Spring #18 – Nature Alliteration Adventure


Purchase Here – P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books


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A May treasure quest for you & your curious Capkin

is to search in nature for a . . .

“Nifty Nest Near our Neighborhood”

Bonus Paper-like Pieces of Patchwork 

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My curious Capkin & I found this treasure to match the description.

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What other natural treasures did you find in your P.L.A.Y. today? 🙂


Draw, write, color, and creatively capture your discoveries

on the pages of your Nature Adventure book!

Bird BOOK LOOK – Chapter 8 – Wood Pewee


Missed Chapter 1? Begin HERE



Chapter 8 – Old Clothes and Old Houses


“I can’t stop to talk to you any longer now, Peter Rabbit,” said Jenny Wren. “If you will come over here bright and early tomorrow morning, while I am out to get my breakfast, I will tell you about Cresty the Flycatcher and why he wants the castoff clothes of some of the Snake family. Perhaps I should say what he wants of them instead of why he wants them, for why any one should want anything to do with snakes is more then I can understand.”

With this Jenny Wren disappeared inside her house, and there was nothing more for Peter to do then start for the dear Old Briar-patch. On his way he couldn’t resist the temptation to run over to the Green Forest, which was just beyond the Old Orchard. He just had to find out if there was anything new over there. Hardly had he reached it when he heard a plaintive voice crying, “Pee-wee! Pee-wee! Pee-wee!” Peter chuckled happily. “I declare, there’s Pee-wee,” he cried. “He usually is one of the last of the Flycatcher family to arrive. I didn’t expect to find him yet. I wonder what has brought him up so early.”

It didn’t take Peter long to find Pewee. He just followed the sound of that voice and presently saw Pewee fly out and make the same kind of a little circle as the other members of the family make when they are hunting flies. It ended just where it had started, on a dead twig of a tree in a shady part of the Green Forest. Almost at once he began to call his name in a rather sad, plaintive tone, “Pee-wee! Pee-wee! Pee-wee!” However he wasn’t sad, as Peter well knew. It was his way of expressing how happy he felt. He was a little bigger than his cousin, Chebec, and looked very much like him. There was a little notch in the end of his tail. The upper half of his bill was black and the lower half was light. Peter could see on each wing two whitish bars, and he noticed that Pewee’s wings were longer than his tail, which wasn’t the case with Chebec. However, no one could ever mistake Pewee for any of his relatives, for the simple reason that he keeps repeating his own name over and over.


Green Forest has plenty of trees to make hole homes.


“Are you here early?” asked Peter.

Pewee nodded. “Yes,” said he. “It has been unusually warm this spring, so I hurried a little and came up with my cousins, Scrapper and Cresty. And that is something I don’t often do.”

“If you please,” Peter inquired politely, “why do folks call you Wood Pewee?”

Pewee chuckled happily. “It must be,” he said, “because I am so very fond of the Green Forest. It is so quiet and restful. Mrs. Pewee and I are very retiring. We do not like too many near neighbors.”

“You won’t mind if I come to see you once in a while, will you?” asked Peter as he prepared to start on again for the dear Old Briar-patch.

“Come as often as you like,” replied Pewee. “The oftener the better.”

Back in the Old Briar-patch Peter thought over all he had learned about the Flycatcher family, and as he recalled how they were forever catching all sorts of flying insects it suddenly struck him that they must be very useful little people in helping Old Mother Nature take care of her trees and other growing things which insects so dearly love to destroy.

Most of all Peter thought about that odd request of Cresty’s, and a dozen times that day he found himself peeping under old logs in the hope of finding a castoff coat of Mr. Black Snake. It was such a funny thing for Cresty to ask for that Peter’s curiosity would allow him no peace, and the next morning he was up in the Old Orchard before jolly Mr. Sun had kicked his bedclothes off. Jenny Wren was as good as her word. While she flitted and hopped about this way and that way, getting her breakfast, she talked.

“Did you find any old clothes of the Snake family?” she asked. Then as Peter shook his head her tongue ran on without waiting for him to reply. “Cresty and his wife always insist upon having a piece of Snake skin in their nest,” said she. “Why they want it, goodness knows! However, they do want it and never can seem to settle down to housekeeping unless they have it. Perhaps they think it will scare robbers away.”

“By the way, do you know where Cresty builds?” asked Peter.

“Yes actually, in a hole in a tree” replied Jenny Wren promptly.


Blue sky highlighting a hole-in-a-tree-home.


Peter looked quite as surprised as he felt. “Does Cresty make the hole?” he asked.

“Goodness gracious, no!” exclaimed Jenny Wren. “Flycatchers do not have a bill that can cut wood!” Jenny rattled on, “It is a good thing for a lot of us that the Woodpecker family are so fond of new houses. Look! There is Downy the Woodpecker hard at work on a new house this very minute. That’s good. I like to see that. It means that next year there will be one more house for someone here in the Old Orchard. For myself I prefer old houses. I’ve noticed there are a number of my neighbors who feel the same way about it. There is something settled about an old house. It doesn’t attract attention the way a new one does. So long as it has got reasonably good walls, and the rain and the wind can’t get in, the older it is the better it suits me. And the Woodpeckers seem to like new houses best, which, as I said before, is a very good thing for the rest of us.”

“Who is there besides you and Cresty and Billy the House Sparrow whouse these old Woodpecker houses?” asked Peter.

“Winsome Bluebird” said Jenny Wren.

Peter grinned. “Of course,” said he. “I forgot all about Winsome.”

“And Skimmer the Tree Swallow,” added Jenny.

“That’s so; I ought to have remembered him,” exclaimed Peter. “I’ve noticed that he is very fond of the same house year after year. Is there anybody else?”

Again Jenny Wren nodded. “Yank-Yank the Nuthatch uses an old house, I’m told, although he usually goes up North for his nesting,” said she. “DeeDee the Chickadee sometimes uses an old house. Then again he and Mrs. Chickadee sometimes make a house for themselves. Yellow Wing the Flicker, who really is a Woodpecker, often uses an old house, and quite often makes a new one. Then there are Killee the Sparrow Hawk and Spooky the Screech Owl.”

Peter looked surprised. “I didn’t suppose they nested in holes in trees!” he exclaimed.

“They certainly do,” replied Jenny. “Yes, an old house of Yellow Wing the Flicker suits either of them. Killee always uses one that is high up, and comes back to it year after year. Spooky isn’t particular so long as the house is big enough to be comfortable. He lives in it more or less the year around. Now I must get back to those eggs of mine. I’ve talked quite enough for one morning.”

“Oh, Jenny,” cried Peter, as a sudden thought struck him.

Jenny paused, jerked her tail impatiently, and asked “Well, what is it now?”

“Have you got two homes?” asked Peter.

“Goodness gracious, no!” exclaimed Jenny. “What do you suppose I want of two homes? One is all I can take care of.”

“Then why,” asked Peter, “does Mr. Wren work all day carrying sticks and straws into a hole in another tree? It seems to me that he has carried enough in there to build two or three nests.”

Jenny Wren’s eyes twinkled, and she laughed softly. “Mr. Wren just has to be busy about something, bless his heart,” said she. “He’s building that nest to take up his time and keep out of mischief. Besides, if he fills that hollow up nobody else will take it, and you know we might want to move some time. Goodbye, Peter.” With a final jerk of her tail Jenny Wren flew to the little round doorway of her house and popped inside.


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 –  Eastern Wood Pewee
  • Visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – ALL ABOUT BIRDS –  Bird HOMES + Nesting Materials
  • Another option is to get a copy of Fifty Favorite Birds Coloring Book by Lisa Bonforte and color the Eastern Wood Pewee on page 44 (colored pencils recommended).

    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.


*Start watching out your window to see where the birds are drawn to in your yard or beyond. Next time you head outdoors take a peek in those areas to see if there has been any home building or nesting going on (without disturbing any of the birds!).


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 2 – House Sparrow


Missed Chapter 1? Begin HERE



Chapter 2 – Billy in the Old Orchard


Peter Rabbit’s eyes twinkled when Jenny Wren said that she must look her old house over to see if it was fit to live in.

“Oh, well, I can tell you that your old house is already occupied,” replied Peter. “Billy the House Sparrow has been living in it for the last two months. In fact, he already has a good size family there.”

“What?” exclaimed Jenny and Mr. Wren together. Then without even saying goodbye to Peter, they flew to see it with their own eyes. Presently he heard them chattering as fast as their tongues could go, and this is very fast indeed.

“They will have to find a new house this year,” said Peter. “Billy the House Sparrow and Mrs. Sparrow won’t budge from their new home. My, my, my, just hear that racket! I think I’ll go over and see what is going on.”

So Peter hopped to a place where he could get a good view of Jenny Wren’s old home and still not be too far from the safety of the old stone wall. Jenny’s old home had been in a hole in one of the old apple trees. Looking over to it, Peter could see Mrs. Sparrow sitting in the little round doorway and quite filling it. She was chattering excitedly. Hopping and flitting from twig to twig close by were Jenny and Mr. Wren, their tails pointing almost straight up to the sky, and chattering as fast as they could make their tongues go. Flying at one and then at the other, and almost drowning their voices with his own harsh cries, was Billy himself. All this noise had brought all the other birds in the Old Orchard to see what was going on.

By ruffling up his feathers and raising his wings slightly as he hopped about, Billy managed to make himself appear much bigger than he really was. He was perhaps one fourth larger than Mr. Wren, although he looked half again as big.

His new spring suit was very dirty, due to his fondness for taking dust baths. His back was more or less of an ashy color with black and chestnut stripes. His wings were brown with a white bar on each. His throat and breast were black, and below that he was of a dirty white. The sides of his throat were white and the back of his neck chestnut.


House Sparrow (bottom left) and Chipping Sparrow (top right) by Lous Agassiz Fuertes


Billy the House Sparrow is also a born challenger. He never is happier than when he is in the midst of a challenge or a fuss of some kind. The fact that his neighbors disagreed with him today didn’t bother Billy in the least.

“Hey -that’s my house, and the sooner you get out of it the better!” yelled Jenny Wren, jerking her tail with every word as she hopped about just out of reach of Billy.

“It may have been your house once and it is mine now!” said Billy. “You didn’t make this house and you deserted it when you went south last fall. It is our turn now.”

Peter Rabbit nodded. “He’s right there,” muttered Peter. “It is true that he has a perfect right to that house. If folks leave things for half a year and fly south they can’t expect to find them just as they left them if or when they come back. My, my, my what a racket you are all making!”

Meanwhile, Mrs. Sparrow sat in the little round doorway. She knew that as long as she sat there it would be impossible for either Jenny or Mr. Wren to get in.

All the time Billy was darting back and forth in agitation. “Mrs. Sparrow and I are in the Old Orchard to stay!” declared Billy. The rest of the birds just watched and talked amongst themselves as Mr. Wren and Jenny Wren sat in frustration discussing the situation.


An apple tree in the Old Orchard beginning to blossom.


How long that squabble in the Old Orchard would have lasted had it not been for something which happened, no one knows. Right in the midst of it someone discovered Black Shadow, the cat who lives in Farmer Brown’s house, stealing up through the Old Orchard, her tail twitching and her yellow eyes glaring eagerly. She had heard that dreadful racket and suspected that in the midst of such excitement she might have a chance to catch one of the feathered folks. You can always trust Black Shadow to be on hand at a time like that.


Black Shadow the cat watching the birds in the Old Orchard.


No sooner was she discovered than everything else was forgotten. With Billy in the lead, and Jenny and Mr. Wren close behind him, all the birds turned their attention to Black Shadow. She was the predator of all, and they straight away forgot their own quarrel. Only Mrs. Sparrow remained where she was, in the little round doorway of her house. She intended to take no chances, and simply added her voice to the general racket. How those birds did shriek and scream! They darted down almost into the face of Black Shadow, and none went nearer than Billy the English Sparrow and Jenny Wren.

Now Black Shadow does not like to be the center of so much attention. She knew that, now that she had been discovered, there wasn’t a chance in the world for her to catch one of those feathered folks in the Old Orchard. So, with tail still twitching angrily, she turned and, with such dignity as she could, left the Old Orchard. Clear to the edge of the orchard the birds followed, shrieking and screaming after her.

When finally she disappeared towards Farmer Brown’s barn, those angry voices changed. It was such a funny change that Peter Rabbit laughed right out. Instead of anger there was triumph in every note as everybody returned to attend to their own affairs. Jenny and Mr. Wren seemed to have forgotten all about Billy and his wife in their old house.

They flew to another part of the Old Orchard to talk it all over and rest and get their breath. Peter Rabbit waited to see if they would come over near enough to him to chat a bit more. They didn’t and finally Peter started for his home in the dear Old Briar-patch to settle in the shade for a bit of rest.


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 – HOUSE SPARROW (aka English Sparrow)
  • House Sparrow nature journal coloring page at Cornell Common Feeder Birds FREE (*page W75).
  • Q/A –Questions with answers to keep this conversation going are available for both House Sparrow (p. 83-86) in the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock offered FREE online HERE.
  • Imagine . . . what if . . .  you arrived home from your trip “down south” just like Jenny and Mr. Wren and you found other folks who had moved into the home that you had left empty for 6 months. What would you do? Write about it in your P.L.A.Y. nature journal. Ask your friends and family the same “What if” question and hear their response. Think about how humans and animals handle this differently, or do they?
  • Another option is to get a copy of Fifty Favorite Birds Coloring Book by Lisa Bonforte and color the House Sparrow on page 23 (colored pencils recommended).

    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!