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Backyard Birds

Backyard Bird Feeding: A Relatively New Pastime

Stan Tekiela, author of Backyard Birds: Welcomed Guests at Our Gardens and Feeders, understands the thrill of bird-watching. The award-winning author and naturalist has been studying and photographing backyard birds for more than 25 years. Backyard bird feeding is a relatively new pastime. It wasn’t until after World War II that people started to feed birds for recreation. Eventually, when people moved off farms into urban and suburban settings, we started losing our relationship with the natural world. To reconnect, we began feeding the birds in our yards. Most of our backyard birds are small. Take the Ruby-crowned Kinglet, for instance. At only 3–4 inches tall, it’s one of the tiniest birds in your yard. Many of our backyard birds are also fabulous songsters. Have you ever noticed that it’s the small birds that sing so much and so beautifully? This relates to their environment. When a tiny male bird is in a big forest with tall trees, thick underbrush, and lots of shade, it’s hard to be...

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Backyard Bird Feeding: A Relatively New Pastime

Stan Tekiela, author of Backyard Birds: Welcomed Guests at Our Gardens and Feeders, understands the thrill of bird-watching. The award-winning author and naturalist has been studying and photographing backyard birds for more than 25 years. Backyard bird feeding is a relatively new pastime. It wasn’t until after World War II that people started to feed birds for recreation. Eventually, when people moved off farms into urban and suburban settings, we started losing our relationship with the natural world. To reconnect, we began feeding the birds in our yards. Most of our backyard birds are small. Take the Ruby-crowned Kinglet, for instance. At only 3–4 inches tall, it’s one of the tiniest birds in your yard. Many of our backyard birds are also fabulous songsters. Have you ever noticed that it’s the small birds that sing so much and so beautifully? This relates to their environment. When a tiny male bird is in a big forest with tall trees, thick underbrush, and lots of shade, it’s hard to be...

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Children reading books

Animal Books Get Kids into Nature

As I peruse my family bookshelf, I can’t help but notice that it’s filled with animal books. I suppose this isn’t surprising, considering how much kids love animals—especially cute ones. From stuffed teddy bears to household pets to beloved children’s books, animals are a part of most kids’ everyday lives. And that’s definitely a good thing. Connecting kids to the critters of the world also connects kids with nature. Yes, the great outdoors is a wonderful place, waiting to be explored. But if your kids are like mine, they’d often prefer to stay inside and play video games. That’s when we go to the bookshelf and grab a copy of Baby Bear Discovers the World, Esther the Eaglet, or, most recently, my new Super Animal Powers picture book. As much as my kids love their digital devices, they can’t resist good books about cute animals. But why does that help? How are these...

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Animal Books Get Kids into Nature

As I peruse my family bookshelf, I can’t help but notice that it’s filled with animal books. I suppose this isn’t surprising, considering how much kids love animals—especially cute ones. From stuffed teddy bears to household pets to beloved children’s books, animals are a part of most kids’ everyday lives. And that’s definitely a good thing. Connecting kids to the critters of the world also connects kids with nature. Yes, the great outdoors is a wonderful place, waiting to be explored. But if your kids are like mine, they’d often prefer to stay inside and play video games. That’s when we go to the bookshelf and grab a copy of Baby Bear Discovers the World, Esther the Eaglet, or, most recently, my new Super Animal Powers picture book. As much as my kids love their digital devices, they can’t resist good books about cute animals. But why does that help? How are these...

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Dinosaurs

Amazing Dinosaurs

James Kuether, author of The Amazing World of Dinosaurs: An Illustrated Journey Through the Mesozoic Era,  shares with us about the beginning of his love for dinosaurs. I was “that kid.” You know the one. Obsessed with dinosaurs at an early age, my parents would trot me out in front of visiting relatives to show off my ability to rattle off the incomprehensible multi-syllabic names of these long-dead animals. I remember my Aunt Dorinne oohing and aahing with mock bravado. I was embarrassed to death, proud of my taxonomic and etymological mastery, but ashamed by the dismissiveness of something she found childish and trite. As an adult, I still struggle with the perception that dinosaurs are child’s things. I can’t count how many friends have come up to me in the past year and said, “I hear you’re writing children’s books!” In many ways it’s understandable. Dinosaurs are introduced to us at an early age, and they...

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Animal Tracks of the Northwest Playing Cards

Amazing Dinosaurs

James Kuether, author of These Amazing Dinosaurs: An Illustrated Journey Through the Mesozoic Era,  shares with us about the beginning of his love for dinosaurs. I was “that kid.” You know the one. Obsessed with dinosaurs at an early age, my parents would trot me out in front of visiting relatives to show off my ability to rattle off the incomprehensible multi-syllabic names of these long-dead animals. I remember my Aunt Dorinne oohing and aahing with mock bravado. I was embarrassed to death, proud of my taxonomic and etymological mastery, but ashamed by the dismissiveness of something she found childish and trite. As an adult, I still struggle with the perception that dinosaurs are child’s things. I can’t count how many friends have come up to me in the past year and said, “I hear you’re writing children’s books!” In many ways it’s understandable. Dinosaurs are introduced to us at an early age, and they are arguably...

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Skunks

The Skunk — A Remarkable Critter

In this week’s column, Stan Tekiela explains a few things about the skunk. I recently had a lively conversation about skunks with some friends. While explaining a few things about the animal, it occurred to me that skunks are one of those critters that are commonly seen yet rarely given a second thought. So here are some of my favorite facts about this most remarkable critter. Most people don’t know that there are 12 different kinds of skunks in the world. Ten of the twelve species occur right here in North, Central, and South America. Two of these are found in Indonesia and the Philippines. This just exemplifies the fact that we have so many unique critters right here in America. Our skunks include the Striped Skunk, Eastern Spotted Skunk, Western Spotted Skunk, Hog-nosed Skunk, and Hooded Skunk. All skunks are crepuscular and nocturnal critters, which means that they are most active during the very...

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Children reading books

The Skunk — A Remarkable Critter

In this week’s column, Stan Tekiela explains a few things about the skunk. I recently had a lively conversation about skunks with some friends. While explaining a few things about the animal, it occurred to me that skunks are one of those critters that are commonly seen yet rarely given a second thought. So here are some of my favorite facts about this most remarkable critter. Most people don’t know that there are 12 different kinds of skunks in the world. Ten of the twelve species occur right here in North, Central, and South America. Two of these are found in Indonesia and the Philippines. This just exemplifies the fact that we have so many unique critters right here in America. Our skunks include the Striped Skunk, Eastern Spotted Skunk, Western Spotted Skunk, Hog-nosed Skunk, and Hooded Skunk. All skunks are crepuscular and nocturnal critters, which means that they are most active during the very...

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Hummingbirds

Discover the Amazing World of Hummingbirds with Stan Tekiela The hummingbird family, known as Trochilidae, includes more than 325 species. Compared with the other bird families, this one is huge! It is the second largest in size after the flycatcher family, which has around 400 species. Hummingbirds are New World birds found only in North, Central, and South America. These tiny flying jewels were unknown to the scientific community until the Old World explorers arrived. The wide variety of hummers must have mystified the early ornithologists. Even today, the reasons for the large number of species are still not known. None So Fair North American hummingbirds are some of the most easily recognized birds, characterized by many unique features. These petite treasures are well known for their specialized, brightly colored, sparkly feathers, which refract sunlight almost like a prism. Unlike most other birds, hummers enjoy a distinctive diet of nectar liberally seasoned with minute insects. For sipping their sweet drinks, they sport a long, narrow bill that slips easily into...

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Hummingbirds

Discover the Amazing World of Hummingbirds with Stan Tekiela The hummingbird family, known as Trochilidae, includes more than 325 species. Compared with the other bird families, this one is huge! It is the second largest in size after the flycatcher family, which has around 400 species. Hummingbirds are New World birds found only in North, Central, and South America. These tiny flying jewels were unknown to the scientific community until the Old World explorers arrived. The wide variety of hummers must have mystified the early ornithologists. Even today, the reasons for the large number of species are still not known. None So Fair North American hummingbirds are some of the most easily recognized birds, characterized by many unique features. These petite treasures are well known for their specialized, brightly colored, sparkly feathers, which refract sunlight almost like a prism. Unlike most other birds, hummers enjoy a distinctive diet of nectar liberally seasoned with minute insects. For sipping their sweet drinks, they sport a long, narrow bill that slips easily into...

Read More