Bird BOOK LOOK – Chapter 42 – Eastern Screech Owl


Missed Chapter 1? Begin HERE



CHAPTER 42 – Peter Learns Something About Spooky


Peter Rabbit likes winter. At least he doesn’t mind it so very much, even though he has to really work for a living. Perhaps it is a good thing that he does, for he might grow too fat to keep out of the way of Reddy Fox. You see when the snow is deep Peter is forced to eat whatever he can, and very often there isn’t much of anything for him except the bark of young trees. It is at such times that Peter gets into mischief, for there is no bark he likes better than that of young fruit trees. Now you know what happens when the bark is taken off all the way around the trunk of a tree. That tree dies. It dies for the simple reason that it is up the inner layer of bark that the life giving sap travels in the spring and summer. Of course, when a strip of bark has been taken off all the way around near the base of a tree, the sap cannot go up and the tree must die.

Now up near the Old Orchard Farmer Brown had set out a young orchard. Peter knew all about that young orchard, for he had visited it many times in the summer. Then there had been plenty of sweet clover and other green things to eat, and Peter had never been so much as tempted to sample the bark of those young trees. Now things were very different, and it was very seldom that Peter knew what it was to have a full stomach. He kept thinking of that young orchard. He knew that if he were wise he would keep away from there. And the more he thought of it the more it seemed to him that he just must have some of that tender young bark. So just at dusk one evening, Peter started for the young orchard.


Winter in the Old Orchard and Green Forest with a cloak of white.


Peter got there safely and his eyes sparkled as he hopped over to the nearest young tree. When he reached it, Peter had a dreadful disappointment. All around the trunk of that young tree was wire netting.

Peter couldn’t get even a nibble of that bark. He tried the next tree with no better result. Then he hurried on from tree to tree, always with the same result. You see Farmer Brown knew all about Peter’s liking for the bark of young fruit trees, and he had been wise enough to protect his young orchard.

At last Peter gave up and hopped over to the Old Orchard. As he passed a certain big tree he was startled by a voice. “What’s the matter, Peter?” said the voice. “You don’t look happy.”


Screech Owl by Louis Agassiz Fuertes


Peter stopped short and stared up in the big apple tree. Look as he might he couldn’t see anybody. Of course there wasn’t a leaf on that tree, and he could see all through it. Peter blinked. He knew that had there been any one sitting on any one of those branches he couldn’t have helped seeing him.

“Don’t look so high, Peter,” said the voice with a chuckle. This time it sounded as if it came right out of the trunk of the tree. Peter stared at the trunk and then suddenly laughed right out. Just a few feet above the ground was a good sized hole in the tree, and poking his head out of it was a funny little fellow with big eyes and a hooked beak.

“You certainly did fool me that time, Spooky,” cried Peter. “I ought to have recognized your voice, and I didn’t.”

Spooky the Screech Owl, for that is who it was, came out of the hole in the tree and without a sound from his wings flew over and perched just above Peter’s head. He was a little fellow, not over eight inches high, and there was no mistaking the family to which he belonged. In fact he looked very much like a small copy of Hooty the Great Horned Owl, so much so that Peter felt a little cold shiver run over him, although he had nothing in the world to fear from Spooky.

His head seemed to be almost as big around as his body, and he seemed to leave no neck at all. He was dressed in bright reddish-brown, with little streaks and bars of black. Underneath he was whitish, with little streaks and bars of black and brown. On each side of his head was a tuft of feathers. They looked like ears and some people think they are ears although they are not. His eyes were round and yellow with a fierce hungry look in them. His bill was small and almost hidden among the feathers of his face, it was hooked just like the bill of Hooty. As he settled himself he turned his head around until he could look squarely behind him, then brought it back again so quickly that to Peter it looked as if it had gone clear around. You see Spooky’s eyes are fixed in their sockets and he cannot move them from side to side. He has to turn his whole head in order to see to one side or the other.

“You haven’t told me yet why you look so unhappy, Peter,” said Spooky.

“Isn’t an empty stomach enough to make any fellow unhappy?” replied Peter.

Spooky chuckled. “I’ve got an empty stomach myself, Peter,” he said, “and it isn’t making me unhappy. I have a feeling that somewhere there is a fat mouse waiting for me.”


Snow edged hole in a tree – perhaps a perch for an owl? Maybe!


Just then Peter remembered what Jenny Wren had told him early in the spring of how Spooky the Screech Owl lives all the year around in a hollow tree, and curiosity made him forget for the time being that he was hungry. “Did you live in that hole all summer, Spooky?” he asked.

Spooky nodded solemnly. “I’ve lived in that hollow summer and winter for three years,” said he.

Peter’s eyes opened very wide. “And till now I never even guessed it,” he exclaimed. “Did you raise a family there?”

“I certainly did,” replied Spooky. “Mrs. Screech Owl and I raised a family of four as fine looking youngsters as you ever have seen. They’ve gone out into the Great World to make their own living now. Two were dressed just like me and two were gray.”

“That’s funny,” Peter exclaimed.

“What’s funny?” Spooky said with suspicion.

“Why that all four were not dressed alike,” said Peter.

“Oh, there’s nothing funny about it,” replied Spooky, and snapped his bill sharply with a little cracking sound. “We Screech Owls believe in variety. Some of us are gray and some of us are reddish-brown.”

Peter nodded as if he quite understood, although he couldn’t understand at all. “I’m ever so pleased to find you living here,” he said politely. “You see, in winter the Old Orchard is rather a lonely place. I don’t see how you get enough to eat when there are so few birds about.”

“Birds!” snapped Spooky. “What have birds to do with it?”

“Why, don’t you live on birds?” asked Peter innocently.

“I should say not. I guess I would starve if I depended on birds for my daily food,” responded Spooky. “I catch a Sparrow now and then, to be sure, usually it is a House Sparrow. However, I live mostly on mice and shrews in winter and in summer I eat a lot of grasshoppers and other insects. If it wasn’t for me and my relatives I guess mice would soon over run the Great World. Farmer Brown ought to be glad I’ve come to live in the Old Orchard and I guess he is, for Farmer Brown’s boy knows all about this house of mine and never disturbs me. Now if you’ll excuse me I think I’ll fly over to Farmer Brown’s young orchard. I ought to find a fat mouse or two trying to get some of the bark from those young trees.”

“Hah!” exclaimed Peter. “They can try all they want to, and they still won’t get any; I can tell you that.”

Spooky’s round yellow eyes twinkled. “It must be you have been trying to get some of that bark yourself,” he said.

Spooky once more chuckled as he spread his wings and flew away so soundlessly that he seemed more like a drifting shadow than a bird. Then Peter started for a certain swamp he knew of where he would be sure to find enough bark to stay his appetite.


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 Screech Owl
  • Visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – ALL ABOUT BIRDS –  Eastern Screech Owl Camouflage
  • Visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – K-12 Education – Dissecting an Owl Pellet
  • Q/A –Questions with answers to keep this conversation going are available for Screech Owl (p. 100-104) in the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock offered FREE online 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 41 – Snow Bunting + Horned Lark


Missed Chapter 1? Begin HERE



 CHAPTER 41 – More Friends Come With the Snow


Slaty the Junco had been quite right in thinking it was going to snow some more. Rough Brother North Find hurried up one big cloud after another, and late that afternoon the white feathery flakes came drifting down out of the sky.

Peter Rabbit sat tight in the dear Old Briar-patch. In fact Peter did no moving about that night, rather he remained squatting just inside the entrance to an old hole Johnny Chuck’s grandfather had dug long ago in the middle of the clear Old Briar-patch. Some time before morning the snow stopped falling and then rough Brother North Wind worked as hard to blow away the clouds as he had done to bring them.

When jolly, round, bright Mr. Sun began his daily climb up in the blue, blue sky he looked down on a world of white. It seemed as if every little snowflake twinkled back at every little sunbeam. It was all very lovely, and Peter Rabbit rejoiced as he scampered forth in quest of his breakfast.


Mr. Sun shining on the frosty snow.


He started first for the weedy field where the day before he had found Dotty the Tree Sparrow and Slaty the Junco. They were there before him, having the very best time as they picked seeds from the tops of the weeds which showed above the snow. Almost at once Peter discovered that they were not the only seekers for seeds. Walking about on the snow, and quite as busy seeking seeds as were Dotty and Slaty, was a bird very near their size the top of whose head, neck and back were a soft rusty-brown. There was some black on his wings, and the latter were mostly white and the outer tail feathers were white. His breast and under parts were white. It was Snowflake the Snow Bunting in his winter suit. Peter knew him instantly. There was no mistaking him, for, as Peter well knew, there is no other bird of his size and shape who is so largely white.

He had appeared so unexpectedly that it almost seemed as if he must have come out of the snow clouds just as had the snow itself. Peter had his usual question ready.

“Are you going to spend the winter here, Snowflake?” he asked.


Snow Bunting (top left) and Horned Lark (center/right) by Louis Agassiz Fuertes


Snowflake was so busy getting his breakfast that he did not reply at once. Peter noticed that he did not hop, rather he walked or ran. Presently he paused long enough to reply to Peter’s question. “If the snow has come to stay all winter, perhaps I’ll stay,” he said.

“What has the snow to do with it?” questioned Peter.

“Only that I like the snow and I like cold weather. When the snow begins to disappear, I just naturally fly back farther north,” replied Snowflake. “It isn’t that I don’t like bare ground, because I do, and I’m always glad when the snow is blown off in places so that I can hunt for seeds on the ground. When the snow begins to melt everywhere I feel uneasy. I can’t understand how folks can be contented where there is no snow and ice. You don’t catch me going way down south. Why, when the nesting season comes around, I chase Jack Frost clear way up to where he spends the summer. I nest way up on the shore of the Polar Sea.”

“If you are so fond of the cold in the Far North, the snow and the ice, what did you come south at all for? Why don’t you stay up there all the year around?” asked Peter.

“Like everybody else,” replied Snowflake, twittering merrily, “I have to eat in order to live. When you see me down here you may know that the snows up north are so deep that they have covered all the seeds. I always keep a weather eye out, as the saying is, and the minute it looks as if there would be too much snow for me to get a living, I move along. I hope I will not have to go any farther than this, however if some morning you wake up and find the snow so deep that all the heads of the weeds are buried, don’t expect to find me.”

“That’s what I call good, sound common sense,” said another voice, and a bird a little bigger than Snowflake, and who at first glance seemed to be dressed almost all in soft chocolate brown, alighted in the snow close by and at once began to run about in search of seeds. It was Wanderer the Horned Lark. Peter hailed him joyously, for there was something of mystery about Wanderer, and Peter, as you know, loves mystery.


Bird tracks two-by-two around the tree in the snow.


Peter had known him ever since his first winter, yet did not feel really acquainted, for Wanderer seldom stayed long enough for a real acquaintance. Every winter he would come, sometimes two or three times, seldom staying more than a few days at a time. Quite often he and his relatives appeared with the Snowflakes, for they are the best of friends and travel much together.

Now as Wanderer reached up to pick seeds from a weed top, Peter had a good look at him. The first things he noticed were the two little horn like tufts of black feathers above and behind the eyes. It is from these that Wanderer gets the name of Horned Lark. No other bird has anything quite like them. His forehead, a line over each eye, and his throat were yellow. There was a black mark from each corner of the bill curving downward just below the eye and almost joining a black crescent shaped band across the breast. Beneath this he was soiled white with dusky spots showing here and there. His back was brown, in places having almost a pinkish tinge. His tail was black, showing a little white on the edges when he flew.

“Do all of your family have those funny little horns?” asked Peter.

“No,” was Wanderer’s prompt reply. “Mrs. Lark does not have them.”

“I think they are very becoming,” said Peter politely.

“Thank you,” replied Wanderer. “I am inclined to agree with you. You should see me when I have my summer suit.”

“I quite like this suit. Is it so very different from this?” asked Peter.


Feeding feathered friends leave plenty of prints in the snow.


“Well said, Peter,” interrupted Snowflake. “I quite agree with you. I think Wanderer’s present suit is pretty enough for any one, and it is true that his summer suit is even prettier. It isn’t so very different, it is just brighter, and those black markings are much stronger and show up better. You see, Wanderer is one of my neighbors in the Far North, and I know a lot about him.”

Snowflake nodded and said “I couldn’t ask for a better neighbor. You should hear him sing, Peter. He sings up in the air, and it really is a very pretty song.”

“I’d just love to hear him,” replied Peter. “Why don’t you sing here, Wanderer?”

“This isn’t the singing season,” replied Wanderer promptly. “Besides, there isn’t time to sing when one has to keep busy every minute in order to get enough to eat.”

“I don’t see,” said Peter, “why, when you get here, you don’t stay in one place.”

“Because it is easier to get a good living by moving about,” answered Wanderer. “Besides, I like to visit new places.”

Just then Peter discovered something that he hadn’t known before. “My goodness,” he exclaimed, “what a long claw you have on each hind toe!”

It was true. Each hind claw was about twice as long as any other claw. Peter couldn’t see any special use for it and he was just about to ask more about it when Wanderer suddenly spied a flock of his relatives some distance away and flew to join them.


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 –  Snow Bunting
  • Visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – ALL ABOUT BIRDS –  Horned Lark
  • Visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – ALL ABOUT BIRDS – Snow Bunting as Songbirds
  • Nature journal coloring pages at Cornell Common Feeder Birds FREE (page W65 Snow Bunting).
  • Also a copy of Audubon’s Birds of America Coloring Book by Paul E. Kennedy with a coloring page of a Horned Lark (p24).
  • FYI -This coloring book is an excellent companion for this bird story series.


Source: Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton Burgess

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

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

P.L.A.Y. Time – Pass it on!

Spring #21 – Nature Alliteration Adventure


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


❤ ❤ ❤

An April treasure quest for you & your curious Capkin

is to search in nature for . . .

“Happy Hidden Hearts”

Bonus Multiple Melting in the Magical Meadow 

❤ ❤ ❤

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

❤ ❤ ❤


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!

Spring #35 – Nature Alliteration Adventure


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


❤ ❤ ❤

A March treasure quest for you & your curious Capkin

is to search in nature for . . .

“Curling & Climbing Crystals”

Bonus Super Cool Snow Sighting over the Creek

❤ ❤ ❤

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

❤ ❤ ❤


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!

Spring #30 – Nature Alliteration Adventure


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


❤ ❤ ❤

A March treasure quest for you & your curious Capkin

is to search in nature for . . .

“A Swooping Snow Sash in the Sunshine”

Bonus Curious & Colorful Capkins

❤ ❤ ❤

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

❤ ❤ ❤


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!

Spring #20 – Nature Alliteration Adventure


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


❤ ❤ ❤

A March treasure quest for you & your curious Capkin

is to search in nature for . . .

” Looks Like a Lofty White Whipped Cream Coated  Log”

Bonus  Six inches of Snow

❤ ❤ ❤

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

❤ ❤ ❤


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!

Spring #10 – Nature Alliteration Adventure


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


❤ ❤ ❤

A March treasure quest for you & your curious Capkin

is to search in nature for . . .

“Snapped + Splintered + Surrounded by Snow”

Bonus  Curious Capkin Checking for Cracks + Chips

❤ ❤ ❤

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

❤ ❤ ❤


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!

Spring #5 – Nature Alliteration Adventure


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


❤ ❤ ❤

A March treasure quest for you & your curious Capkin

is to search in nature for . . .

“Sunshine + Shade Surrounding a Curious Capkin Cave “

Bonus Snow made Hide-out Hole

❤ ❤ ❤

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

❤ ❤ ❤


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!

Spring #1 – Nature Alliteration Adventure


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


❤ ❤ ❤

A March treasure quest for you & your curious Capkin

is to search in nature for. . .

“Swinging on a Snow Swag on a Stick”

Bonus   Rainbow Capkins at P.L.A.Y.

❤ ❤ ❤

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

❤ ❤ ❤


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!

Beaver BOOK LOOK 22 (+videos) The Adventures of Paddy the Beaver (Annotated) by Karen L. Willard


Join this P.L.A.Y. adventure by purchasing 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.


Bonus P.L.A.Y. Beaver VIDEO Series

– Watch on PINTEREST


Video 40 (longer) <HERE> + 40A (shorter) <HERE>

 Winter Wondering – Where’s Paddy the Beaver?

Ice chunks breaking up at the beaver channel impacting food storage +lodge.

Video 41 <HERE>

Conditions keep changing and we keep wondering. . . where’s Paddy?

Close-up of the ice chunks breaking up at the beaver lodge entrance.


Visit these P.L.A.Y. video pins on PINTEREST to see updates of actual local beaver activity similar to Paddy’s adventures and stay tuned for more in this 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

 ❤ ❤ ❤


Join the P.L.A.Y. adventures and share them with family and friends!

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