Birds of Prey Nature Study, Journaling, and Picture Study with Robert Bateman (Charlotte Mason Monday)

Monday, April 6, 2015




We have had a wonderful time studying Birds of Prey.  Our study of birds started last year with our reading of Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day.  We have actually since abandoned our work through this Science text and instead, we've followed our interest of birds on quite the journey.

I recently shared some of our Nature Study of Backyard Birds and many readers said they truly enjoyed seeing the ideas of Nature Journaling, so, I thought I'd share our work on Birds of Prey as well.

The absolute BEST resources I have found for the study of birds has been Robert Bateman's books.  He has many art books which we have borrowed from the library but he also has some books specifically written for children.  He is an incredibly talented artist but also an engaging writer.  

His books are very educational but also they read as interesting living books as he easily conveys his passion for birds and the natural world.   I highly recommend these two books for Nature Study of birds - Backyard Birds, An Introduction and Birds of Prey, An Introduction.  They have been a wealth of information and enchantment for our homeschool days~!



Some of the topics we've covered in our study of Birds of Prey:

  • What makes a bird a Raptor?
  • What are some of the main differences between Raptors and other types of birds?
  • What types of Birds of Prey are there? (Buteos, Accipiters, Eagles, Falcons, Kites, Ospreys, Secretary Birds, Vultures, Owls...)
  • What kinds of Raptors live near us?
  • Habitats
  • Survival abilities (sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell)
  • Flight and feathers of the Raptors
  • Beaks and Talons of the Raptors
  • Family life (mating, eggs and hatching, young and fledglings)
  • Threats to the Raptors
Much of these topics and readings came straight from the above book, Birds of Prey, An Introduction by Robert Bateman.



Art and Picture Study - Robert Bateman

Robert Bateman has been our artist of choice for the Art and Picture Study for the past several months.  His paintings are beautifully done, realist works from nature and they are perfect for nature study and picture study with children.  We were using The World of Robert Bateman (photographed below) from the library on loan and then I was blessed to find it second hand for $4 at the local Bibles for Missions store.  (Love it when that happens!)

Most every painting in his books is accompanied by an interesting narrative from Bateman himself.  In one book he tells a story of how he was attacked by a protective 'papa' goose while trying to take a peek at the nest of a Canadian Goose family.  The male goose jumped right into his small boat and tried to repeatedly hit him with his large wings!

For picture study, I will choose several paintings ahead of time that go along with the theme.  So, for Birds of Prey I selected several paintings that specifically depicted Birds of Prey.  We typically studied one painting per day by looking at it, talking about it (what do you notice, what do you like/not like, what kind of feeling does this painting give, what do you think the bird is doing/had just done/is thinking about?, etc.), and then we will usually read the corresponding text from Bateman.  It has been great!



A caption from Birds of Prey - Bateman even includes Aesop's Fables in his book!


A sample of a page spread from Robert Bateman's Birds of Prey.


Evening Light, White Gyrfalcon by Bateman (1972)


Great Horned Owl, Bateman



Peregrine and Ruddy Turnstones by Bateman (1984)


Above Right - "Golden Eagle in the Highlands" by Robert Bateman (1977), bottom right - showing different positions of the beak of the Golden Eagle.






Other Resources and Ideas:

 There is no shortage of beautiful, well-written living books about birds.  I'm hoping to start a list soon and post it here.  Into the Woods,  John James Audubon Lives His Dream is one I highly recommend.  It is a children's biography written in a narrative style about the life of Audubon.  Our family has enjoyed it a few times now.


A great living book about Peregrine Falcons.


A peak at a couple day's worth of books for us...




Art Projects and Nature Journaling Pages:

I was pretty excited to find a new (to me) and super fantastic art site for kids.   It's called the Art for Kids Hub and I really love this Dad's videos.  He's got great stuff from Origami (could have really used THIS video when we struggled through Origami Frogs for passover... ha), painting, sketching, sculpting, preschool art - you  name it.  The site is an amazing resource, especially for us Homeschoolers!  Thanks Rob!  These videos and step-by-steps are so easy to follow and our kids loved the results of their Bald Eagles!

Here is a direct link to the video we used.  Once we did our sketches, we added them to our Nature Journal pages.


Check it out:

Our Bald Eagle pictures - Alex (age 6), Mom, Simon (age 9), and Audrey (bottom right, age 8).



For our Birds of Prey Nature Journal pages, I let the kids get creative.  We printed off some pictures, wrote an acrostic poem, sketched  many different types of Raptors, and used quite a few of the art lessons from Draw Write Now as well.  (A review is coming this week!)

Audrey's Golden Eagle



Acrostic Poem!



A couple different resources for drawing Hawks and Eagles.  We particularly enjoyed using Draw Write Now's page for the Golden Eagle.



The finished Eagle, by Simon and Mom (did I mention, we LOVE Draw Write Now?!)


Combining maps, poems, and art is a great way to create an easy and simple Nature Journal page.


Another Draw Write Now picture of a Bald Eagle by Audrey.


Alex's Bald Eagle page.  He drew the Eagle with the help of Art for Kids Hub.



Audrey's owls.


Audrey's picture showing the nest of a family of Raptors.


Poetry (Haiku) and Sketching by Simon (age 9)... notice how he is copying the layout of the Draw Write Now books?




And just for fun, the kids decided to make Birds of Prey out of Lego!


Simon's Osprey!



Audrey's bird and Simon's word creation along with some Bald Eagles they made out of Pearler Beads!




Links we used:

Draw an Owl
Draw a Red Tailed Hawk
Draw an Osprey (step by step)
How to Draw an Eagle
Birds of Prey Video



Hip Homeschool Moms


3 comments:

  1. Love, Love, Love!!! Lego Raptors are awesome!!!! Great job :-)

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  2. Love this!! We have at least three of Bateman's books and a couple of his art prints. His work is beautiful in the detail and realism!! I never thought of using his books to accompany nature study, but it's a brilliant idea. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. I love this post so much. What a cool collection of activities on birds. Thank you for your kind words too, that really means a lot...and I'm so glad you found us. We can help out with the frog origami next time ;)

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