and pay you up for cheating me out of a breakfast.” Without so much as a glance at Chewink, Reddy turned and trotted off, trying his best to look dignified and as if he had never entertained such a thought as trying to catch Chewink.

From his perch Chewink watched until he was sure that Reddy Fox had gone away for good. Then he called softly, “Towhee! Towhee! Chewink! Chewink! All is safe now, Peter Rabbit. Come out and talk with me and let me tell you how grateful to you I am for saving my life.”

Chewink flew down to the ground and Peter crept out of the bramble tangle. “Oh, it wasn’t anything,” declared Peter. “I saw Reddy and I knew you didn’t, so I gave the alarm. You would have done the same thing for me. Do you know, Chewink, I’ve wondered a great deal about you.”

“What have you wondered about me?” asked Chewink.

“I’ve wondered what family you belong to,” admitted Peter.


Towhee by Louis Agassiz Fuertes


Chewink chuckled. “I belong to a big family,” he said. “I belong to the biggest family among the birds. It is the Finch and Sparrow family. There are a lot of us and a good many of us don’t look much alike, still we belong to the same family. I suppose you know that Rosebreast the Grosbeak and Glory the Cardinal are members of my family.”

“I did not know it,” replied Peter. “It is easier to believe than it is to believe that you are related to the Sparrows.”

“Nevertheless I am,” remarked Chewink.

“What were you scratching for when I first saw you?” asked Peter.

“Oh, worms and bugs that hide under the leaves,” replied Chewink. “You have no idea how many of them hide under dead leaves.”

“Do you eat anything else?” asked Peter.

“I am very fond of berries and wild fruits in season,” replied Chewink, “as they make a nice variety in the bill of fare.”

“I’ve noticed that I seldom see you up in the tree tops,” mused Peter.

“I like the ground better,” said Chewink. “I spend more of my time on the ground than anywhere else.”

“I suppose that means that you nest on the ground,” ventured Peter.

Chewink nodded. “Of course,” he said. “As a matter of fact, I’ve got a nest in this very thicket. Mrs. Towhee is on it right now, and I suspect she’s worrying and anxious to know what happened over here when you warned me about Reddy Fox. I think I must go set her mind at rest.”

Peter was just about to ask if he might go along and see that nest when a new voice broke in.


Towhees like bugs and worms found in leaf litter.


“What are you fellows talking about?” it inquired, and there flitted just in front of Peter a little bird the size of a Sparrow. At first glance he seemed to be all blue, and such a lovely bright blue. Then as he paused for an instant Peter saw that his wings and tail were mostly black and that the lovely blue was brightest on his head and back. It was Indigo the Bunting.

“We were talking about our family,” replied Chewink. “I was telling Peter that we belong to the largest family among the birds.”

“You didn’t say anything about Indigo,” interrupted Peter. “Do you mean to say that he belongs to the same family?”

“I surely do,” replied Indigo. “I’m rather closely related to the Sparrow branch. Don’t I look like a Sparrow?”

Peter looked at Indigo closely. “In size and shape you do,” he confessed, “just the same I did not connect you with the Sparrows.”

“How about me?” asked another voice, and a little brown bird flew up beside Indigo, twitching her tail nervously. She looked very Sparrow-like indeed, so much so, that if Peter had not seen her with her handsome mate, for she was Mrs. Indigo Bunting, he certainly would have taken her for a Sparrow. Only on her wings and tail was there any of the blue which made Indigo’s coat so beautiful, and this was only a faint tinge.

“I’ll have to confess that so far as you are concerned it isn’t hard to think of you as related to the Sparrows,” declared Peter. “Don’t you sometimes wish you were dressed as Indigo in bright blue?”

Mrs. Indigo Bunting shook her head in a most decided way. “Never!” she declared. “I have worries enough raising a family as it is, if I had a coat like his I wouldn’t have a moment of peace. You have no idea how I worry about him sometimes. You ought to be thankful, Peter Rabbit, that you haven’t a coat like his. It attracts altogether too much attention.”

Peter tried to picture himself in a bright blue coat and laughed right out at the mere thought, and the others joined with him. Then Indigo flew up to the top of a tall tree not far away and began to sing. It was a lively song and Peter enjoyed it thoroughly. Mrs. Indigo Bunting took this opportunity to slip away unobserved, and when Peter looked around for Chewink, he too had disappeared. He had gone to tell Mrs. Chewink that he was quite safe and that she had nothing to worry about.


P.L.A.Y. in Place Projects


Try these activities to extend your bird story adventures:

  • Another option is to get a copy of Fifty Favorite Birds Coloring Book by Lisa Bonforte and some colored pencils to complete the drawing of a Eastern Towhee (p41).

  • Also a copy of Audubon’s Birds of America Coloring Book by Paul E. Kennedy with a Towhee on page 39.

FYI -These coloring books are an excellent companion for this bird story series.


Source: Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton Burgess

P.L.A.Y. has provided a new online version of all 45 chapters of this updated and annotated 100+ year old public domain classic to:

  • be suitable for the 21st century family by having the Thornton Burgess woodland characters evolve to model mindfulness and loving kindness
  • highlight and bring awareness to the New England nature settings and offer an opportunity to learn more about birds and other woodland animals through this story adventure
  • create story extension moments through P.L.A.Y. suggested activities and investigations for making new nature connections generated by the reader’s own curiosity
  • encourage families to keep their own nature notebooks for drawing, writing, painting, and recording their own local daily outdoor P.L.A.Y. adventures.

P.L.A.Y. Time – Pass it on!

Bird BOOK LOOK – Chapter 31 – Wood Thrush + Veery


Missed Chapter 1? Begin HERE



Chapter 31 – Voices of the Dusk


Jolly, round, red Mr. Sun was just going to bed behind the Purple Hills and the Dark Shadows had begun to creep all through the Green Forest and out across the Green Meadows. It was the hour of the day Peter Rabbit loves best. He sat on the edge of the Green Forest watching for the first little star to twinkle high up in the sky. Peter felt at peace with all the Great World, for it was the hour of peace, the hour of rest for those who had been busy all through the shining day.

Most of Peter’s feathered friends had settled themselves for the coming night, the worries and cares of the day over and forgotten. All the Great World seemed hushed. In the distance Sweetvoice the Vesper Sparrow was pouring out his evening song, for it was the hour when he dearly loves to sing. Far back in the Green Forest Whip-poor-will was calling as if his very life depended on the number of times he could say, “Whip-poor-Will,” without taking a breath. From overhead came now and then the sharp cry of Boomer the Nighthawk, as he hunted his supper in the air.


Jolly Mr. Sun going to bed behind the Purple Hills.


For a time it seemed as if these were the only feathered friends still awake, and Peter couldn’t help thinking that those who went so early to bed missed the most beautiful hour of the whole day. Then, from a tree just back of him, there poured forth a song so clear, so sweet, so wonderfully suited to that peaceful hour, that Peter held his breath until it was finished. He knew that singer and loved him. It was Melody the Wood Thrush.

When the song ended Peter hopped over to the tree from which it had come. It was still light enough for him to see the sweet singer. He sat on a branch near the top, his head thrown back and his soft, full throat throbbing with the flute like notes he was pouring forth. He was a little smaller than Welcome Robin. His coat was a beautiful reddish-brown, not quite so bright as that of Brownie the Thrasher. Beneath he was white with large, black spots thickly dotting his breast and sides. He was singing as if he were trying to put into those beautiful notes all the joy of life. Listening to it Peter felt a wonderful feeling of peace and pure happiness. Not for the world would he have interrupted it.

The Dark Shadows crept far across the Green Meadows and it became so dusky in the Green Forest that Peter could barely make out the sweet singer above his head. Still Melody sang on and the hush of eventide grew deeper, as if all the Great World were holding its breath to listen. It was not until several little stars had begun to twinkle high up in the sky that Melody stopped singing and sought the safety of his hidden perch for the night. Peter felt sure that somewhere near was a nest and that one thing which had made that song so beautiful was the love Melody had been trying to express to the little mate sitting on the eggs that nest must contain. “I’ll just run back over here early in the morning,” thought Peter.


Wood Thrush by Louis Agassiz Fuertes


Now Peter is a great hand to stay out all night, and that is just what he did that night. Just before it was time for jolly, round, red Mr. Sun to kick off his rosy blankets and begin his daily climb up in the blue, blue sky, Peter started for home in the dear Old Briar-patch. Everywhere in the Green Forest, in the Old Orchard, on the Green Meadows, his feathered friends were awakening. He had quite forgotten his intention to visit Melody and was reminded of it only when again he heard those beautiful flute like notes. At once he scampered over to where he had spent such a peaceful hour the evening before. Melody saw him at once and dropped down on the ground for a little chat while he scratched among the leaves in search of his breakfast.

“I just love to hear you sing, Melody,” Peter said rather breathlessly. “I don’t know of any other song that makes me feel quite as yours does, so perfectly contented and free of care and worry.”

“Thank you,” replied Melody. “I’m glad you like to hear me sing for there is nothing I like to do better. It is the one way in which I can express my feelings. I love all the Great World and I just have to tell it so. I do not mean to boast when I say that all the Thrush family have good voices.”

“You have the best of all,” declared Peter.

Melody shook his brown head. “I wouldn’t say that,” he said modestly. “I think the song of my cousin Hermit, is even more beautiful than mine. And then there is my other cousin, Veery. His song is wonderful, I think.”

Just then Peter’s curiosity was greater than his interest in songs. “Have you built your nest yet?” he asked.

Melody nodded. “It is in a little tree not far from here,” he said, “and Mrs. Wood Thrush is sitting on five eggs this very minute. Isn’t that perfectly lovely?”

It was Peter’s turn to nod. “What is your nest built of?” he inquired.


Wood Thrushes feed on bugs including flies.


“Rootlets, tiny twigs, weed stalks, leaves, and mud,” replied Melody.

“Mud!” exclaimed Peter. “Why, that’s what Welcome Robin uses in his nest.”

“Well, Welcome Robin is my own cousin, so there isn’t anything so surprising in that,” replied Melody.

“Oh,” said Peter. “I had forgotten that he is a member of the Thrush family.”

“Yes, even if he is dressed quite differently from the rest of us,” replied Melody.

“You mentioned your cousin, Hermit. I don’t believe I know him,” said Peter.

“Then it’s high time you got acquainted with him,” answered Melody. “He is rather fond of being by himself and that is why he is called the Hermit Thrush. He is smaller than I and his coat is not such a bright brown. His tail is brighter than his coat. He has a waistcoat spotted very much like mine. Some folks consider him the most beautiful singer of the Thrush family. I’m glad you like my song, however you must hear Hermit sing. I really think there is no song so beautiful in all the Green Forest.”

“Does he build a nest like yours?” asked Peter.

“No,” replied Melody. “He builds his nest on the ground, and he doesn’t use any mud. Now if you’ll excuse me, Peter, I must get my breakfast and give Mrs. Wood Thrush a chance to get hers.”


A laughing brook in spring winding its way along the edge of the Green Forest.


So Peter continued on his way to the dear Old Briar-patch and there he spent the day. As evening approached he decided to go back to hear Melody sing again. Just as he drew near the Green Forest he heard from the direction of the Laughing Brook a song that caused him to change his mind and sent him hurrying in that direction. It was a very different song from that of Melody the Wood Thrush, yet, if he had never heard it before, Peter would have known that such a song could come from no throat except that of a member of the Thrush family. As he drew near the Laughing Brook the beautiful notes seemed to ring through the Green Forest like a bell.

As Melody’s song had filled Peter with a feeling of peace, so this song stirred in him a feeling of the wonderful mystery of life. There was in it the very spirit of the Green Forest.

It didn’t take Peter long to find the singer. It was a forest thrush named Veery.

At the sound of the patter of Peter’s feet the song stopped abruptly and he was greeted with a whistled “Wheeu! wheeu!” Then, seeing that it was no one of whom he need be afraid, Veery came out from under some ferns to greet Peter. He was smaller than Melody the Wood Thrush, being about one-fourth smaller than Welcome Robin. He wore a brown coat but it was not as bright as that of his cousin, Melody. His breast was somewhat faintly spotted with brown, and below he was white. His sides were grayish-white and not spotted like the sides of Melody.

“I heard you singing and I just had to come over to see you,” offered Peter.

“I hope you like my song,” said Veery. “I love to sing just at this hour and I love to think that other people like to hear me.”

“They do,” declared Peter most emphatically. “I can’t imagine how anybody could fail to like to hear you. I came way over here just to sit a while and listen. Won’t you sing some more for me, Veery?”


Peter Rabbit finds purple clover to be a sweet treat (and this one has a bonus bee! )


“I certainly will, Peter,” replied Veery. “I wouldn’t feel that I was going to bed right if I didn’t sing until dark. There is no part of the day I love better than the evening, and the only way I can express my happiness and my love of the Green Forest and the joy of just being back here at home is by singing.”

Veery slipped out of sight, and almost at once his bell like notes began to ring through the Green Forest. Peter sat right where he was, content to just listen and feel within himself the joy of being alive and happy in the beautiful spring season which Veery was expressing so wonderfully. The Dark Shadows grew blacker. One by one the little stars came out and twinkled down through the tree tops. Finally from deep in the Green Forest sounded the hunting call of Hooty the Owl. Veery’s song stopped. “Goodnight, Peter,” he called softly.

“Goodnight, Veery,” replied Peter and hopped back towards the Green Meadows for a feast of sweet clover.


P.L.A.Y. in Place Projects


Try these activities to extend your bird story adventures:

  • Visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – ALL ABOUT BIRDS –  Wood Thrush
  • Visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – ALL ABOUT BIRDS –  Veery
  • Visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – ALL ABOUT BIRDS – Bird ID: Songs and Calls
  • Visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – ALL ABOUT BIRDS – All About Feathers
  • Fifty Favorite Birds Coloring Book by Lisa Bonforte offers a page for the Wood Thrush (36). Colored pencil use recommended.

*This coloring book is inexpensive, easy to find, and an excellent companion to this bird story series.


Source: Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton Burgess

P.L.A.Y. has provided a new online version of all 45 chapters of this updated and annotated 100+ year old public domain classic to:

  • be suitable for the 21st century family by having the Thornton Burgess woodland characters evolve to model mindfulness and loving kindness
  • highlight and bring awareness to the New England nature settings and offer an opportunity to learn more about birds and other woodland animals through this story adventure
  • create story extension moments through P.L.A.Y. suggested activities and investigations for making new nature connections generated by the reader’s own curiosity
  • encourage families to keep their own nature notebooks for drawing, writing, painting, and recording their own local daily outdoor P.L.A.Y. adventures.

Feathered Friend BONUS!


Wood Thrush

Here am I come the Wood Thrush’s three clear, bell-like notes of self-introduction. The quality of his music is delicious, rich, penetrative, pure and vibrating like notes struck upon a harp. If you don’t already know this most neighborly of the thrushes—as he is also the largest and brightest and most heavily spotted of them all—you will presently become acquainted with one of the finest songsters in America. Wait until evening when he sings at his best. Nolee-a-e-o-lee-nolee-aeolee-lee! peals his song from the trees.

Wood thrushes seem to delight in weaving bits of paper or rags into their deep cradles which otherwise resemble the robins.’ A nest in the shrubbery near a bird-lover’s home in New Jersey had many bits of newspaper attached to its outer walls, the most conspicuous strip in front advertised in large letters “A House to be Let or Sold.” The original builders happily took the next lease, and another lot of nervous, fidgety baby tenants came out of four light greenish-blue eggs; and as usual, they moved away to the woods, after ten days, to join the choir invisible.” ~ Birds Every Child Should Know by Neltje Blanchan Copyright 1907


P.L.A.Y. + Pass it on!

Bird BOOK LOOK – Chapter 30 – Thrasher + Mockingbird


Missed Chapter 1? Begin HERE



Chapter 30 – Jenny Wren’s Cousins


Peter Rabbit never will forget his surprise when Jenny Wren asked him one spring morning if he had seen anything of her big cousin. Peter hesitated. As a matter of fact, he couldn’t think of any big cousin of Jenny Wren. All the cousins he knew anything about were very nearly Jenny’s own size.

“Have you seen anything of my big cousin? It is high time for him to be here,” declared Jenny.

“To be quite honest, I don’t know him,” replied Peter.

“Oh yes you do, I mean Brownie the Thrasher!” boomed Jenny.

In his surprise Peter fairly jumped right off the ground. “What’s that?” he exclaimed. “Since when was Brownie the Thrasher related to the Wren family?”

“Ever since there have been any Wrens and Thrashers,” proclaimed Jenny. “Brownie belongs to one branch of the family and I belong to another, and that makes him my second cousin.”

“And here I have always supposed he belonged to the Thrush family,” Peter uttered. “He certainly looks like a Thrush.”

“Looking like one doesn’t make him one though,” observed Jenny. “And so do you know if he has he arrived yet?”

“Yes,” said Peter. “I saw him only yesterday on the edge of the Old Pasture. He was fussing around in the bushes and on the ground and jerking that long tail of his up and down and side wise as if he couldn’t decide what to do with it. I’ve never seen anybody twitch their tail
around the way he does.”

Jenny Wren giggled. “That’s just like him,” said she. “It is because he thrashes his tail around so much that he is called a Thrasher. And I suppose he was wearing his new spring suit.”


Thrasher by Louis Agassiz Fuertes


“Well, I don’t know whether it was a new suit or not, however it was good looking,” replied Peter. “I just love that beautiful reddish-brown of his back, wings and tail, and it certainly does set off his white and buff waistcoat with those dark streaks and spots. You must admit, Jenny Wren, that any one seeing him dressed so much like the Thrushes is to be excused for thinking him a Thrush.”

“I suppose so,” admitted Jenny. “However, none of the Thrushes have such a bright brown coat. Did you notice what a long bill he has?”

Peter nodded. “And I noticed that he had two white bars on each wing,” he said.

“Did you hear him sing?” asked Jenny.

“Did I hear him sing? Oh yes!” cried Peter, his eyes shining at the memory. “He sang especially for me. He flew up to the top of a tree, tipped his head back and sang as few birds I know of can sing. He has a wonderful voice. And when he’s singing he acts as if he enjoyed it himself and knows what a good singer he is. I noticed that long tail of his hung straight down the same way Mr. Wren’s does when he sings.”

“Yes,” agreed Jenny. “That is a family trait and the tails of both my other big cousins do the same thing.”

“What’s that? Have you got more big cousins?” cried Peter in disbelief.

“Certainly,” reassured Jenny. “Mocker the Mockingbird and Kitty the Catbird belong to Brownie’s family, so they are my second cousins.”

Such a funny expression as there was on Peter’s face. He felt that Jenny Wren was telling the truth, and yet it was surprising news to him and so hard to believe that for a few minutes he couldn’t find his tongue to ask another question. Finally he ventured to ask, “Does Brownie imitate the songs of other birds the way Mocker and Kitty do?”

Jenny Wren shook her head. “No,” she said. “He’s perfectly satisfied with his own song.” Before she could add anything further the clear whistle of Glory the Cardinal sounded from a tree just a little way off. Instantly Peter forgot all about Jenny Wren’s relatives and scampered over to that tree. You see Glory is so beautiful that Peter never loses a chance to see him.

As Peter sat staring up into the tree, trying to get a glimpse of Glory’s beautiful red coat, the clear, sweet whistle sounded once more. It drew Peter’s eyes to one of the upper branches, and instead of the brilliant red coat of Glory the Cardinal he saw a bird about the size of Welcome Robin dressed in ashy-gray with two white bars on his wings, and white feathers on the outer edges of his tail. He was very trim and neat and his tail hung straight down after the manner of Brownie’s when he was singing. It was a long tail, although not as long as Brownie’s. Even as Peter blinked and stared in surprise the stranger opened his mouth and from it came Glory’s own beautiful whistle. Then the stranger looked down at Peter, and his eyes twinkled with mischief.

“Fooled you that time, didn’t I, Peter?” he chuckled. “You thought you were going to see Glory the Cardinal.”


Mockingbirds are attracted to fruit trees.


Then without waiting for Peter to reply, this stranger gave such a concert as no one else in the world could give. From that wonderful throat poured out song after song and note after note of Peter’s familiar friends of the Old Orchard, and the performance wound up with a lovely song which was all the stranger’s own. Peter didn’t have to be told who the stranger was. It was Mocker the Mockingbird.

“Oh!” gasped Peter. “Oh, Mocker, how under the sun do you do it? I was sure that it was Glory whom I heard whistling. Never again will I be able to believe my own ears.”

Mocker chuckled. “You’re not the only one I’ve fooled, Peter,” he said. “I flatter myself that I can fool almost anybody if I set out to. It’s
lots of fun. I may not be much to look at, and yet when it comes to singing there’s no one I envy.”

“I think you are very nice looking indeed,” replied Peter politely. “I’ve just been finding out this morning that you can’t tell much about folks just by their looks.”

“And now you’ve learned that you can’t always recognize folks by their voices, haven’t you?” chuckled Mocker.

“Yes,” replied Peter. “Now I shall never be sure about any feathered folks unless I can both see and hear them. Would you sing for me again, Mocker?”


Blackberry brambles are much loved by mockingbirds.


Mocker did. He sang and sang, for he clearly loves to sing. When he finished Peter had another question ready. “Somebody told me once that down in the South you are the most loved of all the birds. Is that so?”

“That’s not for me to say,” replied Mocker modestly. “I can tell you this, Peter, they do think a lot of me down there. There are many birds down there who are very beautifully dressed, birds who don’t come up here at all. Not one of them is loved as I am, and it is all on account of my voice. I would rather have a beautiful voice than a fine coat.”

“There’s Mrs. Goldy the Oriole over there,” said Mocker. “Watch me fool her.”

He began to call in exact imitation of Goldy’s voice when he is anxious about something. At once Mrs. Goldy came hurrying over to find out what the trouble was. When she discovered Mocker she lost her temper and scolded him; then she flew away a perfect picture of indignation. Mocker and Peter laughed, for they thought it a good joke.

Suddenly Peter remembered what Jenny Wren had told him. “Jenny said that you are a second cousin of hers. Are you really?” he asked.

Mocker nodded. “Yes,” he said, “we are relatives. We each belong to a branch of the same family.” Then he burst into Mr. Wren’s own song,
after which he excused himself and went to look for Mrs. Mockingbird. For, as he explained, it was time for them to be thinking of a nest.


P.L.A.Y. in Place Projects


Try these activities to extend your bird story adventures:

  • Visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – ALL ABOUT BIRDS –  Brown Thrasher
  • Visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – ALL ABOUT BIRDS –  Northern Mockingbird
  • Q/A –Questions with answers to keep this conversation going are available for both Mockingbird (p. 91-94) in the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock offered FREE online HERE.
  • Another option is to get a copy of Fifty Favorite Birds Coloring Book by Lisa Bonforte and some colored pencils to complete the drawings of a Brown Thrasher (p8) and a Mockingbird (p27).

  • Also a copy of Audubon’s Birds of America Coloring Book by Paul E. Kennedy with a Brown Thrasher on page 38.

FYI -These coloring books are an excellent companion for this bird story series.


Source: Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton Burgess

P.L.A.Y. has provided a new online version of all 45 chapters of this updated and annotated 100+ year old public domain classic to:

  • be suitable for the 21st century family by having the Thornton Burgess woodland characters evolve to model mindfulness and loving kindness
  • highlight and bring awareness to the New England nature settings and offer an opportunity to learn more about birds and other woodland animals through this story adventure
  • create story extension moments through P.L.A.Y. suggested activities and investigations for making new nature connections generated by the reader’s own curiosity
  • encourage families to keep their own nature notebooks for drawing, writing, painting, and recording their own local daily outdoor P.L.A.Y. adventures.

P.L.A.Y. Time – Pass it on!

Bird BOOK LOOK – Chapter 29 – Vireo + Another Warbler


Missed Chapter 1? Begin HERE



Chapter 29 – The Constant Singers


Over in a maple tree on the edge of Farmer Brown’s door yard lived Redeye the Vireo and Mrs. Vireo. Peter Rabbit knew that they had a nest there because Jenny Wren had told him so. He would have guessed it anyway, because Redeye spent so much time in that tree during the nesting season. No matter what hour of the day Peter visited the Old Orchard he heard Redeye singing over in the maple tree. Peter used to think that if song is an expression of happiness, Redeye must be the happiest of all birds.

He was a little fellow about the size of one of the larger Warblers and quite as modestly dressed as any of Peter’s acquaintances. The crown of his head was gray with a little blackish border on either side. Over each eye was a white line. Underneath he was white. For the rest he was dressed in light olive-green. The first time he came down near enough for Peter to see him well Peter understood at once why he is called Redeye as his eyes were truly red.

However it wasn’t often that Redeye came down so near the ground that Peter could see his eyes. He preferred to spend most of his time in the tree tops, and Peter only got glimpses of him now and then. It was even less often that he actually heard him. “I don’t see when Redeye finds time to eat,” declared Peter as he listened to the seemingly unending song in the maple tree.

“Redeye believes in singing while he works,” said Jenny Wren. “For my part I should think he’d wear his throat out. When other birds sing they don’t do anything else versus Redeye sings all the time he is looking for his meals and only stops long enough to swallow a worm or a bug when he finds it. Just as soon as it is down he begins to sing again while he looks for another. And I must say for the Vireos that they are mighty good nest builders. Have you seen their nest over in that maple tree, Peter?”

Peter shook his head. “I don’t dare go over there except very early in the morning before Farmer Brown’s folks are awake,” he said, “so I haven’t had much chance to look for it.”

“You probably couldn’t see it, anyway,” declared Jenny Wren. “They have placed it rather high up from the ground and those leaves are so thick that they hide it. It’s a regular little basket fastened in a fork near the end of a branch and it is woven almost as nicely as is the nest of Goldy the Oriole. How anybody has the patience to weave a nest like that is beyond me.”

“What is it made of?” asked Peter.


Maple tree leaves dressed in autumn red.


“Strips of bark, plant down, spider’s web, grass, and pieces of paper!” replied Jenny. “That’s a funny thing about Redeye; he dearly loves a piece of paper in his nest. He’s as fussy about having a scrap of paper as Cresty the Flycatcher is about having a piece of snake skin. I had just a peep into that nest a few days ago and unless I am greatly mistaken Sally the Cowbird has managed to impose on the Verios. I am certain I saw one of her eggs in that nest.”

A few mornings after this talk with Jenny Wren about Redeye the Vireo Peter once more visited the Old Orchard. No sooner did he come in sight than Jenny Wren’s tongue began to fly. “What did I tell you, Peter Rabbit? I knew it was so, and it is!” cried Jenny.

“What is so?” asked Peter, for he hadn’t the least idea what Jenny Wren was talking about.

“Sally the Cowbird did lay an egg in Redeye’s nest, and now it has hatched and I don’t know whatever is to become of Redeye’s own children!” cried Jenny, and hopped about and jerked her tail and worked herself into a small brown fury.

“The Vireos are working themselves to feathers and bone feeding that young Cowbird while their own babies aren’t getting half enough to eat,” continued Jenny. “One of them has died already. He was kicked out of the nest by that young Cowbird.”

“Oh my!” cried Peter. “If he does things like that I should think the Vireos would throw him out of the nest.”

“They’re too soft-hearted,” declared Jenny. “They say it isn’t his fault that he’s there, and that he’s nothing but a helpless baby, and so they just take care of him.”

“Then why don’t they feed their own babies first and give him what’s left?” Peter wondered.


Curious Capkin finds a strip of bark just right for a bird’s nest.


“Because he’s twice as big as any of their own babies and so strong that he simply snatches the food out of the very mouths of the others. Because he gets most of the food, he’s growing twice as fast as they are. He might kick all the rest of them out before he gets through. Mr. and Mrs. Vireo are dreadfully distressed about it, and yet they will feed him because they say it isn’t his fault.”

“Speaking of the Vireos, Redeye seems to be the only member of his family around here,” remarked Peter.

“Hold on, listen!” said Jenny Wren. “Do you hear that warbling song way over in the big elm in front of Farmer Brown’s house where Goldy the Oriole has his nest?”

Peter listened. At first he didn’t hear it, and then he did. The voice was not unlike that of Redeye, the song was smoother though, more continuous and sweeter. Peter’s face lit up. “I do hear it,” he cried.

“That’s Redeye’s cousin, the Warbling Vireo,” said Jenny. “He sings from the time jolly Mr. Sun gets up in the morning until he goes to bed at night. He sings when it is so hot that the rest of us are glad to keep still for comfort’s sake. I don’t know of anybody more fond of the tree tops than he is. He doesn’t seem to care anything about the Old Orchard, he just stays over in those big trees along the road. He’s got a nest over in that big elm and it is as high up as that of Goldy the Oriole; I haven’t seen it myself, Goldy told me about it.”

“Somehow I don’t remember just what Warble looks like,” Peter confessed.

“He looks a lot like his cousin, Redeye,” replied Jenny. “His coat is a little duller olive-green and underneath he is a little bit yellowish instead of white. Of course he doesn’t have red eyes, and he is a little smaller than Redeye. The whole family looks pretty much alike anyway.”

“They get me all mixed up,” declared Peter. “If only some of them had some bright colors it would be easier to tell them apart.”

“One has,” replied Jenny Wren. “He has a bright yellow throat and breast and is called the Yellow-throated Vireo. There isn’t the least chance of mistaking him.”

“Is he a singer, too?” asked Peter.

“Oh yes,” replied Jenny. “Every one in that family loves to sing. It’s a family trait. Now I must get on with my day, goodbye Peter.”

“Goodbye Jenny!” Peter called out as he hopped away to the dear Old Briar-patch.


Some birds prefer tall trees, especially for their homes.


P.L.A.Y. in Place Projects


Try these activities to extend your bird story adventures:

  • Visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – ALL ABOUT BIRDS –  Red-eyed Vireo
  • Visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – ALL ABOUT BIRDS –  Yellow-throated Warbler
  • Q/A –Questions with answers to keep this conversation going are available for both Maple Tree + Elm Tree (p. 628-637 ) in the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock offered FREE online HERE.
  • Another option is to get a copy of Fifty Favorite Birds Coloring Book by Lisa Bonforte and some colored pencils to complete the drawings of a Yellowthroat (p45) and a Red-eyed Vireo (p33).

FYI -This coloring book is an excellent companion for this bird story series with most of the 50 birds represented as characters throughout the chapters.


Source: Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton Burgess

P.L.A.Y. has provided a new online version of all 45 chapters of this updated and annotated 100+ year old public domain classic to:

  • be suitable for the 21st century family by having the Thornton Burgess woodland characters evolve to model mindfulness and loving kindness
  • highlight and bring awareness to the New England nature settings and offer an opportunity to learn more about birds and other woodland animals through this story adventure
  • create story extension moments through P.L.A.Y. suggested activities and investigations for making new nature connections generated by the reader’s own curiosity
  • encourage families to keep their own nature notebooks for drawing, writing, painting, and recording their own local daily outdoor P.L.A.Y. adventures.

P.L.A.Y. Time – Pass it on!

Toad BOOK LOOK #5: Tadpoles Hatching + The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated)

HATCHING

“As the embryos in the egg strands elongate they move more vigorously till on the second or third day they wriggle out of the jelly string. This is the hatching and they are now free in the water and can swim about. Initially they hang themselves up on the old egg string by means of a peculiar v-shaped organ on their heads.” ~ S.H. Gage, Life History of the Toad, Cornell Nature Study Leaflet, 1904

Have you ever seen a tiny “seedling” sized tadpole?

“At first the little tadpoles remain under water all the time and breathe the air dissolved in the water, just as a fish does. As they grow larger and larger, they rush up to the surface once in awhile and then dive down again, as if their lives depended on it. The older they grow the oftener they come to the surface. This is the tadpole getting ready to breathe the free air above the water when it turns into a toad and lives on the land.” ~ S.H. Gage, Life History of the Toad, Cornell Nature Study Leaflet, 1904

This seedling size tadpole was scooped up with a handful of water and only held for a moment to take a photo before replacing back in the water.

Watch a video of this tadpole in action HERE on PINTEREST.


 ~ ~ ~ BOOK LOOK ~ ~ ~


The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated):

A P.L.A.Y. Nature Activity Story Book 

by Karen L. Willard

Join Peter Rabbit and friends on adventures discovering all about Old Mr. Toad and his days spent in and out of the water!

See sample story pages + purchase HERE

More Tadpoles + Toads in motion at PINTEREST HERE.

Bird BOOK LOOK – Chapter 28 – Rose-breasted Grosbeak + Scarlet Tanager


Missed Chapter 1? Begin HERE



Chapter 28 – Peter Sees Rosebreast and Finds Redcoat


“Who is that?” Peter Rabbit pricked up his long ears and stared up at the tops of the trees of the Old Orchard.

Instantly Jenny Wren popped her head out of her doorway. She cocked her head to one side to listen.

Just then there were two or three rather sharp, squeaky notes from the top of one of the trees. “There!” cried Peter. “Did you hear that, Jenny?”

“Peter, that’s Rosebreast the Grosbeak. He and Mrs. Grosbeak have been here for quite a little while,” said Jenny, “Just listen to that song!”

Peter listened. There were many songs, for it was a very beautiful morning and all the singers of the Old Orchard were pouring out the joy that was within them. One song was a little louder and clearer than the others because it came from a tree very close at hand, the very tree from which those squeaky notes had come just a few minutes before. Peter suspected that that must be the song Jenny Wren meant. He was puzzled. “Do you mean Welcome Robin’s song?” he asked.

“No” said Jenny. “That song may sound something like Welcome Robin’s, and yet it isn’t Welcome Robin singing. Welcome Robin’s song is one of good cheer, and this one is of pure happiness.”

“Now you speak of it, Jenny, that song is quite different from Welcome Robin’s,” agreed Peter.

“That is Rosebreast singing right up in the top of that tree,” Jenny pointed out.


Rose-breasted Grosbeak by Louis Agassiz Fuertes


Peter looked up to see a bird a little smaller than Welcome Robin. His head, throat and back were black. His wings were black with patches of white on them. And it was his breast that made Peter catch his breath with a little gasp of admiration, for that breast was a beautiful rose-red. The rest of him underneath was white.

“Isn’t he lovely!” cried Peter, and added in the next breath, “Who is that with him?”

“Mrs. Grosbeak” replied Jenny.

“I would never have guessed it,” said Peter. “She doesn’t look the least bit like him.”

This was quite true. There was no rose color about Mrs. Grosbeak. She was dressed chiefly in brown and grayish colors with a little buff here and there and with dark streaks on her breast. Over each eye was a whitish line. Altogether she looked more as if she might be a big member of the Sparrow family than the wife of Rosebreast. While Rosebreast sang, Mrs. Grosbeak was very busily picking buds and blossoms from the tree.

“What is she doing that for?” inquired Peter.

“For the same reason that you bite off sweet clover blossoms and leaves,” replied Jenny Wren.

“Do you mean to say that they live on buds and blossoms?” asked Peter.

“Tut, tut, tut! Buds and blossoms don’t last long enough,” said Jenny. “They eat a few just for variety, and then mostly live on bugs and insects. You ask Farmer Brown’s boy who helps him most in his potato patch, and he’ll tell you it’s the Grosbeaks. They certainly do love potato bugs. They eat some fruit, however on the whole they are about as useful around a garden as any one I know. Now it is time to run along, Peter Rabbit.”


Buds and blossoms on an apple tree.


Seeing Farmer Brown’s boy coming through the Old Orchard Peter decided that it was high time for him to depart. So he scampered for the Green Forest, lipperty-lipperty-lip. Just within the edge of the Green Forest he caught sight of something which for the time being put all thought of Farmer Brown’s boy out of his head. Fluttering on the ground was a bird about the size of Redwing the Blackbird. His wings and tail were pure black and all the rest was a beautiful scarlet. It was Redcoat the Tanager. At first Peter had eyes only for the wonderful beauty of Redcoat. Never before had he seen Redcoat so close at hand. Then quite suddenly it came over Peter that something was wrong with Redcoat, and he hurried forward to see what the trouble might be.

Redcoat heard the rustle of Peter’s feet among the dry leaves and at once began to flap and flutter in an effort to fly away, and yet he could not get off the ground. “What is it, Redcoat? Has something happened to you? It is just Peter Rabbit. You don’t have anything to fear from me,” Peter said.

The look of terror which had been in the eyes of Redcoat died out, and he stopped fluttering and simply lay panting.

“Oh, Peter,” he gasped, “you don’t know how glad I am that it is only you. I’ve had a terrible accident, and I don’t know what I am to do. I can’t fly, and if I have to stay on the ground some predator will be sure to get me. What shall I do, Peter?”

Right away Peter wanted to help. “What kind of an accident was it, Redcoat, and how did it happen?” he asked.

“Broadwing the Hawk tried to catch me,” sobbed Redcoat. “In dodging him among the trees I did not see just where I was going. I struck a sharp-pointed dead twig and drove it right through my right wing.”

Redcoat held up his right wing and sure enough there was a small stick projecting from both sides close up to the shoulder. The wing was bleeding a little.

“Oh, dear, whatever shall I do, Peter Rabbit?” sobbed Redcoat.


Scarlet Tanager by Louis Agassiz Fuertes


“Does it pain you dreadfully?” asked Peter.

Redcoat nodded. “I don’t mind the pain,” he hastened to say. “It is the thought of what may happen to me.”

Meanwhile Mrs. Tanager was flying about in the tree tops near at hand and calling anxiously. She was dressed almost wholly in light olive-green and greenish-yellow. She looked no more like Redcoat than did Mrs. Grosbeak like Rosebreast.

“Can’t you fly up just a little way so as to get off the ground?” she cried anxiously. “Isn’t it dreadful, Peter Rabbit, to have such an accident? We’ve just got our nest half built, and I don’t know what Ishall do if anything happens to Redcoat. Oh dear, here comes somebody! Hide, Redcoat! Hide!” Mrs. Tanager flew off a short distance to one side and began to cry as if in the greatest distress. Peter knew instantly that she was crying to get the attention of whoever was coming.

Poor Redcoat, with the old look of terror in his eyes, fluttered along, trying to find something under which to hide. There was nothing under which he could crawl, and there was no hiding that wonderful red coat. Peter heard the sound of heavy footsteps, and looking back, saw that Farmer Brown’s boy was coming. “Don’t be afraid, Redcoat,” he whispered. “It’s Farmer Brown’s boy and I’m sure he won’t hurt you. Perhaps he can help you.” Then Peter scampered off for a short distance and sat up to watch what would happen.

Of course Farmer Brown’s boy saw Redcoat. He saw, too, by the way Redcoat was acting, that he was in great trouble. As Farmer Brown’s boy drew near and Redcoat saw that he was discovered, he tried his hardest to flutter away. Farmer Brown’s boy understood instantly that something was wrong with one wing, and running forward, he caught Redcoat.

“You poor, beautiful little creature,” said Farmer Brown’s boy softly as he saw the twig sticking through Redcoats’ shoulder. “We’ll have to get that out right away,” continued Farmer Brown’s boy, stroking Redcoat ever so gently.

Somehow with that gentle touch Redcoat lost much of his fear, and a little hope sprang in his heart. He saw, too, that this was a friend. Farmer Brown’s boy took out his knife and carefully cut off the twig on the upper side of the wing. Then, doing his best to be careful and to hurt as little as possible, he worked the other part of the twig out from the under side. Carefully he examined the wing to see if any bones were broken. None were, and after holding Redcoat a few minutes he carefully set him up in a tree and withdrew a short distance. Redcoat hopped from branch to branch until he was halfway up the tree. Then he sat there for some time as if fearful of trying that injured wing. Meanwhile Mrs. Tanager came and fussed about him and talked to him and coaxed him and made as much of him as if he were a baby.

Peter remained right where he was until at last he saw Redcoat spread his black wings and fly to another tree. From tree to tree he flew, resting a bit in each until he and Mrs. Tanager disappeared in the Green Forest.

“I knew Farmer Brown’s boy would help him, and I’m so glad he found him,” Peter pronounced happily and started for the dear Old Briar-patch.


P.L.A.Y. in Place Projects


Try these activities to extend your bird story adventures:

  • Visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – ALL ABOUT BIRDS –  Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  • Visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – ALL ABOUT BIRDS –  Scarlet Tanager
  • Q/A –Questions with answers to keep this conversation going are available for the Old Orchard filled with Apple Trees (p.661-668 ) in the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock offered FREE online HERE.
  • A copy of Audubon’s Birds of America Coloring Book by Paul E. Kennedy with a Rose-breasted Grosbeak coloring page (p18) and a Scarlet Tanager on page 37.

FYI -This coloring book is an excellent companion for this bird story series.


Source: Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton Burgess

P.L.A.Y. has provided a new online version of all 45 chapters of this updated and annotated 100+ year old public domain classic to:

  • be suitable for the 21st century family by having the Thornton Burgess woodland characters evolve to model mindfulness and loving kindness
  • highlight and bring awareness to the New England nature settings and offer an opportunity to learn more about birds and other woodland animals through this story adventure
  • create story extension moments through P.L.A.Y. suggested activities and investigations for making new nature connections generated by the reader’s own curiosity
  • encourage families to keep their own nature notebooks for drawing, writing, painting, and recording their own local daily outdoor P.L.A.Y. adventures.

P.L.A.Y. Time – Pass it on!

Bird BOOK LOOK – Chapter 27 – Cardinal + Catbird


Missed Chapter 1? Begin HERE



CHAPTER 27 – A New Friend and an Old One


Peter Rabbit never will forget the first time he caught a glimpse of Glory the Cardinal, sometimes called Redbird. He had come up to the Old Orchard for his usual morning visit and just as he hopped over the old stone wall he heard a beautiful clear, loud whistle which drew his eyes to the top of an apple tree. Peter stopped short with a little gasp of sheer astonishment and delight. Then he rubbed his eyes and looked again. He couldn’t quite believe what he saw. He hadn’t supposed that anyone, even among the feathered folks, could be quite so beautiful.

The stranger was dressed all in red, except a little black around the base of his bill. Even his bill was red. He wore a beautiful red crest which made him distinguished looking, and how he could sing! Peter had noticed that quite often the most beautifully dressed birds have the poorest songs. This stranger’s song was remarkably beautiful as his coat. Of course he lost no time in finding Jenny Wren. “Who is it, Jenny? Who is that beautiful stranger with such a lovely song?” cried Peter, as soon as he caught sight of her.

“It’s Glory the Cardinal,” replied Jenny. “Isn’t he the loveliest thing you’ve ever seen? I do hope he is going to stay here. As I said before, I don’t often envy anyone’s fine clothes, although when I see Glory I’m sometimes tempted to be envious. If I were Mrs. Cardinal I’m afraid I should be jealous. There she is in the very same tree with him. Did you ever see such a difference?”


Cardinal by Louis Agassiz Fuertes


Peter looked eagerly. Instead of red like Glory, Mrs. Cardinal’s back was a brownish-gray. Her throat was a grayish-black. Her breast was a dull buff with a faint tinge of red. Her wings and tail were tinged with dull red.

Altogether she was very trim, neat looking little person. And she could sing.

“Glory’s a model husband,” remarked Jenny. “If they make their home around here you’ll find him doing his full share in the care of their babies. Sometimes they raise two families. When they do that, Glory takes charge of the first lot of youngsters as soon as they are able to leave the nest so that Mrs. Cardinal has nothing to worry about while she is sitting on the second lot of eggs. He fusses over them as if they were the only children in the world. Excuse me, Peter, I’m going over to find out if they are really going to stay.”

When Jenny returned she was so excited she couldn’t keep still a minute. “They like it here, Peter!” she cried. “They like it so much that if they can find a place to suit them for a nest they’re going to stay. I told them that it is the very best place in the world. They like an evergreen tree to build in, and I think they’ve got their eyes on those evergreens up near Farmer Brown’s house.”


Simply sweet evergreens after a spring rain.


Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal whistled and sang as if their hearts were bursting with joy, and Peter stayed awhile to listen. He would have sat there the rest of the morning had he not caught sight of an old friend of whom he is very fond, Kitty the Catbird. In contrast with Glory, Kitty seemed a regular little Quaker, for he was dressed almost all in gray, a rather dark, slate-gray. The top of his head and tail were black, and right at the base of his tail was a patch of chestnut color. He was a little smaller than Welcome Robin.

Peter forgot all about Glory in his pleasure at discovering the returned Kitty and hurried over to welcome him. Kitty had disappeared among the bushes along the old stone wall, and Peter had no trouble in finding him because of the odd cries he was uttering, which were very like the meow of Black Shadow the Cat. They were very harsh and unpleasant and Peter understood perfectly why their maker is called the Catbird. He did not hurry in among the bushes at once instead he just waited expectantly. In a few minutes the harsh cries ceased and then there came from the very same place a song which seemed to be made up of parts of the songs of all the other birds of the Old Orchard.

It was not loud, it was simply charming. It contained the clear whistle of Glory, and there was even the tinkle of Little Friend the Song Sparrow. The notes of other friends were in that song, and with them were notes of southern birds whose songs Kitty had learned while spending the winter in the South. Then there were notes all his own.

Peter listened until the song ended, then scampered in among the bushes. At once those harsh cries broke out again. You would have thought that Kitty was scolding Peter for coming to see him instead of being glad. That was just Kitty’s way. He is simply brimming over with fun and mischief, and delights to pretend.

When Peter found him, he was sitting with all his feathers puffed out until he looked almost like a ball with a head and tail. He looked positively sleepy. Then as he caught sight of Peter he drew those feathers down tight, cocked his tail up after the manner of Jenny Wren, and was as slim and trim looking as any bird of Peter’s acquaintance. He didn’t look at all like the same bird of the moment before. Then he dropped his tail as if he hadn’t strength enough to hold it up at all. It hung straight down. He dropped his wings and all in a second made himself look fairly different. And all the time his eyes were twinkling and snapping, and Peter knew that these changes in appearance were made out of pure fun and mischief.

“I’ve been wondering if you were coming back,” Peter called out. “I don’t know of any one of my feathered friends I would miss so much as you.”

“Thank you,” responded Kitty. “It’s very nice of you to say that, Peter.”


Catbird by Louis Agassiz Fuertes


“Did you pass a pleasant winter down South?” asked Peter.

“Fairly so,” replied Kitty. “By the way, Peter, I picked up some new songs down there. Would you like to hear them?”

“Of course,” replied Peter, “although I don’t think you need any new songs. I’ve never seen such a fellow for picking up other people’s songs excepting Mocker the Mockingbird.”

At the mention of Mocker a little cloud crossed Kitty’s face for just an instant. “There’s a fellow I really envy,” said he. “I’m pretty good at imitating others, and yet Mocker is better. I’m hoping that, if I practice enough, some day I can be as good. I saw a lot of him in the South and he certainly is clever.”

“You don’t need to envy him,” said Peter. “You are some imitator yourself. How about those new notes you got when you were in the South?”

Kitty’s face cleared, his throat swelled and he began to sing. It was a regular medley. It didn’t seem as if so many notes could come from one throat. When it ended Peter had a question all ready.

“Are you going to build somewhere near here?” he asked.

“I certainly am,” replied Kitty. “Mrs. Catbird was delayed a day or two. I hope she’ll get here today and then we’ll get busy at once. I think we shall build in these bushes here somewhere. I’m glad Farmer Brown has sense enough to let them grow. They are just the kind of a place I like for a nest. They are near enough to Farmer Brown’s garden, and the Old Orchard is right here.”

“Why do you want to be near Farmer Brown’s garden?” Peter asked.

“Because that is where I will get a good part of my living,” Kitty answered. “He ought to be glad to have me about. Once in awhile I take a little fruit, and then I pay for it ten times over by the number of bugs and worms I get in his garden and the Old Orchard. I pride myself on being useful. There’s nothing like being useful in this world, Peter.”

Peter nodded as if he quite agreed.


P.L.A.Y. in Place Projects


Try these activities to extend your bird story adventures:

  • Visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – ALL ABOUT BIRDS –  Northern Cardinal
  • Visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – ALL ABOUT BIRDS –  Gray Catbird
  • Visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – BIRD ACADEMY – Catbird = An Expert Mimic (video)
  • Nature journal coloring pages at Cornell Common Feeder Birds FREE (page W55 Northern Cardinal).
  • Q/A –Questions with answers to keep this conversation going are available for both Northern (Grosbeak) Cardinal (p. 127) and Catbird (p. 95) in the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock offered FREE online HERE.
  • Another option is to get a copy of Fifty Favorite Birds Coloring Book by Lisa Bonforte and some colored pencils to complete the drawings of a Northern Cardinal (p10) and a Gray Catbird (p11).

  • Also a copy of Audubon’s Birds of America Coloring Book by Paul E. Kennedy with a Cardinal on page 5.

FYI -These coloring books are an excellent companion for this bird story series.


Source: Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton Burgess

P.L.A.Y. has provided a new online version of all 45 chapters of this updated and annotated 100+ year old public domain classic to:

  • be suitable for the 21st century family by having the Thornton Burgess woodland characters evolve to model mindfulness and loving kindness
  • highlight and bring awareness to the New England nature settings and offer an opportunity to learn more about birds and other woodland animals through this story adventure
  • create story extension moments through P.L.A.Y. suggested activities and investigations for making new nature connections generated by the reader’s own curiosity
  • encourage families to keep their own nature notebooks for drawing, writing, painting, and recording their own local daily outdoor P.L.A.Y. adventures.

P.L.A.Y. Time – Pass it on!

Toad BOOK LOOK #4: Story Activities + The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated)

 


 ~ ~ ~ BOOK LOOK ~ ~ ~


The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated):

A P.L.A.Y. Nature Activity Story Book 

by Karen L. Willard

Join Peter Rabbit and friends on adventures discovering all about Old Mr. Toad and his days spent in and out of the water!

See sample story pages + purchase HERE

More Tadpoles + Toads in motion at PINTEREST HERE.


Karen’s P.L.A.Y.ful preview & P.L.A.Y.-filled activity  suggestions for The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated).


P.L.A.Y.ful preview (short):

Nature Noticing: Shiny Egg Strands, Tadpoles, and Toadlets!

P.L.A.Y.filled Potential & Possibilities

P.L.A.Y.-filled companion activity adventure suggestions (long):

  • Challenge: After reading this story take a walk in nature with your family and retell the story of how Old Mr. Toad changes his clothes. Can you spot some places where he might be hiding to do this? Or where he hides for his long winter’s “nap”? Your curious Capkin would like to know!
  • Super Challenge: After reading this story create your own new set of fun adventures for Old Mr. Toad and his friends from the places you have visited outdoors with your family. Adding “silly” to your stories is Super-Duper-Okey-Dokey as long as you base it on what you originally observed! The original author of The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad, Thornton Burgess, combined true nature happenings with a bit of funny as he wrote about his animal characters daily lives.

Share the smiles by emailing your new original silly stories of Old Mr. Toad’s adventures to Karen@passionatelearningallyear.com and perhaps you’ll see them posted on P.L.A.Y. to pass the fun forward (with your permission)!


Capkins LOVE to be read nature stories AND to P.L.A.Y. outdoors.

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These TOAD-ally awesome books are a highly recommended way to extend your P.L.A.Y. adventures.


Plain and simple A Hippy-Hoppy Toad by Peggy Archer & Anne Wilsdorf is a rhyming picture book just made for P.L.A.Y. with laughter built right in!


Naturally Curious Month-By-Month is another must have resource from Mary Holland with even more toads and oodles of other flora & fauna information!


Anna Botsford Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study is an excellent classic resource with content and questions covering all the flora & fauna in New England including: Tadpoles to Toad (p.170-177), Spring Peepers (p.177-180), and Frogs (p.180-187).


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