Looney Nature Study

Nature study in our homeschool turned a little loony this week. And it was spotty. And uncolorful…

Our Backyard Book page about loons

The lake who stretches her clear waters out northward from the base of our slopping property supports an array of wildlife and picture-perfect sunsets…

sunsets and loons

Our magic little lake attracts majestic morning mist.

loons and morning mist

The fog surrounds any neighbors we happen upon during an early-morning skiing session.

loons and morning skiing

Numerous aquatic flowers stretch out through the calm summer afternoon ripples while paddle boarders and kayakers enjoy the serenity.

loons and paddleboards

nature study in our homeschool

And our little lake is a perfect backdrop for nature study in our homeschool.

But some inhabitants–the loons, whom we learned more about this summer–come in minuscule supply.

In fact, loons define the term “territorial bird” to an extreme. The 400 acres of water that our monochrome feathered friends call “home” each summer–the lake waters that stretches out northward from the base of our driveway–aren’t expansive enough for this watchful pair to allow other loons nesting rights in their swimming hole.

loons iambic dots and dashes

The larger bodies of crisp, cool water that are spotted all across New Hampshire’s Lakes Region can support hundreds of loon pairs. In fact, alcoves on Lake Winnipesaukee alone provide nesting spots for more than 280 of the feathered, polka-dotted couples. By the way, if the curious lake name, a Native American name meaning “beautiful water in a high place,” sounds familiar to you, maybe you’ve watched  What About Bob?

But if you’re a local, you know Bill Murray never filmed anywhere near Winnipesaukee. (And the deception is compounded as you watch the characters refer to the town of “Winnipesaukee” throughout the movie, which of course makes no sense since the name itself means “water,” and everyone knows Winnipesaukee is a big, beautiful lake, not a small town.)  The truth is, the leaves were turning fall colors in New England that year before the producers were ready to start filming the movie, so a lake in Virginia provided the warmer temperatures they needed as a summer backdrop for Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss.

Another nearby New Hampshire lake, Squam, was truly the sight of a classic movie that even starred some of the very breed of birds my daughters and I studied this week. Mind you, you may remember Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn a little more than the loons, but all were important characters in On Golden Pond, filmed on Squam Lake in 1981. Squam doesn’t boast the hundreds of pairs of loons that the giant Winnipesaukee can claim, but it does home a few dozen more pairs than our diminutive lake.

Along with the fact that they’re not good at sharing a small body of water with other loons, these spotted fowl are also not good at walking. God designed their feet placement–far back on their body–to be perfect for swimming, but it happens to be impossible for walking. If loons are ever spotted on dry land, they are seen pushing themselves along on their bellies, which is surely why they were originally called “loons,” meaning “lame.”

But there’s nothing lame about their majestic, dashed and dotted, beauty on a lake.

a loon preening

And there’s nothing lame about nature study in our homeschool–at least not this week. Our local loons gave one daughter plenty of material for a new page in Our Backyard Book. If someone in your family would like to learn more about a bird in your backyard, feel free to enjoy this free printable resource–a Backyard Book page that’s truly for the birds.

Our Backyard Book and nature study in our homeschool

Any day now the loons will be heading south, and we will move on to a new page for Our Backyard Book. Then nature study in our homeschool–and our next Backyard Book page–may focus on fisher cats, since my daughters believe a fisher cat was the eerie soloist screaming outside their bedroom window last night.

Be sure to follow along right here, on SoulyRested.com, for more nature study resources! (Just enter your email and click the “FollowThisBlog” in the right-hand column. A few times a month I’ll share tips on Keeping It Simple from my New England homestead.) It’s super easy, and then you won’t miss any of the fun nature study resources that I share here. And—hopefully to be unveiled soon—a complete nature study resource for even the least science-oriented parent (or grandparent) ever. Really.

As soon as you follow along on SoulyRested.com (by clicking “FollowThisBlog” in the right-hand column), you can snag another FREE printable that will get you started on an unbelievably easy, unlimitedly rewarding journey of nature study with a child. And even the least science-oriented parent (or grandparent) ever can dive right in.

And love it.



For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. Romans 1:20

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