Yesterday I went with a couple of friends and their kids to the John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove. This was the first home of the famous naturalist in the United States and the only home of his still standing. We have been studying birds this term in our nature study with Ambleside and I thought this trip would be a fitting conclusion to our year. The kids have really been into birds and love drawing them in their nature notebooks, watching and identifying them at the birdfeeders and learning bird calls in a birds songs book that Christian picked up at a thrift shop. They are getting really good at it too.
The first bird we saw at the center was a Tree Swallow. He let us get a pretty close look at him but wouldn't turn his body so I could get a good shot of the rest of his iridescent blue back. He was too busy guarding his family's nest and wanted to keep a wary eye on us.
I love these birds and they are great to attract to your yard because they eat tons of insects.
Sometimes in the summer when I am mowing the lawn a pair of swallows will swoop around me catching insects that are being disturbed by the lawn mower. They get so close that you may think they are trying to attack you until you realize what they are doing and then you are glad that you are helping give them a tasty treat while ridding your lawn of insects at the same time.
Besides enjoying the beautiful grounds the kids were also able to take a class about bird flight given by a really fun and energetic teacher. Having a great tour guide makes such a huge difference in the kids' interest in a subject and this girl was a winner.
They learned about different types of bird wings and feathers and how they are made for specific types of flight.
And because we were such a small group we were able to be the first group to be introduced to "Owlbert", a screech owl who was rescued from a collision with a car and brought to the Audubon center to be cared for. He was not used to being around large groups so he needed to be socialized. Poor thing should have gone to public school ;)
He was such a wise looking little fellow but we found out that owls brains are actually very small because they have to make room in their skulls for those huge eyes.
Inside the Audubon house we were able to see a very rare folio with life sized Audubon drawings
The kids were also able to spend time in the "drawing room" which was set up with posed birds, paper and colored pencils so they too could practice observing and drawing birds like Audubon. Don't you love the walls?
Each of these trips makes me love Pennsylvania more. We have such rich history here!