Hello to Green Hour! Jenny Ward here, to share another fun and challenging activity to get your kids engaged in all things nature this summer.

Since spring, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to spy on birds nesting in and around my yard. There was the dove couple that made an unsuccessful attempt at a loose stick nest on a narrow ledge above my back door. And recently, the pair of Northern cardinals that successfully created their nest in my curly willow. She’s now incubating her eggs.

I love thinking about bird nests. Birds are AMAZING architects. They build the largest variety of homes of any wild animal species. Some nests are cup-shaped, some are woven, some are baskets, some are domes. Some rest, some hang, some adhere to the sides of walls and under eaves with mud and spit.

Just how do birds build such incredible nests? After all, they don’t have hands. No nimble fingers. No thumbs. Yet birds have the capability to build a secure, sturdy nest that can weather the weather, stand the test of time and support fragile eggs, often at great heights. Think about it!

Here are some fun bird nest activities you might engage in with your child year-round, and regardless of your child’s age.

Go On A Bird Nest Hunt

In the spring and summer, you might locate a nest based on bird chatter coming from a specific source (think hungry chicks!) Note: When you do observe an active nest, do so quietly. Be respectful of a nesting bird’s privacy.

In fall and winter, bird nests are easier to spy among bare branches.

Once you’ve found a nest or two or three, take note of their shape. Is each one the same? What materials were used to build each nest? Are they the same size? Discuss this with your child.

Consider the location of the nests you find. Are some higher than others? Are some easier to spot than others?

The Challenge:

Try to test your own bird’s nest-making skills.

Collect items in nature (such as grasses, leaves, twigs, fiber and mud) that a bird might use to build a home. Challenge your child to try building a bird’s nest with these materials. Try to create one yourself!

Even though we can use our hands, do birds have us beat in the department of nest building?

Happy trails out in nature!

Jennifer Ward is the author of I Love Dirt! and numerous children’s books, all of which present nature to kids. She lives in Illinois. Learn more about her at www.jenniferwardbooks.com.