Animal BOOK LOOK – Chapter 3 – Rabbits and Hares


Chapter 3

More about Rabbits and Hares


At sun-up the next morning Peter Rabbit and Jumper the Hare were on hand promptly for their next lesson. Mother Nature smiled as she saw the eager curiosity shining in their eyes. She didn’t wait for them to ask questions. “Yesterday,” said she, “I told you about your water-loving cousin, the Marsh Rabbit. You have another relative down there in the Sunny South who is almost as fond of the water. Some folks call him the Swamp Rabbit. Others call him the Swamp Hare. The latter is really the best name for him, because he is a true Hare. He lives in swamps instead of marshes, but he is a splendid swimmer and fond of the water. When he is chased by an enemy he makes for the nearest point or stream.”

“How big is he?” asked Jumper.

“Just about your size, Jumper, and perhaps a little bit heavier” replied Mother Nature. Because his hair lies much smoother than yours, you probably would look a little bit bigger if you were sitting beside him. As with his cousin, the Marsh Rabbit, the hair on his feet is thin. His toes are rather long and he can spread them widely, which is a great help in swimming. He doesn’t have to take to the water as his little cousin does, for he is a very good runner. However, he does take to it as the easiest way of getting rid of those who are chasing him. The Marsh Rabbit and the Swamp Hare are the only members of your family in all the Great World who are fond of the water and who are at home in it. Now, who shall I tell you about next?”

“Our biggest cousins,” cried Peter and Jumper together. “The ones you told us yesterday are bigger than Jumper,” added Peter. “It is hard to believe that there can be any much bigger than he.”

Mother Nature’s eyes twinkled. “It is often hard to believe things you can not see,” she said. “Compared with these other relatives, Jumper really isn’t big at all. He seems big to you, Peter, however if he should meet his cousin, Snow White the Arctic Hare, who lives way up in the Frozen North, I am quite sure Jumper would feel small. Snow White looks very much like Jumper in his winter coat, for he is all white save the tips of his ears, which are black.”

“Does he wear a white coat all year round?” asked Peter eagerly.

Arctic Hares illustrated by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

“When he lives so far north that there is snow and ice for most of the year, he does,” replied Mother Nature. “And when he lives far enough south for the snow to disappear for a little while in the summer, he changes his white coat for one of gray.”

“How can he live so far north that the snow and ice seldom melt?” asked Peter, looking very much puzzled. “What can he find to eat?”

“Even way up there there is moss growing under the snow. And in the short summer other plants grow. During the long winter Snow White digs down through the snow to get these. He also eats the bark and twigs of little stunted trees. And yet as big as he is, you have a cousin who is still bigger, the biggest of all the family.”

“Who is he?” Jumper and Peter cried together.

“He is called White-tailed Jack,” replied Mother Nature. “And he lives chiefly on the great plains of the Northwest, though sometimes he is found in the mountains and forests. He is sometimes called the Prairie Hare. In winter his coat is white and in the summer it is a light brown. Summer or winter his tail is white, much like you Peter. It is because of this that he is called White-tailed Jack.”

“Is his tail as short as mine?” asked Peter eagerly.

Peter Rabbit and his very short tail- illustrated by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

Mother Nature laughed right out. “No, Peter,” she replied. “It wouldn’t be called a long tail by any other animal, however for a member of your family it really is long, and when White-tailed Jack is running he switches it from side to side. His hind legs are very long and powerful, and he can make a single jump of twenty feet without half trying. Not even Old Man Coyote can catch him in a straightaway race. You may think Jumper’s ears are long, Peter, and yet they are short in comparison to the ears of White-tailed Jack. Not only are his ears long they are also very big. When he squats in his form and lays his ears back they reach way over his shoulders. Like the other members of the Hare family he doesn’t use holes in the ground or hollow logs. He trusts to his long legs and to his wonderful speed to escape from his predators. Among them are Howler the Wolf, Old Man Coyote, Eagles, Hawks and Owls. He is so big that he would make five or six of you, Peter.”

Peter drew a long breath. “It is dreadfully hard to believe that I can have a cousin as big as that,” he exclaimed. “Have I any other cousins anywhere near as big?”

Mother Nature nodded. “There are some others very like White-tailed Jack, only not quite as big,” she said. “They have long hind legs, and great ears, although their coats are different, and they live on the great plains farther south. Some of them live so far south that it is warm all the year round. One of these is Antelope Jack, whose home is in the Southwest.”

“Oh please tell us about him,” begged Peter.

“To begin with,” replied Mother Nature, “he is a member of the big Jack Rabbit or Jack Hare branch of your family. None of this branch should be called a Rabbit. All the members are first cousins to Jumper and are true Hares. All have big ears, long, rather thin necks, and long legs. Even their front legs are comparatively long. Antelope Jack is probably next in size to White-tailed Jack. Strange to say, although he lives where it is warm for most of the year, his coat is very largely white. His back is a yellowish-brown and so is his throat. His sides are white. The surprising thing about him is that he has the power of making himself seem almost all white. He can make the white hair spread out at will by means of some special little muscles which I have given him, so that the white of his sides at times almost seems to meet on his back. When he does this in the sun it makes flashes of white which can be seen a long way. By means of this Antelope Jack and his friends can keep track of each other when they are a long distance apart. There is only one other animal who can flash signals in this way, and that is the Antelope of whom I will tell you some other time. It is because Jack flashes signals in this way that he is called Antelope Jack. In his habits he is otherwise much like the other members of his family. He trusts to his long legs and his wonderful powers of jumping to keep him out of danger. He is not as well known as his commoner cousin, plain Jack Rabbit. Everybody knows Jack Rabbit.”

Jack Rabbit illustrated by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

Peter shook his head. “I don’t,” said he very meekly.

“Then it is time you did,” replied Mother Nature. “If you had ever been in the Far West you would know him. Everybody out there knows him. He isn’t quite as big as Antelope Jack although he is still a big fellow. He wears a brownish coat much like Jumper’s, and the tips of his long ears are black. His tail is longer than Jumper’s, and when he runs he carries it down.”

“I don’t carry mine down,” Peter piped up.

Mother Nature laughed right out. “True enough, Peter, true enough,” she said. “You couldn’t if you wanted to. It isn’t long enough to carry any way other than up. Jack has more of a tail than you have, just as he has longer legs. My, how he can run! He goes with great bounds and about every tenth bound he jumps very high. This is so that he can get a good look around to watch out for predators.”

“Who are his natural predators?” asked Peter.

“Foxes, Coyotes, Hawks, Eagles, Owls, and Weasels,” replied Mother Nature. “In fact, he has about as many predators as you have.”

“I know I ought to keep away from that garden,” said Peter very meekly, “but you have no idea what a temptation it is. The things in that garden do taste so good.”

Now I guess you have learned sufficient about your long-legged cousins. I’ve a great deal to do, so skip along home, both of you,” said Mother Nature.

“If you please, Mother Nature, may we come again tomorrow?” asked Peter.

“And whatever for?” inquired Mother Nature. “Haven’t you learned enough about your family?”

“Yes,” replied Peter, “however there are lots and lots of things I would like to know about other animals. If you please, I would like to come to you every day. You see, the more I learn about my neighbors, the better able I will be to take care of myself and understand them as well.”

“All right, Mr. Curiosity,” replied Mother Nature good-naturedly, “come again tomorrow morning as I’m happy to share what I know.”

So Peter and Jumper politely bade her goodbye and started for their homes. Lipperty-lipperity-lip!

This Curious Capkin has created more P.L.A.Y. Ponderings just for you!

Following the prompts below draw, doodle, write, ponder, paint, color, and creatively capture your thoughts in your P.L.A.Y. Adventures nature journal!

  1. What do you think of rabbits swimming (Chapter 2) and rabbits playing in the snow? What do you see in your minds-eye when you try to picture them in the water or in the fluffy white crystals? Was this news to you and hard to picture?
  2. *Chapters 1-3 talk about various rabbits and the size of their ears. Of what use are large ears? How are the ears held when the rabbit is resting? running? Or when the rabbit is startled vs. checking for danger? Can you mime or act this out with your hands or draw it on a page?
  3. * Describe the eyes of a rabbit. Where are they positioned? Do you think a rabbit sleeps with their eyes open or closed? Does a rabbit wink?
  4. * What do most rabbits eat? What are they drawn to eat in warm summer like conditions vs. cold winter conditions?

For a review of this book and more beaver resources visit: HERE

If you find the work and vision of P.L.A.Y. supports you and your family on the life learning path, please pass it forward to friends and neighbors as a Simple Gift that keeps on giving.


❤ ❤ ❤ Thank You! ❤ ❤ ❤


Animal BOOK LOOK – Chapter 2 – Peter Rabbit and Jumper the Hare


Chapter 2

Peter Rabbit and Jumper the Hare


Hardly had jolly, round, red Mr. Sun thrown off his rosy blankets and begun his daily climb up in the blue, blue sky when Peter Rabbit and his cousin, Jumper the Hare, arrived at the place in the Green Forest where Peter had found Mother Nature the day before. She was waiting for them, ready to answer questions.

“I am so glad you are here,” she said. “Now before either of you ask any questions, I am going to ask some myself. Peter, what do you look like? Where do you live? What do you eat? I want to find out just how much you really know about yourself.”

Peter scratched one ear with a long hind foot and hesitated as if he didn’t know just how to begin. Mother Nature waited patiently. Finally Peter began rather timidly.

“Well,” he said, “the only way I know how I look is by the way the other members of my family look, for I’ve never seen myself. I suppose in a way I look like all the rest of the Rabbit family. I have long hind legs and short front ones. I suppose this is so I can make long jumps when I am in a hurry.”

Peter Rabbit – original art by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

Mother Nature nodded, and Peter, taking this encouragement, continued. “My hind legs are stout and strong, and my front ones are lesser so. I guess this is because I do not have a great deal of use for them, except for running. My coat is a sort of mixture of brown and gray, more brown in summer and more gray in winter. My ears are longer for my size than are those of most animals, and really not very long after all, or not nearly as long for my size as my cousin Jumper’s are for his size. My tail is fluffy and short. It is so short that I carry it straight up. It is white like a little bunch of cotton, and I suppose that that is why I am called a Cottontail Rabbit, though I have heard that some folks call me a Gray Rabbit and others a Bush Rabbit.”

“I live in the dear Old Briar-patch and just love it. It is a mass of bushes and bramble-tangles and is the safest place I know of. I have cut little paths all through it just big enough for Mrs. Peter and myself. None of our predators can get at us there, excepting Shadow the Weasel or Billy Mink. I have a sort of nest there where I spend my time when I am not running about. It is called a form and I sit in it a great deal.”

Peter Rabbit’s home in the bramble-tangles in the meadow as seen in the snowy winter.

“In summer I eat clover, grass and other green things, and I just love to get over into Farmer Brown’s garden. In winter I have to take what I can get, and this is mostly bark from young trees, buds and tender twigs of bushes, and any green plants I can find under the snow. I can run fast for a short distance, however only for a short distance. That is why I like thick brush and bramble-tangles. There I can dodge. I don’t know any one who can dodge better! If Reddy Fox or Bowser the Hound surprises me away from the dear Old Briar-patch I run for the nearest hollow log or hole in the ground. Sometimes in summer I dig a hole for myself, although not often. It is much easier to use a hole somebody else has dug. When I want to signal my friends I thump the ground with my hind feet. Jumper does the same thing. And I almost forgot to say I don’t like water.”

Mother Nature smiled. “You are thinking of that cousin of yours, the Marsh Rabbit who lives way down in the Sunny South,” she said.

Peter admitted that he was. Jumper the Hare was interested all at once. You see, he had never heard of this cousin.

“That was a very good account of yourself, Peter,” said Mother Nature. “Now take a look at your cousin, Jumper the Hare, and tell me how he differs from you.”

Jumper the Hare, also known as the Northern or Varying Hare, in both his winter (right) and summer (left) coat. Illustration by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

Peter took a long look at Jumper, and then, as before, scratched one ear with a long hind foot. “In the first place,” he said, “Jumper is considerably bigger than I. He has very long hind legs and his ears are very long. In summer he wears a brown coat and in the winter he is all white except for just the tips of his ears which are black. Because his coat changes so, he is called the varying Hare. He likes the Green Forest where the trees grow close together, especially those places where there are a great many young trees. He’s the biggest member of our family. I guess that’s all I know about Cousin Jumper.”

“That is very good, Peter, as far as it goes,” said Mother Nature. “I just have one correction to make. Jumper is not the biggest of his family.”

Both Peter and Jumper opened their eyes very wide with surprise. “Also,” continued Mother Nature, “you forgot to mention the fact that Jumper never hides in hollow logs and holes in the ground as you do. Can you explain why you don’t Jumper?”

“I wouldn’t feel safe there,” replied Jumper. “I depend on my long legs for safety, and the way I can dodge around trees and bushes. I suppose Reddy Fox may be fast enough to catch me in the open, and yet he can’t do it where I can dodge around trees and bushes. That is why I stick to the Green Forest. If you please, Mother Nature, what is this about a cousin who likes to swim?”

Mother Nature’s eyes twinkled. “We’ll get to that later on,” she said. “Now, each of you hold up a hind foot and tell me what difference you see.”

Peter and Jumper each held up a hind foot and each looked first at his own and then at the other’s. “They look to me very much alike, only Jumper’s is a lot longer and bigger than mine,” said Peter. Jumper nodded as if he agreed.

“Look a bit closer,” encouraged Mother Nature. “Do you see that Jumper’s foot is a great deal broader than yours, Peter, and that his toes are spread apart, while yours are close together?”

Peter and Jumper were surprised, for it was just as Mother Nature had said. Jumper’s foot really was quite different from that of Peter. Peter’s was narrow and slim.

“That is a very important difference,” Mother Nature noted. “Can you guess why I gave you those big feet, Jumper?”

Jumper slowly shook his head. “Not unless it was to simply make me different,” he said.

“Well,” said Mother Nature, “What happens to those big feet of yours in the winter, Jumper?”

“Nothing that I know of, excepting that the hair grows out long between my toes,” Jumper replied.

“Exactly,” agreed Mother Nature. “And when the hair does this you can travel over light snow without sinking in. It is just as if you had snowshoes. That is why you are often called a Snowshoe Rabbit. I gave you those big feet and make the hair grow out every winter because I know that you depend on your legs to get away from your predators. You can run over the deep snow where your predators break through. Peter, though he is small and lighter than you are, cannot go where you can. Although Peter doesn’t need to depend always on his legs to save his life. There is one thing more that I want you both to notice, and that is that you both have quite a lot of short hairs on the soles of you feet. That is where you differ from that cousin of yours down in the Sunny South. He has only a very few hairs on his feet. That is so he can swim better.”

“If you please, Mother Nature, why is that cousin of ours so fond of the water?” piped up Peter.

Marsh Rabbit (or Marsh Hare) that lives down south and likes to swim.
Illustration by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

“Because,” replied Mother Nature, “he lives in marshy country where there is a great deal of water. He is very nearly the same size as you, Peter, and looks very much like you. But his legs are not quite so long, his ears are a little smaller, and his tail is brownish instead of white. He is a poor runner and so in time of danger he takes to the water. For that matter, he goes swimming for pleasure. The water is warm down there, and he dearly loves to paddle about in it. If a Fox chases him he simply plunges into the water and hides among the water plants with only his eyes and his nose out of water.”

“Does he make his home in the water like Jerry Muskrat?” asked Peter innocently.

Mother Nature smiled and shook her head. “Certainly not,” she replied. “His home is on the ground. His babies are born in a nest made just as Mrs. Peter Rabbit makes her nest for your babies, and Mrs. Jumper Hare makes a nest for Jumper’s babies. It is made of grass and lined with soft fur which Mrs. Rabbit pulls from her own breast, and it is very carefully hidden. By the way, Peter how do your babies differ from the babies of your Cousin Jumper?”

Peter shook his head. “I don’t know,” he said. “I do know my babies don’t have their eyes open when they are born and they haven’t any hair.”

Jumper pricked up his long ears and said “Truly? Why, my babies have their eyes open and have the dearest little fur coats!”

Mother Nature chuckled. “That is the difference,” she said. “I guess both of you have learned something.”

“You said a little while ago that Jumper isn’t the biggest of our family,” said Peter. “If you please, who is?”

“There are several bigger than Jumper,” replied Mother Nature, and smiled as she saw the funny look of surprise on the faces of Peter and Jumper. “There is one way up in the Frozen North and there are two cousins way out in the Great West. They are as much bigger than Jumper as Jumper is bigger than you, Peter. I haven’t time to tell you about them right now. However, if you really want to learn about them please be here promptly at sun-up tomorrow morning. Well Hello! Here comes Reddy Fox, and he looks to me as if he is searching for a good breakfast . Let me see what you have learned about taking care of yourselves.”

Peter and Jumper gave one startled look in the direction Mother Nature was pointing. Sure enough, there was Reddy Fox. Not far away was a hollow log. Peter wasted no time in getting to it. In fact, he left in such a hurry that he forgot to say goodbye to Mother Nature. She didn’t mind, for she quite understood Peter’s urgency, and she laughed when she saw his funny little white tail disappear inside the hollow log. As for Jumper, he promptly took to his long legs and disappeared with great bounds and Reddy Fox racing right after him.

This Curious Capkin has created more P.L.A.Y. Ponderings just for you!

Following the prompts below draw, doodle, write, ponder, paint, color, and creatively capture your thoughts in your P.L.A.Y. Adventures nature journal!

  1. Is there a “mirror” in the field or forest that Peter Rabbit could use to see how he looks? What might this be?
  2. Draw two very large circles that overlap and fill up your page. Where the two circles overlap in the middle write the things both Peter Rabbit and Jumper the Hare have in common. Then separately in each remaining half of each circle write the special traits they each have that the other one does not. Note: The two overlapping circles template is called a Venn Diagram and is used to compare and contrast two things.
  3. What is the purpose of Peter Rabbit’s long legs and short tail?
  4. What specific location does Peter Rabbit like to call home in or near the Green Meadows and on the edge of the Green Forest? Why is this his favorite spot? Have you ever ventured in to one and been snagged in it?
  5. Does Jumper the Hare prefer the meadow or the forest? Why?
  6. How do their feet differ? What are there uses?
  7. *Have you observed a rabbit? How does the nose move in relation to the mouth? Focus on the upper lip, what purpose does it serve? How does the rabbit eat in the summer vs. the winter and how would this special upper lip help? What are the teeth used for specifically? What are the whiskers for?

For a review of this book and more beaver resources visit: HERE

If you find the work and vision of P.L.A.Y. supports you and your family on the life learning path, please pass it forward to friends and neighbors as a Simple Gift that keeps on giving.


❤ ❤ ❤ Thank You! ❤ ❤ ❤


Animal BOOK LOOK – Chapter 1 – Mother Nature Knows Best


Chapter 1

Mother Nature Knows Best


“As sure as the sun will rise, Peter Rabbit, some day I will catch you,” snarled Reddy Fox, as he poked his black nose in the hole between the roots of the Big Hickory tree which grows close to the Smiling Pool. “It is lucky for you that you were not one jump farther away from this hole.”

Peter, safe inside that hole, didn’t have a word to say, or, if he did, he didn’t have breath enough to say it. It was quite true that if he had been one jump farther from that hole, Reddy Fox would have caught him. As it was, the hairs on Peter’s funny white tail actually had tickled Reddy’s back as Peter plunged frantically through the root-bound entrance to that hole. It had been the narrowest escape Peter had had for a long, long time. You see, Reddy Fox had surprised Peter nibbling sweet clover on the bank of the Smiling Pond, and it had been a lucky thing for Peter that that hole, dug long ago by Johnny Chuck’s grandfather, had
been right where it was. Also, it was a lucky thing that old Mr. Chuck had been wise enough to make the entrance between the roots of that tree in such a way that it could not be dug any larger.

Sweet Clover nibbled by Peter Rabbit

Reddy Fox was too shrewd to waste any time trying to dig it larger. He knew there wasn’t room enough for him to get between those roots. So, Reddy trotted off across the Green Meadows. Peter remained where he was for a long time. When he was quite sure that it was safe to do so, he crept out and hurried, lipperty-lipperty-lip, up to the Old Orchard. He felt that that would be the safest place for him, because there were ever so many hiding places in the old stone wall.

When Peter reached the Old Orchard he was pleasantly surprised to see his friend Jenny Wren. Jenny had arrived that very morning from the Sunny South where she had spent the entire winter. “Tut, tut, tut!” exclaimed Jenny as soon as she saw Peter. “If it isn’t Peter Rabbit himself! How did you manage to keep out of the clutches of Reddy Fox all the long winter?”

Peter chuckled. “I didn’t have much trouble with Reddy during the winter,” he said , “however, this very morning he nearly caught me and it is a wonder that my hair is not snow white from fright.” Then he told Jenny all about his narrow escape. “Had it not been for that handy hole of Grandfather Chuck, I couldn’t possibly have escaped,” Peter concluded.

An apple tree in the Old Orchard beginning to blossom.

Jenny Wren cocked her little head to one side and her sharp little eyes snapped. “By the way Peter, why don’t you learn to swim like your cousin down in the Sunny South?” she asked. “If he had been in your place, he would have simply plunged into the Smiling Pool and swam away from Reddy Fox.”

Peter sat bolt upright with his eyes very wide open. In them was a funny look of surprise as he stared up at Jenny Wren. “What are you talking about, Jenny Wren?” he asked. “Don’t you know that none of the Rabbit family swim unless it is to cross the Laughing Brook when there is no other way of getting to the other side, or when actually driven into the water by an enemy from whom there is no other escape? I can swim a little if I have to, although you won’t catch me in the water if I can stay on land. What is more, you won’t find any other members of my family doing such a thing either.”

“Tut, tut, tut, Peter!” exclaimed Jenny Wren. “I wonder how much you really know about your own family. How many relatives do you have Peter?”

“One,” replied Peter promptly, “my big cousin, Jumper the Hare.”

“Oh my, well I have to say,” said Jenny Wren, “while I’m way down in the Sunny South where I spend the winters, I’ve met a cousin of yours who is more closely related to you than Jumper the Hare. And what is more, he is almost as fond of the water as Jerry Muskrat. He is called the Marsh Rabbit or Marsh Hare, and many a time I have watched him swimming about by the hour.”

Peter Rabbit talking with Jenny Wren at the Stone Wall in the Old Orchard. Illustration by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

“Truly, it is hard to believe that there is a hare fond of water!” declared Peter. “I belong to the Cottontail branch of the Hare family, and it is a fine family if I do say so. My cousin Jumper is a true Hare, and the only difference between us is that he is bigger, has longer legs and ears, changes the color of his coat in winter, and seldom, if ever, goes into holes in the ground. So the idea of you trying to tell me I have more relatives that I don’t even know is surprising to say the least.”

Jenny Wren suddenly became serious. “Peter,” she said very earnestly, “take my advice and go see Mother Nature and learn what you can from her. What I have told you is true, every word of it. You have a cousin down in the Sunny South who spends half his time in the water. What is more, I suspect that you and Jumper have other relatives of whom you’ve never heard. Truly, go see Mother Nature as she is so wise and always knows best.” With this, Jenny Wren flew away to find Mr. Wren so that they might decide where to make their home for the summer.

Peter wondered. Could it be possible that Jenny Wren was right? Could it be that he really didn’t know what relatives he had or anything about them? Of course Mother Nature could tell him all he wanted to know. And he knew that whatever she might tell him would be true.

Finally with curiosity Peter started for the Green Forest to look for Mother Nature. It didn’t take long to find her. She was very busy, for there is no time in all the year when Mother Nature has quite so much to do as in the spring.

Peter finds Mother Nature in the Green Forest

“If you please, Mother Nature,” said Peter in a very polite voice, “I’ve some questions I want to ask you.”

Mother Nature’s eyes twinkled in a kindly way. “All right, Peter,” she replied. “I guess I can talk and work at the same time. What is it you want to know?”

“I want to know if it is true that there are any other members of the Rabbit and the Hare family besides my big cousin, Jumper, who lives here in the Green Forest, and myself.”

Mother Nature’s eyes twinkled more than ever. “Why, of course, Peter,” she replied. “There are several other members. I suppose you don’t know this because you have never have traveled beyond the Green Forest.”

Peter looked very humble. “Is it true that way down in the Sunny South I have a cousin who loves to spend his time in the water?” Peter asked.

“It certainly is,” replied Mother Nature. “He is called the Marsh Rabbit, and he is more nearly your size, and looks more like you, than any of your other cousins.”

Peter gulped as if he were swallowing something that went down hard. “That is what Jenny Wren said, however I found it hard to believe her,” replied Peter. “She said she had often watched him swimming about like Jerry Muskrat.”

Mother Nature nodded. “Quite true,” she said. “He is quite as much at home in the water as on land, if anything a little more so. He is one member the family who takes to the water, and he certainly does love it. Is there anything else you want to know, Peter?”

Peter shifted about uneasily and hesitated. “What is it, Peter?” asked Mother Nature kindly. “There is nothing in this Great World better than asking a question. Ask any question you like.”

Peter took heart. “If you please, Mother Nature, I would like to learn all about my family. May I come to see you every day to learn more?”

Mother Nature smiled. “Certainly you may come to learn with me, Mr. Curiosity,” she said. “It is a good idea; a very good idea. I’m very busy, as you can see, however I’m never too busy to share with those who really want to learn. We’ll have a session here every morning just at sun-up. I can’t do any more today as it is getting late. Run along home to the dear Old Briar-patch and think up some questions to ask me tomorrow morning. And, by the way, Peter, I will ask YOU some questions too. For one thing I shall ask YOU to tell me all you know about your own family. Now scamper along and I’ll see you tomorrow morning right here at sun-up.”

“Mother Nature, may I bring my cousin, Jumper the Hare, if he wants to come along?” asked Peter.

“Yes, bring him and anyone else who wants to learn,” replied Mother Nature kindly.

Peter bade her goodbye in his most polite manner and then scampered as fast as he could go, lipperty-lipperty-lip, to the dear Old Briar-patch. There he spent the remainder of the day thinking up questions and also trying to find out how much he really did know about his own family.

This Curious Capkin has created more P.L.A.Y. Ponderings just for you!

Following the prompts below draw, doodle, write, ponder, paint, color, and creatively capture your thoughts in your P.L.A.Y. Adventures nature journal!

  1. Do you have cotton-tail rabbits where you live? How do you know?
  2. What signs have you seen to inform you that rabbits live in your yard, neighborhood, or nearby field and forest area?
  3. Do you think Peter Rabbit’s cousin, Jumper the Hare, lives nearby you too? Why or why not?
  4. *Have you discovered rabbit tracks in the snow? Which direction was the rabbit going? Lipperty-lipperty-lip! Were the tracks made at night or during the day? How are the feet of a rabbit protected so they do not freeze in the snow?

For a review of this book and more beaver resources visit: HERE

Colorful Curious Capkins Contemplating Cotton-tail tracks!

If you find the work and vision of P.L.A.Y. supports you and your family on the life learning path, please pass it forward to friends and neighbors as a Simple Gift that keeps on giving.


❤ ❤ ❤ Thank You! ❤ ❤ ❤


Deer BOOK LOOK -Chapter 2- The Adventures of Lightfoot the Deer

Original 1921 story written by Thornton Burgess now revised for the 21st century family.

– Chapter 2 –

Lightfoot the Deer’s New Antlers


Peter Rabbit was puzzled and curious again. He stared at Lightfoot the Deer a wee bit suspiciously. “Have you been tearing somebody’s coat?” he asked.

He didn’t like to think this of Lightfoot, whom he always had believed was quite gentle, harmless, and as timid as himself. However, what else could he think as he looked upon those rags hanging from his antlers?

Lightfoot slowly shook his head. “No,” he said, “I haven’t torn anybody’s coat.”

“Then what are those rags hanging on your antlers?” inquired Peter.

Lightfoot chuckled. “They are what is left of the coverings of my new antlers,” he explained.

“What’s that? What do you mean by new antlers?” Peter was sitting up very straight, with his eyes fixed on Lightfoot’s antlers as though he never had seen them before.

“Just what I said,” repeated Lightfoot. “What do you think of them? I think they are the finest antlers I’ve ever had. When I get the rest of those rags off, they will be as handsome a set as ever was grown in the Green Forest.”

Lightfoot rubbed his antlers against the trunk of a tree until some of the rags hanging on them dropped off.

Peter blinked very hard. He was trying to understand the meaning of this and he couldn’t. Finally he said so.

“I do not understand. Do you mean to tell me that those are not the antlers that you have had as long as I’ve known you? How can anything hard like those antlers grow? This sounds impossible! And if those are new ones, where are the old ones? The idea of trying to make me believe that antlers grow just like plants! I’ve seen Bossy the Cow all summer and I know she has got the same horns she had last summer. New antlers indeed!”

“You are quite right, Peter, quite right about Bossy the Cow. She never has new horns, and yet that isn’t any reason why I shouldn’t have new antlers, is it?” replied Lightfoot patiently. “Her horns are quite different from my antlers. I have a new pair every year. You haven’t seen me all summer, have you, Peter?”

“No, I don’t remember that I have,” replied Peter, trying very hard to remember when he had last seen Lightfoot.

“I know you haven’t,” said Lightfoot. “I know it because I have been hiding in a place you never visit.”

“What have you been hiding for?” Peter asked with great curiosity.

“For my new antlers to grow,” replied Lightfoot. “When my new antlers are growing, I want to be away by myself. I don’t like to be seen without them or with half grown ones. Besides, I am very uncomfortable while the new antlers are growing and I want to be alone.”

Lightfoot spoke as if he really meant every word he said, and still Peter couldn’t believe that those wonderful great antlers had grown out of Lightfoot’s head in a single summer. “Where did you leave your old ones and when did they come off?” he asked.

“They dropped off last spring and I don’t remember just where,” replied Lightfoot. “I was too glad to be rid of them to notice where they dropped. You see they were loose and uncomfortable, and I hadn’t any more use for them because I knew that my new ones would be bigger and better. I’ve got one more point on each than I had last year.” Lightfoot began once more to rub his antlers against the tree to get off the odd rags hanging to them and to polish the points. Peter watched in silence for a few minutes. Then, with his curiosity returning, he said: “You still haven’t told me everything about those rags hanging on your antlers.”


One of Lightfoot’s antlers found left behind in the Green Forest.

It is hard to believe what seems impossible. And yet what seems impossible to you may be a very commonplace matter to some one else. Peter Rabbit wanted to believe what Lightfoot the Deer had just told him, and yet somehow he found it confusing. If he had seen those antlers growing, it would have been another matter. However, he had only seen Lightfoot in the winter, and then Lightfoot had worn just such handsome antlers as he now had. So Peter really couldn’t be blamed for not being able to believe that those old ones had been lost and in their place new ones had grown in just the few months of spring and summer.

“I’m trying to believe you,” Peter said, quite humbly.

“It’s all true,” broke in another voice.

Peter jumped and turned to find his big cousin, Jumper the Hare. Unseen and unheard, he had come up behind them and had overheard what Peter and Lightfoot had said.

“How do you know it is true?” Peter asked for confirmation.

“Because I saw Lightfoot’s old antlers after they had fallen off, and I often saw Lightfoot while his new ones were growing,” Jumper replied.

“All right! I’ll believe anything that Lightfoot tells me if you say it is true,” declared Peter, who greatly admires his cousin, Jumper. “Now Lightfoot, please tell me about those rags.”

Lightfoot couldn’t resist the “please.”

“Those rags are what is left of a kind of covering which protected the antlers while they were growing” he said. “Very soon after my old ones dropped off the new ones began to grow. They were not hard, not at all like they are now. They were soft and very tender, and the blood ran through them just as it does through our bodies. They were covered with a sort of skin with hairs on it like thin fur. The ends were not sharply pointed as they are now, rather they were big and rounded, like knobs. They were not like antlers at all, and they made my head hot and were very uncomfortable. That is why I hid away. They grew very fast, so fast that every day I could see by looking at my reflection in water that they were a little longer. It seemed to me sometimes as if all my strength went into those new antlers. And I had to be very careful not to hit them against anything. In the first place it would have hurt, and in the second place it might have spoiled the shape of them.

“When they had grown to the length you now see, they began to shrink and grow hard. The knobs on the ends shrank until they became pointed. As soon as they stopped growing the blood stopped flowing up in them, and as they became hard they were no longer tender. The skin which had covered them grew dry and split, and I rubbed it off on trees and bushes. The little rags you see are what is left, and I will soon be rid of those too. Then I shall be ready to defend myself if need be.”

Lightfoot tossed his head proudly and rattled his wonderful antlers against the nearest tree. “Isn’t he a sight to see,” whispered Peter to Jumper the Hare; “and did you ever hear of anything so wonderful as the growing of those new antlers in such a short time? Amazing.”

“It is,” replied Jumper, “and I tell you, Peter, I wouldn’t want to have Lightfoot try those antlers on me, beautiful as they are.”


This is the Green Forest where Lightfoot hides in the Spring & Summer and rubs his antlers on tree trunks to remove the ‘rag’ skin covering.

This Curious Capkin has created more P.L.A.Y. Adventures just for you!

Capture your thoughts in your P.L.A.Y. Adventures nature journal!

  1. What is the difference between antlers and horns?
  2. Who has horns? Who has antlers?
  3. Have you seen deer near your home? Where are they often seen? What time of day is it?
  4. Have you seen a buck with antlers? How many points?
  5. What other signs could you look for to know a deer was nearby? Hint: What is scat?
  6. Try using a book like Scats and Tracks of the Northeast to clearly identify what you’ve discovered in the fields or forest!

P.L.A.Y. presents . . .

More updated animal stories from the Thornton Burgess archives featuring local four-legged friends in the fields and forests.

Arriving January 2021!

Deer BOOK LOOK -Chapter 1- The Adventures of Lightfoot the Deer

Original 1921 story written by Thornton Burgess is now revised for the 21st century family.

– Chapter 1 –

How Lightfoot the Deer Learned to Jump


Peter Rabbit was filled with awe. It was this way from the very first time he saw Lightfoot the Deer leap over a fallen tree, and forever after, whenever he saw Lightfoot, he had a little of that same feeling stirred in his heart.

You see, Peter has always been very proud of his own powers of jumping. To be sure Jumper the Hare could jump higher and farther than he could, and Jumper is his own cousin, so it was all in the family, so to speak, and Peter didn’t mind. However, to see Lightfoot the Deer go sailing over the tops of the bushes and over the fallen trees as if he had springs in his legs was quite another matter.

“I wish I could jump like that,” said Peter out loud one day, as he stood with his hands on his hips watching Lightfoot leap over a pile of brush.

“Why don’t you learn to?” asked Jimmy Skunk with a mischievous twinkle in his eye which Peter couldn’t see. “Lightfoot couldn’t always jump like that; he had to learn. Why don’t you find out how? Probably Grandfather Frog knows all about it. He knows just about everything. If I were you, I’d ask him.”

“Oh I don’t know,” replied Peter. “I’ve asked him so many questions that I am afraid he’ll think me a nuisance. I tell you what, Jimmy, you ask him!” Peter’s eyes brightened as he said this.

Jimmy chuckled. “If there is anything you want to know from Grandfather Frog, you really need to ask him yourself. That really is the best way to understand. Truthfully, I don’t want to know how Lightfoot learned to jump or if he can jump over the moon, if you please. I have other important matters on my mind. Have you seen any fat beetles this morning, Peter?”

“Actually no,” replied Peter. “I’m not really interested in fat beetles so I’ve not noticed.”

Jimmy laughed. It was a good-natured, chuckling kind of a laugh. “Well, here’s hoping that you learn how to jump like Lightfoot the Deer and that I get a stomach full of fat beetles.”

And with that Jimmy Skunk slowly ambled along down the Crooked Little Path.

Peter watched him out of sight, sighed, and started for the dear Old Briar-patch, stopped, sighed again, and then headed straight for the Smiling Pool. Grandfather Frog was there on his big green lily pad, and Peter wasted no time.


Grandfather Frog’s lily pad pond

“Grandfather Frog, how did Lightfoot the Deer learn to jump so splendidly?” he blurted out almost before he had stopped running.

Grandfather Frog blinked his great googly eyes. “Chug-a-rum!” he said. “If you’ll join me by jumping across the Laughing Brook over there where it comes into the Smiling Pool, I’ll tell you.”

Peter looked at the Laughing Brook in dismay. It was quite wide at that point. “I don’t think I can,” he said with hesitation.

“Then I won’t be able to tell you how Lightfoot learned to jump unless you join me,” replied Grandfather Frog, quite as if the matter were settled.

“OK, I’ll try!” Peter hastened to blurt out.

“All right. While you are trying, I’ll see if I can remember the story,” replied Grandfather Frog.

Peter went back a little so as to get a good start. Then he ran as hard as he knew how, and when he reached the bank of the Laughing Brook, he jumped with all his might. It was a good jump—a splendid jump—although it wasn’t quite enough of a jump, and Peter landed with a great splash in the water!

Now Peter does not like the water, and though he can swim, he doesn’t feel at all at home in it. He paddled for the shore as fast as he could, and just before his feet touched bottom, he heard the great, deep voice of Grandfather Frog.

“That is just the way Lightfoot the Deer learned to jump—trying to do what he thought he couldn’t do and keeping at it until he could. It all happened a great while ago when the world was young.”

Peter shook himself off and layed down in the sunniest spot he could find to dry out and still be within hearing distance to listen to Grandfather Frog’s story.

“Lightfoot’s great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather was named Lightfoot the Deer too,” continued Grandfather Frog in his best story-telling voice.

“He had slim legs just like Lightfoot has now and just such wonderful, branching antlers. When he was in the season where he had a rack of antlers, he was not much afraid of anybody. Those enemies swift enough of foot to catch him he could successfully fight with his antlers, and those too big and strong for him to fight were not swift enough to catch him. However, there was a season in every year when he had no antlers, as is the case with Lightfoot. Every spring Lightfoot loses his antlers and through the summer a new pair grows. It was so with Old Mr. Deer of that long-ago time, and when he lost those great antlers, he felt very helpless and timid.”


Open meadow where Old Mr. Deer of long ago use to run along the edge of the Green Forest.

“Old Mr. Deer loved the open meadows and spent most of his time there. When he had to run, he wanted nothing in the way of his slim legs. And how he could run! My, my, my, how he could run! However, there were others who could run swiftly in those days too, Mr. Wolf and Mr. Dog. Mr. Deer always had a feeling that someday one or the other would catch him. When he had his antlers, this thought didn’t worry him much, and yet when he lost his antlers, it worried him a great deal. He felt perfectly helpless then. ‘The thing for me to do is to keep out of sight,’ he said to himself, and so instead of going out on the meadows and in the open places, he hid among the bushes and in the brush on the edge of the Green Forest and behind the fallen trees in the Green Forest.”

“One thing did trouble Old Mr. Deer, who wasn’t old at that time, you know. He couldn’t run fast at all among the bushes and the fallen trees and the old logs. This was a new worry, and it troubled him almost as much as the old worry. He felt that he was in a dreadful fix. You see, hard times had come, and the big and strong were preying on the weak and small in order to live.”

” ‘If I stay out on the meadows, I cannot fight if I am caught; and if I stay here, I cannot run fast if I am found. Oh, dear! Oh, dear! What shall I do?’ cried Old Mr. Deer, as he lay hidden among the branches of a fallen hemlock-tree.”

“Just at that very minute along came Mr. Hare, the great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather of your cousin Jumper. A big log was in his path, and he jumped over it as lightly as a feather. Old Mr. Deer watched him and sighed. If only he could jump like that in proportion to his size, he would just jump over the bushes and the fallen logs and the fallen trees instead of trying to run around them or squeeze between them.”

“And then he had an idea. Why shouldn’t he learn to jump? He could try, anyway. So when he was sure that no one was around to see him, he practiced jumping over little low bushes. At first he couldn’t do much, so he kept trying and trying, and little by little he jumped higher. It was hard work, and he scraped his slim legs many times when he tried to jump over old logs and stumps.”

“Now all this time some one actually had been watching him, though he didn’t know it. It was Old Mother Nature. One day she stopped him as he was trotting along a path. ‘What is this you are doing when you think no one is watching?’ she asked curiously. ‘I’ve given you beauty and speed, what more do you need?’ Old Mr. Deer explained to Mother Nature why he wanted to learn to jump. Mother Nature heard him through. ‘Let me see you jump over that bush,’ she said pointing to a bush almost as high as Old Mr. Deer himself.

” ‘Oh, I can’t jump nearly as high as that!’ he cried. Then tossing his head proudly, he added, ‘Although I’ll give it a try.’ So just as Peter Rabbit tried to jump the Laughing Brook when he felt sure that he couldn’t, Old Mr. Deer tried to jump the bush. Just imagine how surprised he was when he sailed over it without even touching the top of it with his hooves! Mother Nature had given him in that moment the gift of jumping as a reward for his perseverance and because she saw that he really had need of it.”

“So ever since that long-ago day, the Deer have lived where the brush is thickest and the Green Forest most tangled, because they are such great jumpers that they can travel faster there.”

“Now, Peter, what do you think of that tale?”

“I think I would you like to try to jump over the Laughing Brook again!” said Peter.

And off he went lipperty-lipperty-SPLASH!

The Laughing Brook . . . lipperty-lipperty-SPLASH!

This Curious Capkin has created more P.L.A.Y. Adventures just for you!

  1. What other animals of the fields and forest come to mind when you think of great jumpers?
  2. When you go outdoors test your own jumping skills by finding snow or mud and see how far you can leap and measure the distance between your footprints. Or make a mark in the sand or lay down a rope to stand on top of and then jump forward and have a family member measure the distance between. How far did you go? Can you jump further with practice just like Lightfoot and his relatives?
  3. Visit your favorite local forest and try out your new jumping skills to get across a small stream or to go over a log just like a deer. Perhaps come up with a sing-song rhyme that helps get you over every time! Or say with each footstep and then leap “1-2-3 look at me-e-e-e-e-e-e!”
  4. Can you capture what this jumping feels like in your P.L.A.Y. Adventures nature journal? What colors or shapes or words describe it best? Interview your family and ask what their experience feels like too!
  5. If you find deer tracks in the snow look for where they sometimes leap and measure it with your own foot steps (one boot toe to heel in front of the other) and then measure your foot in inches/centimeters when you get home to see how far the deer jumped.
Deer tracks in the snow

P.L.A.Y. presents . . .

More updated animal stories from the Thornton Burgess archives featuring local four-legged friends in the fields and forests.

Arriving January 2021!

SKYscape Simplicity #56: A Meditative Moment


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Look skyward

< Breathe In >

< Breathe Out >

Take a moment to watch the clouds roll by and connect to the calm and beauty of nature that is always there for you.

*Bonus*

By any chance did you notice the two-eared hippy-hoppy fluffy friend up in the clouds floating above the green meadow?

Now how in the world did Peter Rabbit get up there?!?

❤ ❤ ❤

Wishing you much peace & prosperity throughout your P.L.A.Y. days.


❤ ❤ ❤


peace: inner calm

prosperity: good fortune & well-being

Beaver BOOK LOOK – Chapter 4 – The Adventures of Paddy the Beaver (Annotated)


Story +Local Videos



CHAPTER 4

Sammy Jay Speaks Up and Gets Curious


When Sammy Jay reached the place deep in the Green Forest where Paddy the Beaver was so hard at work, he didn’t hide as had the little four footed people. You see he had no reason to hide because he felt perfectly safe up in the trees. Paddy had just cut a big tree and it fell with a crash as Sammy came hurrying up. Sammy was so surprised that for a minute he couldn’t speak. He had not supposed that anybody except Farmer Brown or Farmer Brown’s boy could cut down so large a tree as that, and it quite took his breath away. “How in the world did you do that?” Sammy asked with great curiosity once he got his voice back.

Paddy the Beaver looked up with a twinkle in his eyes. “Oh, hello, Mr. Jay! I suspect you are not accustom to trees crashing down unless it is in a storm when rough Brother North Wind whips up!” he said.

“Absolutely right you are!” said Sammy, hopping up and down, as he was still startled.

“Ha, ha, ha!” laughed Peter Rabbit down below, who had quite forgotten that he was hiding.

“Oh, how do you do, Mr. Rabbit? I’m very glad you have called on me this morning,” said Paddy, just as if he hadn’t known all the time just where Peter was. “Mr. Jay seems to have been startled this morning by my work. And what about you Peter?”

Peter laughed again. ” Oh, I’m alright as long as I stay here tucked out of the way while you make those trees come crashing down. It was worth it just to see Sammy Jay jump!”

Sammy Jay looked down at Peter. Then he looked over at Paddy. All Sammy could do was shake his head and then inch closer to inspect what Paddy was doing. Paddy kept right on working, paying no attention to Sammy looking on from overhead. This made Sammy even more curious and so he kept coming nearer and nearer until at last he was in the very tree that Paddy happened to be cutting. Paddy’s eyes twinkled.

Just at that moment Paddy thumped the ground with his tail, which is his way of warning folks to watch out, and suddenly scurried away as fast as he could run. Sammy Jay was so surprised and he suddenly felt himself falling. With barely time for a screech he spread his wings to fly and branches of the tree swept him down right with them into the Laughing Brook.

You see while Sammy had been trying to figure out how the trees were being cut by Paddy’s big teeth, Paddy the Beaver had cut down the very tree in which Sammy was sitting.

Thankfully Sammy wasn’t hurt, he was just wet and muddy. And for the moment, Sammy was the most miserable looking Jay that you ever did see.

Paddy the Beaver immediately spoke to all the little folks from the Green Meadows and Smiling Pool who were still new to his work and he said “this is a building site folks and you need to stay clear of my work so that no one else lands in the mud!”

The little folks who were hiding all nodded in agreement and then a slight chuckle rippled through the Green Forest as they all looked at the soggy Sammy Jay. Even Sammy had to laugh on the inside just the tiniest bit as he began to clean his feathers and then flew off to make his way back to the Green Meadows.


Purchase your copy of this P.L.A.Y. story adventure HERE!


The Adventures of Paddy the Beaver (Annotated):

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

by Karen L. Willard

Learn all about amazing beaver behaviors in this P.L.A.Y.-filled nature story activity book based on the Thornton Burgess animal adventure series.

❤ ❤ ❤

This P.L.A.Y. guide book provides hours of entertainment as a read aloud to share with the whole family, a community group, in a classroom, or to simply curl up with solo.

The BONUS P.L.A.Y. guide pages include opportunities to:

  • illustrate each chapter

  • photos shared of real beaver activity

  • tree themed and blank nature journaling pages

  • recommended resources and so much more


Bonus!!! 

P.L.A.Y. Beaver VIDEO Series


Video 7 HERE

 Hear an update looking above and in the beaver canal.

Video 8 HERE

 Still harvesting beaver food – see the wood chips and teeth marks up close!


Collection of all local BEAVER videos #1-44 on PINTEREST

From January 2019 to March 2020 Karen P.L.A.Y.fully captured signs of a beaver’s local activities at her home in the hilltowns of Massachusetts to pin and share the adventures with you on her Pinterest Beaver Board.


 ❤ ❤ ❤

Compliment your purchase of this P.L.A.Y. guide with these other great beaver reads found at your local library.

At Home with the Beaver: The Story of a Keystone Species

by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent + photographed by Michael Runtz

This short and sweet book gives a nice look into beaver life and prepares you to then request at your local library a copy of Michael Runtz’s 400 page coffee table book of amazing beaver photographs.


BARK: A Field Guide to Trees of the Northeast

by Michael Wojtech

This helpful guide will show you and your family how to distinguish the textures, shapes, and colors of bark to then recognize various tree species throughout New England including the ones Paddy the Beaver used to build his dam and fill his food storage.

Excellent guide book especially for when the leaves are down and you are looking for answers in the middle of winter!

❤ ❤ ❤


Purchase other P.L.A.Y. nature story books and adventure guides HERE.

Bird BOOK LOOK – Chapter 45 – Northern Goshawk + Great Horned Owl


Missed Chapter 1? Begin HERE



CHAPTER 45 – Peter Sees Two Feathered Hunters


While it is true that Peter Rabbit likes winter, it is also true that life is not easy for him that season. In the first place he has to travel about a great deal to get sufficient food, and that means that he must run more risks. There isn’t a minute of day or night that he is outside of the dear Old Briar-patch when he can afford not to watch and listen for danger. You see, at this season of the year, Reddy Fox often finds it difficult to get a good meal. He is hungry most of the time, and he is forever hunting for Peter Rabbit. With snow on the ground and no leaves on the bushes and young trees, it is not easy for Peter to hide. So, as he travels about, the thought of Reddy Fox is always in his mind.

However, there are others whom Peter fears even more, and these wear feathers instead of fur coats. One of these is Terror the Goshawk. Peter is not alone in his fear of Terror. There is not one among his feathered friends who will not shiver at the mention of Terror’s name. Peter will not soon forget the day he discovered that Terror had come down from the Far North, and was likely to stay for the rest of the winter. Peter went hungry all the rest of that day.

You see it was this way: Peter had gone over to the Green Forest very early that morning in the hope of getting breakfast in a certain swamp. He was hopping along, lipperty-lipperty-lip, with his thoughts chiefly on that breakfast he hoped to get, and at the same time with ears and eyes alert for possible danger, when a strange feeling swept over him. It was a feeling that great danger was very near, though he saw nothing and heard nothing to indicate it. It was just a feeling, that was all.

Now Peter has learned that the wise thing to do when one has such a feeling as that is to seek safety first and investigate afterwards. At the instant he felt that strange feeling of fear he was passing a certain big, hollow log. Without really knowing why he did it, he dived into that hollow log, and even as he did so there was the sharp swish of great wings. Terror the Goshawk had missed catching Peter by a fraction of a second.


Hollowed out log for hiding.


With his heart thumping as if it were trying to pound its way through his ribs, Peter peeped out of that hollow log. Terror had alighted on a tall stump only a few feet away. To Peter in his fright he seemed the biggest bird he ever had seen. Of course he wasn’t. Actually he was very near the same size as Redtail the Hawk, whom Peter knew well.

His back was bluish. His head seemed almost black. Over and behind each eye was a white line. Underneath he was beautifully marked with wavy bars of gray and white. On his tail were four dark bands. And Peter could see the eyes that were fixed on the entrance to that hollow log. Peter shivered as if with a cold chill.

“I hope,” thought Peter, “that Mr. and Mrs. Grouse are nowhere about.” You see he knew that there is no one that Terror would rather catch than a member of the Grouse family.

Terror did not sit on that stump long. He knew that Peter was not likely to come out in a hurry. Presently he flew away, and Peter suspected from the direction in which he was headed that Terror was going over to visit Farmer Brown’s hen yard. Of all the members of the Hawk family there is none more bold than Terror the Goshawk. He would not hesitate to seize a hen from almost beneath Farmer Brown’s nose. He is well named, for the mere suspicion that he is anywhere about strikes terror to the heart of all the furred and feathered folks. He is so swift of wing that few can escape him.


Barnyard hen is dinner for a Goshawk.


All that day Peter remained hidden in that hollow log. He did not dare put foot outside until the Dark Shadows began to creep through the Green Forest. Then he knew that there was nothing more to fear from Terror the Goshawk, for he hunts only by day. Once more Peter’s thoughts were chiefly of his stomach, for it was very, very empty.

However, it was not intended that Peter should fill his stomach at once. He had gone only a little way when from just ahead of him the silence of the early evening was broken by a terrifying sound “Whooo-hoo-hoo, whooo-hoo!” It was so sudden that Peter had all he could do to keep from jumping and running for dear life. He knew that voice and he knew, too, that safety lay in keeping perfectly still. So with his heart thumping madly, as when he had escaped from Terror that morning, Peter sat as still as if he could not move.

It was the hunting call of Hooty the Great Horned Owl, and it had been intended to frighten some one into jumping and running, or at least into moving ever so little. Peter knew all about that trick of Hooty’s. He knew that in all the Green Forest there are no ears so wonderful as those of Hooty the Owl, and that the instant he had uttered that hunting call he had strained those wonderful ears to catch the faintest sound which some startled little sleeper of the night might make. The rustle of a leaf would be enough to bring Hooty to the spot on his great silent wings, and then his yellow eyes, which are made for seeing in the dusk, would find his prey.

So Peter sat still, fearful that the very thumping of his heart might reach those wonderful ears. Again that terrible hunting cry rang out, and again Peter had all he could do to keep from jumping. He did not jump though, and a few minutes later, as he sat staring at a certain tall, dead stub of a tree, wondering just where Hooty was, the top of that stub seemed to break off, and a great, broad winged bird flew away soundlessly like a drifting shadow. It was Hooty himself. Sitting perfectly straight on the top of that tall, dead stub he had seemed a part of it. Peter waited some time before he ventured to move. Finally he heard Hooty’s hunting call in a distant part of the Green Forest, and knew that it was safe for him to once more think of his empty stomach.


Icy babbling brook in winter


Later in the winter while the snow still lay in the Green Forest, and the ice still bound the Laughing Brook, Peter made a surprising discovery. He was over in a certain lonely part of the Green Forest when he happened to remember that near there was an old nest which had once belonged to Redtail the Hawk. Out of idle curiosity Peter ran over for a look at that old nest. Imagine how surprised he was when just as he came within sight of it, he saw a great bird just settling down on it. Peter’s heart jumped right up in his throat. At least that is the way it seemed, for he recognized Mrs. Hooty.

Of course Peter stopped right where he was and took the greatest care not to move or make a sound. Presently Hooty himself appeared and perched in a tree near at hand. Peter has seen Hooty many times before, always as a great, drifting shadow in the moonlight. Now he could see him clearly. As he sat bolt upright he seemed to be of the same height as Terror the Goshawk, although with a very much bigger body. If Peter had known it, his appearance of great size was largely due to the fluffy feathers in which Hooty was clothed. Like his small cousin, Spooky the Screech Owl, Hooty seemed to have no neck at all. He looked as if his great head was set directly on his shoulders. From each side of his head two great tufts of feathers stood out like ears or horns. His bill was sharply hooked. He was dressed all in reddish-brown with little buff and black markings, and on his throat was a white patch. His legs were feathered, and so were his feet clear to the great claws.

Above all else it was on the great, round, yellow eyes that Peter kept his own eyes. He had always thought of Hooty as being able to see only in the dusk of evening or on moonlight nights, and somehow he had a feeling that even now in broad daylight Hooty could see perfectly well, and he was quite right.

For a long time Peter sat there without moving. He dared not do anything else. After he had recovered from his first fright he began to wonder what Hooty and Mrs. Owl were doing at that old nest. His curiosity was aroused. He felt that he simply must find out. By and by Hooty flew away. Very carefully, so as not to attract the attention of Mrs. Owl. Peter went back the way he had come. When he was far enough away to feel reasonably safe, he scampered as fast as ever he could. He wanted to get away from that place, and he wanted to find some one of whom he could ask questions.

Presently he met his cousin, Jumper the Hare, and at once in a most excited manner told him all he had seen.

Jumper listened until Peter was through. “If you’ll take my advice,” he said, “you’ll keep away from that part of the Green Forest, Cousin Peter. From what you tell me it is quite clear to me that the Owl Family have begun nesting.”

“Nesting!” exclaimed Peter. “Nesting! Why, gentle Mistress Spring will not get here for a month yet!”


Winter Wonderland


“Hooty the Great Horned Owl doesn’t wait for Mistress Spring,” said Jumper. “He and Mrs. Owl believe in getting household cares out of the way early. Along about this time of year they hunt up an old nest of Redtail the Hawk or Clever the Crow or Chatterer the Red Squirrel, for they do not build a nest themselves. Then Mrs. Owl lays her eggs while there is still snow and ice. Why their youngsters don’t catch their death from cold when they hatch out is more than I can say. They simply don’t. I’m sorry to hear that the Owl Family have a nest here this year. It means a bad time for a lot of little folks in feathers and fur. I certainly shall keep away in from that part of the Green Forest, and I advise you to.”

Peter said that he certainly should, and then started on for the dear Old Briar-patch to think things over. The discovery that already the nesting season of a new year had begun turned Peter’s thoughts towards the coming of sweet Mistress Spring and the return of his many feathered friends who had left for the far away South so long before. A great longing to hear the voices of Welcome Robin and Winsome Bluebird and Little Friend the Song Sparrow swept over him, and a still greater longing for a bit of friendly chatting with Jenny Wren. In the past year he had learned so much about his feathered neighbors, and there were still so many things he wanted to know, things Jenny Wren and others could tell him. He couldn’t wait to begin the year anew with more questions and curiosity about his feathered friends and all of the creatures in the great Green Forest, and beyond.



P.L.A.Y. in Place Projects


Try these activities to extend your bird story adventures:


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 44 – Pine Grosbeak + Common Redpoll


Bird Book for HOMESCHOOLING



Jumper the Hare didn’t have time to reply to Peter Rabbit’s question when Peter asked if there was any one else besides the Crossbills who had come down from the Far North.

“I’ve come from the North,” said a voice from a tree just back of them.

It was so unexpected that it made both Peter and Jumper hop in startled surprise. Then they turned to see who had spoken. There sat a bird just a little smaller than Welcome Robin, who at first glance seemed to be dressed in strawberry-red. However, a closer look showed that there were slate-gray markings about his head, under his wings and on his legs. His tail was brown. His wings were brown, marked with black and white and slate. His bill was thick and short.

“Who are you?” asked Peter.


Sumac in the fall in full foliage flare!


“I’m Piny the Pine Grosbeak,” replied the stranger.

“Oh,” said Peter. “Are you related to Rosebreast the Grosbeak who nested last summer in the Old Orchard?”

“I certainly am,” replied Piny. “He is my very own cousin. I’ve never seen him because he never ventures up where I live and I don’t go down where he spends the winter, however all members of the Grosbeak family are cousins.”

“Rosebreast is very lovely and I’m very fond of him,” said Peter. “We are very good friends.”

“Then I know we are going to be good friends,” replied Piny. As he said this he turned and Peter noticed that his tail was distinctly forked instead of being square across like that of Welcome Robin. Piny whistled, and almost at once he was joined by another bird who in shape was just like him, although they were dressed in slaty-gray and olive-yellow, instead of the bright red that he himself wore. Piny introduced the newcomer as Mrs. Grosbeak.

“Lovely weather, isn’t it?” she said. “I love the snow. I wouldn’t feel at home with no snow about. Why, last spring I even built my nest before the snow was gone in the Far North. We certainly hated to leave up there, and yet food was getting so scarce that we had to. We have just arrived. Can you tell me if there are any cedar trees or ash trees or sumacs near here?”


Sumac berries spell supper for winter birds!


Peter hastened to tell her just where she would find these trees and then rather timidly asked why she wanted to find them.

“Because they hold their berries all winter,” replied Mrs. Grosbeak promptly, “and those berries make very good eating. I rather thought there must be some around here. If there are enough of them we certainly shall stay a while.”

“I hope you will,” replied Peter. “I want to get better acquainted with you. You know, if it were not for you folks who come down from the Far North the Green Forest would be a rather lonely place in winter. There are times when I like to be alone, and I also like to know that there is someone I can call on when I feel lonesome. Did you and Piny come down alone?”

“No, indeed,” replied Mrs. Grosbeak. “There is a flock of our relatives not far away. We came down with the Crossbills. All together we made quite a party.”


A dear old-briar patch off of the meadow in the snowy sunshine.


Peter and Jumper stayed a while to chat with the Grosbeaks. Then Peter thought that it was high time for him to return to the dear Old Briar-patch, and bidding his new friends goodbye, he started off through the Green Forest, lipperty-lipperty-lip. When he reached the edge of the Green Forest he decided to run over to the weedy field to see if the Snowflakes and the Tree Sparrows and the Horned Larks were there. They were, and almost at once Peter discovered that they had company. Twittering cheerfully as he busily picked seeds out of the top of a weed which stood above the snow, was a bird very little bigger than Chicoree the Goldfinch. When Peter looked at him he just had to rub his eyes.

“Goodness gracious!” he muttered, “it must be something is wrong with my eyes so that I am seeing red. I’ve already seen two birds dressed in red and now there’s another. It certainly must be my eyes. There’s Dotty the Tree Sparrow over there; I hear his voice. I wonder if he will look red.”

Peter hopped near enough to get a good look at Dotty and found him dressed just as he should be. That relieved Peter’s mind. His eyes were quite as they should be. Then he returned to look at the happy little stranger still busily picking seeds from that weed top.

The top of his head was bright red. There was no doubt about it. His back was toward Peter at the time and but for that bright red cap Peter certainly would have taken him for one of his friends among the Sparrow family. You see his back was grayish-brown. Peter could think of several Sparrows with backs very much like it. When he looked closely he saw that just above his tail this little stranger wore a pinkish patch, and that was something no Sparrow of Peter’s acquaintance possesses.

Then the lively little stranger turned to face Peter and a pair of bright eyes twinkled mischievously. “Well,” he said, “how do you like my appearance? ”


Green Forest in Winter


“My, how pretty you are!” Peter exclaimed.

The little stranger was pretty. His breast was pink. Below this he was white. The middle of his throat was black and his sides were streaked with reddish-brown. He looked pleased at Peter’s exclamation.

“I’m glad you think I’m pretty,” he said. “I like pink myself. I like it very much indeed. I suppose you’ve already seen my friends, Snipper the Crossbill and Piny the Grosbeak.”

Peter promptly bobbed his head. “I’ve just come from making their acquaintance,” he said. “By the way you speak, I presume you also are from the Far North. I am just beginning to learn that there are more folks who make their homes in the Far North than I had dreamed of. If you please, I don’t believe I know you at all.”

“I’m Redpoll,” was the prompt response. “I am called that because of my red cap. Yes, indeed, I make my home in the Far North. There is no place like it.”

Redpoll called softly and almost at once was joined by another red-capped bird without a pink breast, and with sides more heavily streaked. “This is Mrs. Redpoll,” announced her lively little mate. Then he turned to her and added, “I’ve just been telling Peter Rabbit that as long as he cannot visit our beautiful Far North he must become acquainted with those of us who come down here in the winter. I’m sure he’ll find us very friendly folks.”

“I’m sure I shall,” said Peter. “If you please, do you live altogether on these weed seeds?”

Redpoll laughed a happy laugh. “Hardly, Peter,” he replied. “We like the seeds of the birches and the alders, and we eat the seeds of the evergreen trees when we get them. Sometimes we find them in cones Snipper the Crossbill has opened and hasn’t picked all the seeds out of. Sometimes he drops some for us. Oh, we always manage to get plenty to eat. There are some of our relatives over there and we must join them. We’ll see you again, Peter.”

Peter said he hoped they would and then watched them fly over to join their friends. Suddenly, as if a signal had been given, all spread their wings at the same instant and flew up in a birch tree not far away. All seemed to take wing at precisely the same instant. Up in the birch tree they sat for a minute or so and then, just as if another signal had been given, all began to pick out the tiny seeds from the birch tassels. No one bird seemed to be first. It was quite like a drill, or as if each had thought of the same thing at the same instant. Peter chuckled over it all the way home. And somehow he felt better for having made the acquaintance of the Redpolls. It was the feeling that everybody so fortunate as to meet them on a cold winter’s day is sure to have.


P.L.A.Y. in Place Projects


Try these activities to extend your bird story adventures:


Did you miss Chapter 1 – 43? Begin HERE


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 43 – Ruffed Grouse + Crossbill


Missed Chapter 1? Begin HERE



 CHAPTER 43 ~ Odd Feet and an Odd Bill


Rabbit tracks in the snow.


Peter Rabbit had gone over to the Green Forest to call on his cousin, Jumper the Hare, who lives there altogether. He had no difficulty in finding Jumper’s tracks in the snow, and by following these he at length came up with Jumper. The fact is, Peter almost bumped into Jumper before he saw him, for Jumper was wearing a coat as white as the snow itself. Squatting under a little snow-covered hemlock tree he looked like nothing more than a little mound of snow.

“Oh!” cried Peter. “How you startled me! I wish I had a winter coat like yours. It must be a great help in avoiding predators.”


Rabbit tracks on the move in the snow heading through the meadow.


“It certainly is, Cousin Peter,” cried Jumper. “Nine times out of ten all I have to do is to sit perfectly still when there was no wind to carry my scent. I have had Reddy Fox pass within a few feet of me and never suspect that I was near. I hope this snow will last all winter. It is only when there isn’t any snow that I am particularly worried. Then I am not easy for a minute, because my white coat can be seen a long distance against the brown of the dead leaves.”

Peter chuckled. “That is just when I feel safest,” he replied. “I like the snow, although this brown-gray coat of mine certainly does show up against it. Don’t you find it pretty lonesome over here in the Green Forest with all the birds gone, Cousin Jumper?”


Ruffed Grouse by Louis Agassiz Fuertes


Jumper shook his head. “Not all have gone, Peter,” he said. “Strutter the Grouse and Mrs. Grouse are here, and I see them every day. They’ve got snowshoes now.”

Peter blinked his eyes and looked rather perplexed. “Snowshoes!” he exclaimed.

“I don’t understand what you mean,” said Peter.

“Come with me,” replied Jumper, “and I’ll show you.”

So Jumper led the way and Peter followed close at his heels. Presently they came to some tracks in the snow. At first glance they reminded Peter of the odd tracks Farmer Brown’s ducks made in the mud on the edge of the Smiling Pool in summer. “What funny tracks those are!” he exclaimed. “Who made them?”

“Just keep on following me and you’ll see,” replied Jumper.

So they continued to follow the tracks until presently, just ahead of them, they saw Strutter the Grouse. Peter opened his eyes with surprise when he discovered that those odd tracks were made by Strutter.

“Cousin Peter wants to see your snowshoes, Strutter,” said Jumper as they came up with him.


Snow coated trees and lone pathway leading to the magical meadow where curious rabbits go lip-lip-liperty-lip!


Strutter’s bright eyes sparkled. “He’s just as curious as ever,” he said. “Well, I don’t mind showing him my snowshoes because I think myself that they are really quite wonderful.” He held up one foot with the toes spread apart and Peter saw that growing out from the sides of each toe were odd little horny points set close together. They quite filled the space between his toes. Peter recalled that when he had seen Strutter in the summer those toes had been smooth and that his tracks on soft ground had shown the outline of each toe clearly. “How funny!” exclaimed Peter.

“There’s nothing funny about them,” responded Strutter. “If Old Mother Nature hadn’t given me something of this kind I certainly would have a hard time of it when there is snow on the ground. If my feet were just the same as in summer I would sink right down in when the snow is soft and wouldn’t be able to walk about at all. Now, with these snowshoes I get along very nicely. You see I sink in however very little.”

He took three or four steps and Peter saw right away how very useful those snowshoes were. “My!” he exclaimed. “I wish Old Mother Nature would give me snowshoes too.” Strutter and Jumper both laughed and after a second Peter laughed with them, for he realized how impossible it would be for him to have anything like those snowshoes of Strutter’s.

“Cousin Peter was just saying that he should think I would find it lonesome over here in the Green Forest. He forgot that you and Mrs. Grouse stay all winter, and he forgot that while most of the birds who spent the summer here have left, there are others who come down from the Far North to take their place,” said Jumper.

“Who, for instance?” asked Peter.


Red Crossbill by Louis Aggasiz Fuertes


“Snipper the Crossbill,” replied Jumper promptly. “I haven’t seen him yet this winter, though I know he is here because only this morning I found some pine seeds on the snow under a certain tree.”

“Maybe those seeds might have just fallen or Chatterer the Red Squirrel might have dropped them,” said Peter.

“This isn’t the season for seeds to just fall, and I know by the signs that Chatterer hasn’t been about,” replied Jumper. “Let’s go hop over there and take a look.”

Once more he led the way and Peter followed. As they drew near that certain pine tree, a short whistled note caused them to look up. Busily at work on a pine cone near the top of a tree was a bird about the size of Billy the House Sparrow. He was dressed all in dull red with brownish-black wings and tail.

“See, there’s Snipper this very minute,” said Jumper. “And over in that next tree are a lot of his family and relatives. Also do you see in what a funny way they climb about among the branches. They don’t flit or hop, they just climb around. I don’t know of any other bird anywhere around here that does that.”

Just then a seed dropped and landed on the snow almost in front of Peter’s nose. Almost at once Snipper himself followed it, picking it up and eating it with as much unconcern as if Peter and Jumper were a mile away instead of only a foot or so. The very first thing Peter noticed was Snipper’s bill. The upper and lower halves crossed at the tips. That bill looked very much as if Snipper had struck something hard and twisted the tips over.

“How did your bill get twisted like that?” asked Peter.


A cone that has released the seeds from within onto the snow below.


Snipper laughed. “It isn’t twisted,” he said. “It is just the way Old Mother Nature made it, and I really don’t know what I’d do if it were any different.”

Peter scratched one long ear, as is his way when he is puzzled. “I don’t see,” he said, “how it is possible for you to pick up food with a bill like that.”

“You see,” said Snipper, “I live very largely on the seeds that grow in pine cones and the cones of other trees. Of course I eat some other food, such as seeds and buds of trees. However, what I love best of all are the seeds that grow in the cones of evergreen trees. If you’ve ever looked at one of those cones, you will understand that those seeds are not very easy to get at. With this kind of a bill it is no trouble at all. I can snip them out just as easily as birds with straight bills can pick up seeds. You see my bill is very much like a pair of scissors.”

“It really is very wonderful,” confessed Peter. “Do you mind telling me, Snipper, why I never have seen you here in summer?”

“For the same reason that in summer you never see Snowflake and Wanderer the Horned Lark and some others I might name,” replied Snipper.

“Give me the Far North every time. I would stay there the year through except that sometimes food gets scarce up there. That is why I am down here now. If you’ll excuse me, I’ll go finish my breakfast.”

Snipper flew up in the tree where the other Crossbills were at work and Peter and Jumper watched them finish their breakfast of pine cone seeds.


P.L.A.Y. in Place Projects


Try these activities to extend your bird story adventures:


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!