Category: Biology (Page 1 of 40)

#Nonfiction Monday #kidlit: Swoop and Soar

After decades of declining numbers, ospreys are on the rise again. Discover more about how people are helping ospreys recover with the new picture book,  Swoop and Soar: How Science Rescued Two Osprey Orphans and Found Them A New Family In The Wild by Deborah Lee Rose and Jane Veltkamp.

In the first part of the book, we hold our breaths following the perilous journey of two newly-hatched osprey chicks. One night a storm destroys  Swoop and Soar’s nest and the chicks fall to the ground. Nearby, another osprey family has lost their offspring, but still come back to their nest. With a little help from Jane, will the new family adopt the homeless chicks?

What comes after is not so much back matter as a second fascinating book about ospreys and how biologist Jane Veltkamp works hard to rescue them.

The illustrations are glorious full color photographs. The text matches the illustrations perfectly. Some of the photographs will make you ask, “How did they get that?”

With Swoop and Soar, get hooked by the nail-biting story of the chicks, then stick around for some amazing information about ospreys. Highly recommended!

Related activities:

Visit Deborah Lee Rose’s author website for a free educational guide.

Birds of Prey Northwest has additional information about Swoop and Soar and other raptors.

Activity: Check the status of ospreys where you live.

Growing up in western New York state, we  rarely saw ospreys even though we had ponds and lakes everywhere.  Now, a few decades later,  it is common to find the huge osprey nests atop utility poles. It is wonderful that the birds are on the rebound.

Check with your local Audubon Society or bird watching organization to find out whether ospreys are found in your area. Take a trip to look for them.

See our previous post about eagles and ospreys for information on how to identify both birds.

Looking for more children’s books about birds? Check our growing list at Science Books for Kids.

Reading age ‏ : ‎ 5 – 13 years
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Persnickety Press (September 5, 2022)
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1943978565
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1943978564

Disclosure: An e-ARC of this book was provided by the publisher for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.


Love children’s nonfiction books? Try the Nonfiction Monday blog.

Great Backyard Bird Count #GBBC 2022

Want to participate in a child-friendly citizen science project that has been ongoing for 25 years? The Great Backyard Bird Count is coming up February 18-21, 2022.


The Great Backyard Bird Count is one of our favorite bird-centered STEM activities. All you and your family members need to do is count the birds you see over 15 minutes (at least once over the four day period) and then report your findings. Although it is called “backyard,” you may count birds anywhere they are found, including parks, preserves, or fields. There is plenty of information and instructions about getting started at the website.

This year there is a free webinar for participants on Feb 16, 2022. Register here.

This is a wonderful project to revisit year after year. Perhaps you can spot new birds and/or population trends in your own community.  For example, the other day I spotted a Crissal Thrasher (All About Birds page) perched on top of a saguaro. That C-shaped curved beak was incredible and I wondered how it could eat with it.

What can you find? Time to grab those binoculars and meet your bird neighbors!

Related Activities:

Looking for children’s books about birds?

1. Check out Taking Flight: a List of Children’s Books About Bird Migration at Science Books for Kids


2. The list of children’s books for young birdwatchers at Science Books for Kids


You may also want to try:

Are you planning to participate in The Great Backyard Bird Count? What kinds of birds do you see in your backyard? We’d love to hear.

STEM Friday #Kidlit The Nest That Wren Built

Today we are featuring a lovely STEM picture book that has made many of the best of 2020 lists, The Nest That Wren Built by Randi Sonenshine and illustrated by Anne Hunter.

This gently rhyming book about Carolina wrens building a nest follows the style of “The House That Jack Built.”

This is the bark, snippets of twine,
spidery rootlets, and needles of pine
that shape the nest that Wren built.

The text goes into detail about how the wrens gather materials to make the nest. Some of the ingredients are expected, like soft moss for a lining the inside. Others are very surprising, like draping a snakeskin on the outside (to ward off predators). After the nest is built, the story follows the eggs and baby birds through development.

Anne Hunter’s illustrations are a fascinating combination of whimsical and realistic. Young readers will have fun looking for little things hidden in each page.

The back matter includes a glossary and additional interesting facts about wrens.

The Nest That Wren Built will enchant nature lovers, especially budding ornithologists. Surprise yourself with a copy today.

Related STEM activities:

1. Child-sized Bird’s Nest

Let your young makers assemble their own child-sized bird nest. (This is best as an outdoor activity, although some of the materials could be used inside.)

Gather materials to create nests, using items you can recycle or compost. Here are some suggestions:

  • Cardboard strips
  • Hay or straw (pet supply or craft stores)
  • Grapevines (craft stores)
  • Shredded paper
  • Fallen leaves
  • Branches

Show the children some photographs of nests or the real thing if there are some nearby. Always leave the nests where you found them. Even if they are empty, birds can reuse the nesting materials.

This one fell out of a tree after a wind storm:

bird nest

Talk about some of the reasons birds build nests.

  • Place to raise young
  • Shelter from adverse weather
  • Place to rest

Now have the children build their own human-sized nest. They can work in groups. Young children may need some adult assistance. Be prepared for messy fun.

Note:  If you are working with a number of children, they may remove materials from the nests of others. Decide how you want to deal with this in advance. I told them that birds in nature really do take materials from other birds’ nests. Eventually they decided to leave one member of a group in the nest while the others went to gather supplies, just how birds sometimes handle the problem.

Make sure you have your camera ready. You will find there are many creative ways to make nests. Take pictures of your “birds” sitting in their nests.


2. See our previous post with several nest-related STEM activities

3. Consider joining the upcoming Great Backyard Bird Count, Feb 12-15, 2021. Share It Science has a free bird counting printable.

4. Want to find out more? Over at Science Books for Kids, we are building a list of children’s books about Animal Architects.

Reading age : 4 – 8 years
Publisher : Candlewick; Illustrated edition (March 10, 2020)
ISBN-10 : 1536201537
ISBN-13 : 978-1536201536

Disclosure: This book was provided by our local library. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.

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