Thursday, July 5, 2012

Nature Journaling

Mourning doves building nest
It seems that I have had the great good luck lately to be a witness to one of the great events of summer in the bird world....nesting and raising young. Depending on the bird species, fledgling birds can already be seen foraging with their parents. Robins, starlings and house sparrows are among the earliest nesters. Others, like American goldfinch, are just getting started because they wait until the thistles are in bloom to collect the down for their nests.

This year my Sunburst locust tree has been chosen not once, but twice, to support the nests of a pair of lesser goldfinch and a pair of mourning doves. I discovered the goldfinch nest a few weeks ago when I heard a lot of tiny cheeping going on. It took a while to locate as the birds had pulled some of the leaves around the tiny 3" cup of grasses, moss and plant down and it was well hidden. The cheeping I heard was the female calling to her mate to bring her food.
Female lesser goldfinch on nest

 Lately, the cheeping has become quite loud and insistent as the babies have hatched and boy, are they hungry!

The mourning doves showed up last week and took a lot of time choosing a site to place their very loosely constructed nest of twigs and grasses. It took them three days of looking at the "real estate" and the site they chose is in plain view from my living room. I can have my morning coffee and keep tabs on their progress. 

All the interesting activity has prompted me to start a "nature journal/sketchbook." I had been thinking of starting one for some time as it's a great way to practice drawing, record ideas and document all of nature. It's also a great way to relax because there are no rules on how things need to look so it can be messy or neat, colored or not, include notes or just be a quick drawing. You can be like a kid again with your box of crayons and paper and it was a favorite pastime of mine when I was a child. 
Mourning dove sketches
 As you can see it is a little messy looking, but, hey, I'm enjoying the heck out of doing it! Sketching is often better than taking a photo because it causes you to slow down and really look at something. And a sketch is so much more personal because you can rearrange things to your liking and how you sketch becomes like your signature, as individual as you are. I have shared mine with you, but your nature journal need never be seen by anyone, but you if that's what you'd like. 

So, I would encourage you to give nature journaling or sketching a try. If you enjoy watching and learning about nature it can be a wonderful practice. I will be sharing more of my journal in the coming days and weeks so be sure to check back soon for that and updates on the progress of my feathered friends.