Feeding the busy builder birds, at least trying to

Few years ago, one of our windows was thoroughly streaked with bird poop: only that window. Turns out it was a bird who converted the overhang into its own cozy condo. I called a local office (can’t recall the specific place) to have someone remove the nest, but I was advised to leave it undisturbed till the nest was abandoned. Dismantling the nest was illegal.

It stayed and they continued to leave daily presents for us on, under, and around the window.

So it wasn’t a surprise when recently we noticed berserk activity from a group of random birds; zipping from tree to tree. They weren’t a flock: it was just arbitrary flying around of different sized birds. When they were camouflaged inside the tree branches, we could hear little “beep” sounds, similar to a home smoke alarm that is low on battery. They’re probably building nests for spring hatching. Hopefully the nests will be built only in trees and not in the previous condo space above our window.

Hypothesis: birds are building nests for the winter; they will lay eggs soon

When we discovered small v-shaped nests in several trees, we wanted to feed them, especially during this busy building season. A quick search about healthful foods for birds explained that bananas are beneficial to birds’ healths. Perfect for using up bananas that are starting to brown.

I chopped up 2 bananas into pieces and strung it through the middle (I cored it with a small straw) with twine. Ellis crushed up nuts using a mortar and pestle, which she sprinkled over the banana. 

Strung pieces of banana through twine to hang on the tree branches
Lots of birds flying around this particular tree. We were certain the birds or squirrels would eat this nuts-banana treat, but when we checked the next day, it was untouched. We removed this treat after 2 days and put it out for the neighborhood squirrels.
A potential spot to leave our treat. When we saw the nest, we agreed to hang it on this tree. You can see the nest higher above the blue circle. The banana treat is circled in blue. I overestimated my height and underestimated the tree’s height.
Day 2 of checking on this banana treat. It was half-eaten.
Day 3. Safe to say the bird/s loved our treat. All eaten.

We enjoyed the process since we could follow up and see whether a bird had eaten the treat. It wasn’t easy going unnoticed by the birds with all the crunchy leaves littered on the ground. Although it would’ve been delightful to see the birds eating while we looked, it wasn’t going to happen with 3 pairs of eager eyes staring at them.

Conclusion: one treat by a nest was consumed. The others were pulled off the tree branches and given to squirrels. At least the leftover was consumed by a happy squirrel. Yay, we all win!

This picture was posted yesterday for “Silent Sunday” before I realized I would write a post about it.  That’s the context of this picture; kids perched on the rails calling birds, squirrels, any critter would do, to come and eat the banana treats.

Simple egg experiment and looking at that egg 5 weeks later

My kids and I did this experiment about a year ago and it was a lot of fun to do. But we didn’t fully understand the concepts covered, like density and buoyancy, so we redid it.

Goal of the experiment was to show how salt water has more density than plain water, which will make the egg float. Floating is buoyancy.

Supplies: a glass cup, enough water to fill half the cup, an egg (uncooked), salt, and a spoon to stir.

Instructions: The recipe called for a certain number of tablespoons of salt with a specific ounce of water, but I just decided to do it my way. See what happens. Even when I follow instructions, it’s a hit or miss. It’s all a learning process anyway.

We filled 3/4 of water in a tall glass cup, added (around) 4 spoon fulls of salt and stirred away. Once the salt particles dissolved, we gently plopped the egg into the cup. It floated down. After many tries of adding salt, stirring, and dropping the egg into the cup, we finally got the egg to float.

The process was slow since the egg had to be gently spooned out of the cup each time we needed to add and stir the salt. Many tries later, the egg finally floated; even with a poke down, the egg bounced back to a float.

SURPRISING RESULT, as a result of not knowing what to do with the egg post experiment: That cup of salt water and egg has been sitting on our kitchen counter for a month now. This was an interesting find…unexpected results! In the beginning, the water level was at the third ring from the top.

Post observational findings:

  1. water slowly evaporates
  2. even with evaporation, the egg still floats
  3. salt crystals formed on top of the egg
  4. No changes occurred on the egg
  5. Still floating, laden with salt crystals on top
  6. After most of the water evaporates, we’ll crack the egg to see if it’s changed

If you have an extra egg and time on your hands, you should try this experiment and see what you find!

I hope I covered the concepts correctly. I’m learning with the kids too and piecing my science knowledge one experiment at a time.

FOTD: Dandelion growth stages. May 21, 2020

On a recent nature walk with my kids, I noticed a few dandelions in different growth states! This was the first time I mentally put together its life cycle. It’s probably my skepticism that a flower could drastically transform from one state to a totally different one.

Funny…how I didn’t differentiate the yellow dandelion flower to a seeding dandelion. Like Homer Simpson slapping his forehead, “D’oh!” All this extra time from sheltering in place makes you question random things.

I’m especially happy with this discovery because it’ll be our next science study. It involves the outdoors and learning about something they see frequently. Also, I don’t have to wonder about which topic to cover next. 

It’ll probably include another nature walk searching for different stages of dandelions, researching its usefulness for health and food, illustrating, watching YouTube videos, etc. Cool! One less stress for homeschooling.

If you’re out talking a walk, take a closer look at them.

Thanks Cee for hosting the flower challenge! Through this, I’m learning details about different kinds of flowers and meeting new blogging friends. Win win!

A new school year already?!

School has already started for many or will start in a matter of days. I can imagine the spectrum of feelings a lot of us are experiencing: first-day jitters, anxiety, excitement, fear, relief, dread, freedom, anticipation, happiness, hope, among others.

I have mixed emotions. Since I’m my kid’s teacher, I feel an enormous amount of pressure. I do love my role and see it as a privilege to homeschool, but it’s daunting at times.

When I feel overwhelmed though, I try to focus on my long-term goals: education involves learning how to tackle new challenges (it’s not all fun and games); comparisons accomplishes nothing positive; celebrate individual successes; choose quality over quantity; and lastly aim to cultivate a discerning and reflective mind.

Being a homeschooling mom teaches me to trust that my kids’ minds are actively processing even when results are not tangible right away. And it makes me wonder the blind faith my parents had in me.

Growing up I was a late bloomer and things clicked way past the time it should’ve occurred. Compound that with the effects of brain trauma from a car accident: I was a hot mess. I fumbled through classes and feigned tummy aches. Despite them all, my parents cheered me on, paid for endless tutoring, and believed (or faked it well) that I would succeed. I wonder how they must’ve felt waiting for me even when I wasn’t showing much progress.

It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop. – Confucius

This year I pray that I will become a better teacher, co-learner and investigator, and guide. I want to have more motivation, patience, and a spontaneous mindset to explore new things. Eeek…I enter it with trepidation. But I know God will sustain me through the doubts and insecurities. In the big scheme of life, my mundane stuff seems insignificant to God, but to Him they are not.

Psalm 120:1:   
“In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me.”

Isaiah 40:31:
“But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

And my hope for kids, parents, teachers, and others involved in raising kids have a blessed, peace-filled, and fruitful school year!! Wishing many “a-ha” moments and joyful hearts pursuing mindfulness, God’s wisdom, and gratefulness.

And how can I forget the most important factor?? Fun and happiness.

Have fun, laugh more than usual, be spunky, love your kids for who they are, and pat yourself on the back more often.

 “Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”Winston Churchill