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Copyright 2002
The Teaching Home
Box 20219
Portland OR 97294
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A Bible Curriculum
for Every Member of Your Family
"Christian Home Schooling Resources"
is the subject line of the e-mail accompanying
and sponsoring this newsletter.

Table of Contents
Feeding Winter Birds
     Getting Started
     Feeder Maintenance
     Learn About Birds
     Looking Out for Your Birds
Recommended Resources
     Moonjar Moneyboxes
     AVKO Dyslexia Research Foundation
     School Express
     Nature's Way
     Impresa Publishing's Measure Match
     Picture Book Learning
     New Vision Systems
     God's World Current Events Newspapers
     Teaching Home Magazine Back Issues
Sunnyside Up: Humorous Anecdote


     "Are not five sparrows sold for two cents?
     Yet not one of them is forgotten before God."
          (Luke 12:6)

     Almost half the households in the United States provide food
for wild birds, and more than 100 North American bird species
supplement their natural diets with birdseed, suet, fruit, and
nectar that are obtained from these feeders.
     By feeding birds we bring them close so we can see and study
them more easily.  It is an easy and enjoyable way to start
teaching children about wildlife.
     Supplementing their food source also makes birds' lives
easier during the winter when it can be especially challenging to
find food and water.

Cindy Short and Sue Welch, Sisters and Co-Editors
The Pat Welch Family, Publishers
Pat, Sue, Heather, Holly, and Brian

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Feeding Winter Birds

Getting Started
     The basics of feeding birds is to provide:
 *  A variety of quality seed.
 *  Fresh water for drinking and bathing.
 *  Ample cover, preferably provided by native plants, which also
provides potential nesting sites and a source of natural food.
     Keep in mind that bird feeders also present potential risks,
such as window collisions, predation, and exposure to disease.
     It may take only a few hours, or weeks, for birds to discover
your new feeders.  Help birds find this new food source by
scattering sunflower seeds near your feeders.
     Birds visit feeders most often in the early morning and
again just before dusk.
     The balance of this article will expand on these basics.

     Most of the information in this article was compiled from
the following sources:
     Cornell Lab of Ornithology

     National Audubon Society

     Bird Source

     Wild Birds Unlimited

     The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

Helping or Hurting
     Since feeders only supplement natural foods and birds don't
settle in and dine at just one place, most species will not
suffer if feeders go empty for days or even weeks at a time.
     Studies suggest that backyard feeders are not creating a
population of dependent wintering birds.
     "All the same," as one bird feeder put it, "birds that come
into your yard at dusk on a cold evening are hungry, and one does
not like to disappoint one's guests.  It's my pleasure to make
sure that they always find something to eat in my yard."

     Sometimes birds suffer more from lack of water than food.
Birds need water for drinking and bathing all year around,
including in the winter when natural supplies may be frozen, and
in dry weather during the summer.
 *  Set up at least one birdbath.
 *  The surface should be easy to clean, and there should be a
     gently sloping shallow end.
 *  Place the birdbath away from the feeders to keep the water
     from being contaminated.
 *  Empty water from your birdbath every day: Brush or wipe it
     clean and rinse, then refill the birdbath with fresh water.
 *  Clean it once a week, using a 5–10 percent solution of
     chlorine bleach.

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 *  Use the keyboarding program that teaches reading and
     spelling skills as your child masters the computer keyboard.
 *  Visit the AVKO website for information on dyslexia, freebies,
     and our catalog of spelling and reading materials.

     Different birds are attracted by different kinds of seed.
     By supplying a variety of food, you are more likely to
attract many different species.
     To attract a particular bird to your backyard, you need to

1.  If that species is in your area.
     See a list of the 25 birds most frequently seen by Feeder
Watchers in your area during the 2003-2004 Feeder Watch season.

2.  The food they prefer.
     See Online Bird Guide at

Sunflower Seed
     Experts recommend black oil sunflower seed as one of the
best single seeds to attract a variety of birds to your feeder.
 *  It has a high meat-to-shell ratio and a high fat content.
 *  It's small and thin-shelled, making it easy for small birds
     to handle and crack.
 *  They're also cheaper than the larger grey-and-white striped
     sunflower seeds with thicker seed coats.

Mixed Birdseed
     Mixes usually contain a lot of filler that birds won't eat.
They rummage through the seeds in the feeder and kick the
unwanted seed onto the ground where it rots.
 *  Instead, buy the seed you know your birds want.
 *  Provide only one type of food per feeder.

Nyjer Seed
     A preferred food of the finch family of birds.  It is
expensive, and thus needs to be placed in a hanging tube with
tiny holes, designed especially for nyjer.

     Suet is a high-energy food and is especially favored by
birds wintering in cold locations.  It turns rancid when
temperatures rise above 70 degrees.
     According to recent studies, birds prefer plain, inexpensive
beef suet over commercial suet cakes.  Ask at your grocery store
butcher counter if you don't see packages of suet on display.
     It's best to offer seeds and suet in separate feeders,
rather than providing seed-filled suet cakes. Many seed-eating
birds do not like suet and can become covered with the fat when
trying to pick seeds out of the mixtures. The grease may cause
feathers on the birds' faces and heads to become matted or to
fall out, exposing bare skin to cold weather.

Other Foods
 *  Safflower Seed
 *  White Millet
 *  Cracked Corn (vulnerable to rot)
 *  Fruit, such as apple or chopped and soaked raisins.
 *  Crushed Peanuts

What Not To Feed
 *  Do not put out salted peanuts as most garden birds cannot
     process salt and will die if they are given too much.
 *  Do not feed birds anything with sugar or chocolate in it.
 *  Never just put out plain peanut butter as birds can choke on it.
     Always mix with it seed.

     Keep seed dry, free of mold, and safe from rodents by
storing it in a metal can with a tight-fitting lid, such as a
clean garbage can. Discard damp seed.

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     Feeders need to be compatible with the food that is being
dispensed and the feeding habits of the birds for which it is
intended.  Following are a variety of feeders to accommodate
specific types of birds and their diets. Choosing more than one
will help attract more species and avoid feeder congestion.
     There are three categories of feeders.

1.  Tray, Ground, or Platform Feeders
 *  Screen-bottomed trays sit several inches off the ground or
your deck and help to keep grain or seeds and bird droppings from
coming in contact with each other.
 *  Some feeders have covers to keep out snow and rain.
 *  Some may have wire mesh to keep out squirrels and large birds
     like crows.

2.  Hopper Feeders
 *  Position on a pole, branch, or patio fixture about five feet
     off the ground.
 *  A metal hopper feeder is sturdy, weather resistant to rain
     and decay, and easy to clean.
 *  Keeps several pounds of mixed seed dry and ready.

3.  Tube Feeders
 *  A sunflower-seed tube feeder is a good choice to start with.
 *  Generally made from plastic, hollow tube with multiple
     feeding ports.
 *  Select a model with metal ports around the seed dispensers to
     protect the feeder from nibbling squirrels and house sparrows.
 *  Hang the feeder at least five feet off the ground.
 *  Keeps seed dry.
 *  Size of perch will determine types of birds that will visit
     this feeder.
 *  Specialized tube feeders for Nyjer or peanuts.

Suet Feeder
     These wire mesh cages can be hung from trees, from poles
near other feeders, or from a wire stretched between trees at
least five feet from the ground to keep it out of the reach of

Where To Place Your Feeders
     Considering your convenience and the birds safety, place
your feeders:
 *  Where they are easy for your family to see.
 *  Where it is convenient for you to refill them.
 *  In a sheltered area, out of the pounding rain and howling
     wind, so feed stays dry.
 *  Close to natural shelter such as trees or shrubs, which offer
     refuge to birds as they wait their turn to feed.
 *  About 10 feet from cover that could hide squirrels and cats.
 *  Vary the heights of your feeders and spread them out so more
     birds can use them and to prevent overcrowding.
     See more information at

Measure Match:  A New
Memory Game Teaches
Common Measurements
     Simple and fun, this colorful card
deck contains 34 pairs of equivalent
time, length, weight, and volume measurements. No reading
required. Ages 4 and up.  Match cards using colors, shapes,
or words. $15 plus $3 S/H.

Feeder Maintenance
     Feeding birds does not require much effort, but some
maintenance is necessary. Birds can become ill from moldy or
decomposing seeds and hulls that accumulate on feeder trays. Bird
droppings and other contaminants may also spread infectious bird

1.  Regularly Clean Feeders
 *  Bird feeders should be cleaned every month.
     Scrub with soap and water, then dip into a solution of one
part bleach and nine parts water (or one part vinegar to 20 parts
 *  Use gloves and wear a mask for your own protection from
     bird-borne diseases.
 *  Rinse feeders well and dry thoroughly before refilling.

2.  Clean Ground below Feeders
 *  Rake up birdseed hulls and other waste at least once a week.
     Moldy or spoiled food is unhealthy not only for birds but
     for your outside pets and can attract unwanted rodents.

3.  Preventative Care
 *  To help keep food cleaner, use feeders that allow birds to
     perch away from the food.
 *  In wet weather, put out only enough seed to last several
 *  Do not build feeders out of plywood; some birds eat the glue.
 *  Check that feeders have no sharp edges that would scratch
     birds and cause them to become susceptible to disease.

4.  In Case of a Disease Outbreak
     If you notice dead birds or obviously sick birds (they're
less active and less alert) near your feeders:
 *  Stop feeding immediately.
 *  Discard all seed.
 *  Clean and disinfect all feeders and the ground below them.
 *  Wait a week before resuming feeding.
 *  Check to see if your state is collecting information on dead birds.

Picture Book Learning shows how to use favorite children's books
to teach a variety of language arts and reading skills with ready-to-use
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Learn About Birds

Identifying Birds
     Most birds that come to your feeders can be identified
without any equipment, but often you may need some help.
     You might also get interested enough in birds to go birding
during the spring, summer, or fall months.

 *  Get better views of the bird.
 *  See details to help with the identification.

Field Guides
 *  Look for an easy-to-use guide.
 *  Find a guide that features birds in your region.
     Resource:  See article, "Backyard Birdwatching,"
plus order binoculars and bird guides at

     Use these for recording the birds you see and their habits,
as well as for art and writing exercises if your child gets
interested in birds.
 *  Keep a notebook exclusively for taking down details of your
 *  Make a list of all the varieties of birds you see.
 *  Use the notebook for sketches of birds.
 *  Write a description of how the birds act and interact with
     each other at your feeder.

What to look for
     A number of features will help your identification.  Learn
the names of different parts of a bird's body to help when
writing your notes or when you are describing the bird to others.

 *  Find a section in your science texts and learn about the
     parts of birds.

Online Resources
     Learn how to identify birds at
     See beautiful diagrams at
     Label a diagram at

Online Bird Guide
     A dynamic online guide for bird species identifications and
in-depth information, including description, food, audio sounds,
video, and distribution maps.

Other Studies
 *  Study the purpose of various bird species in God's creation.
 *  Look up Bible passages about birds and how God uses them
     as illustrations for us.
 *  Read articles about birds and the false theory of evolution. (Search for "birds.")


   God's World News Is
   a Welcome Complement
   to Your Curriculum.

     These weekly current events and activity newspapers use
today's news and discoveries to help you teach your children
to develop a Christian perspective on world events.  Your
children will love the fascinating stories, colorful photos, and
engaging activities.
     (Please use the special link above so that your order will be
credited to The Teaching Home's affiliate account.  Thank you.)


Join the 2004-2005 Feeder Watch
     Sign up now and receive an instructional kit, including a
bird identification poster and a bird feeding handbook.

Create Your Own Online Wildlife List
     Start a bird list and see how many different birds you can

Plant Your Own Backyard Wildlife Habitat
     The National Wildlife Federation will help you create a
thriving habitat for wildlife that will attract, shelter, and
feed birds.

View and Study the Art of J. J. Audubon

Learn To Draw a Bird

Provide Bird Houses
     Clean out or put up bird houses in your yard to give wrens a
nice warm place to roost during the winter.


   51 Back Issues of The
   Teaching Home Magazine
   Offered for Sale Online.

     Full of information, inspiration, and support that never
goes out of date, these issues are relevant and applicable to
your needs today.
     In each issue an average of 58 home schoolers contribute
practical how-to articles, encouraging letters, and ready-to-use
teaching tips.

Looking Out for Your Birds

     Squirrels are a notorious nuisance because of their acrobatic
abilities and determination in eating bird feed.  You can:
 *  Try to stop them by placement of feeders and devices to keep
     them out of the feed.
 *  Distract them with their own feeders with lower-priced food,
     such as a corn ear holder and locate them far away from bird
 *  When all else fails, pretend you are feeding squirrels and
     enjoy watching them!

Window Crashes
     Colliding with a window is the most common cause of bird
death associated with feeders. To avoid this problem, position
feeders at least three feet from your window.
     If collisions persist, fruit-tree netting stretched taut a
few inches in front of the glass is the best deterrent.

     Cats account for about 30 percent of birds killed at feeders
(bells on their collars do not hamper their stealthy hunting skills).
     By keeping your cat indoors, you will not only protect
birds, but also keep your cat safe from traffic, disease, and
fights with neighborhood pets and wildlife. For more information,

     If a hawk starts regular visits to your feeders, stop
feeding until the smaller birds disperse and the hawk looks for
food elsewhere.

Please Thank and Support
Our Sponsoring Advertisers!
     These free newsletters are made possible financially by the
fine suppliers who advertise in them and in the accompanying
e-mail.  Please consider those that advertised in our last issue
(below) as well as the ones in this issue.

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Sunnyside Up
     Our 9-year-old daughter and I were studying her science
lesson.  She  was learning about the five  classes of
vertebrates: mammals, reptiles, birds, fish, and amphibians.  We
were naming animals and putting in them their correct category.
     When I mentioned tuna, she said that it was amphibian.  I
asked her how she figured that, being that an amphibian spends
half of its life on land and half in the water.
     She replied, it lives in the water, and then it is on the
grocery store shelf in a can on land, where we buy it.
     Submitted by Dawn Brown, Florida

God Loves You.
     Because we have been separated from God by sin, Jesus Christ
died in our place, then rose to life again.  If we trust Jesus
Christ as our Savior and Lord, He will give us eternal life.
     "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that
not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of
works, that no one should boast" (Ephesians 2:8, 9).

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