Here’s a wonderful public domain book to add to your homeschool.
Bird neighbors: An introductory acquaintance with one hundred and fifty birds commonly found in the gardens, meadows, and woods about our homes is an in-depth book offered through the Internet Archive. It is free, and offered in multiple formats.
Bird Neighbors was first published in 1897, and was written by Neltje Blanchan. The book was reprinted, and an updated version from 1904 is archived online. It features thorough information on 150 types of birds, including size, characteristics of both males and females, range and characteristics.
Although it does not have many illustrations, Bird Neighbors offers charming text about each bird that would really add to nature studies. This text provides additional information not found in modern bird identification books and also a contagious enthusiasm for the birds. For instance, the entry about the pine siskin reads in part:
A small grayish-brown brindle bird, relieved with touches of yellow on its back, wings and tail, may be seen some morning roving on the lawn from one evergreen tree to another, clinging to the pine cones and peering attentively between the scales before extracting the kernels. It utters a call-note so like the English Sparrow’s that you are surprised when you look up into the tree to find that it comes from a stranger. The pine siskin is an erratic visitor, and there is always the charm of the unexpected about it coming near our houses that heightens our enjoyment of its brief stay.
Blanchan goes on to talk more about the pine siskin’s behavior and likes, saying that it dips and floats on the air “like its charming little cousin, the goldfinch.” Each entry has information like this. This makes the book not only valuable for its educational value, but also just a pleasure to read.
Bird Neighbors is divided into sections that give additional information. The individual birds are listed according to color, but there are also sections that group birds according to other characteristics. For instance, the section on habitat lists which birds are most frequently seen on the upper halves of trees, birds that catch their food in the air as they fly, birds that choose conspicuous perches and so on. These lists add another wonderful dimension to bird studies. There are also lists of birds by season and more information.
This is a wonderful book to add to any homeschool. Since it is available in digital format, it can be easily accessed anywhere. Families could also print out sections for nature notebooks.
Bird Neighbors is available as a PDF file, for Kindle, as a flip book, in EPUB format and in many other formats. You can access the book here.