For live links, click to: riverhouses.org/2019-accidentals 😊
May is Bird Migration Month in the River Houses, and May is coming to a close. Down in my local riverside park the Song Sparrows are already feeding their first round of begging fledglings, and most of the May arrivals have settled in for the summer.
We think bird study is one of the best subjects you can take up in a homeschool environment, and each May we give it a little extra attention because so many birds are moving all across the North American continent. The wonderful BirdCast website (birdcast.info), sponsored by Cornell University, tracks the continent-wide pattern every year, but within that overall pattern there are always irregularities. If you have a homeschool science student interested in natural history, geography, or meteorology, those irregularities are great topics to investigate.
Every migration season, a small number of European birds will turn up somewhere in North America — we call them “accidentals” or “vagrants” — and understanding how and why that happens is an object of a lot of scientific research. Here’s a great little report to share with your science students this week on some of the accidentals that have recently appeared on North American shores:
- ➔ Recent European Vagrant Species in North America (birdcast.info)
The appearance of these accidentals is now understood to be (most often) associated with a meteorological condition called a “Greenland block” that produces unusual east-to-west weather flows across the North Atlantic. By combining studies of changing meteorological conditions with reports of accidental species occurrences (via eBird.org and other sources), we can begin to understand why, for example, a Eurasian Oystercatcher turned up in Newfoundland earlier this month, thousands of miles from its usual home.
What natural discoveries have you made in your homeschool lately? 😊
❡ Books in the running brooks: Our recommended homeschool reference library (riverhouses.org/books) includes an excellent bird guide that would serve your homeschool well. Many other similar guides are also available — find one that’s a good fit for your family and take it with you on all your outings, whether far afield or just out to the backyard. 🦉
❡ Homeschool birds: Why not track your own homeschool bird observations on the free eBird website sponsored by Cornell University. It’s a great way to learn more about what’s in your local area and about how bird populations change from season to season. 🐦
❡ Nature notes: This is one of our regular Homeschool Natural History posts. Add your name to our free weekly mailing list (riverhouses.org/newsletter) and get more great homeschool teaching ideas delivered right to your mailbox all through the year. 😊