Nature Journaling #232: Following Cardinal Directions

Nature journals are a fun way to pass the time. To many Great Parks nature interpreters, they are a tool that fosters meaningful connections with the natural world.

Join us in keeping a nature journal throughout 2021. This is your journal – something to help you connect to the natural world around you and make discoveries along the way.

You can make note of certain things every day, like the temperature and weather conditions, and then work on the prompt we’ve given you. Or you can draw what you find during your nature observation time. Or a mixture of all of those things!

If the weather is too awful to go outside for your nature observation, take a peak out a window from the comfort of inside your home! If you do venture outside, you may want to take a small pocket notebook to make notes or quick sketches to work further with them when you get back inside. Also, use a pencil – ink in a pen could freeze if it is too cold! Any notebook will work for your journal.

The bright red feathers of male northern cardinal contrast against the snow in Winton Woods.

Today’s Prompt: Following Cardinal Directions

Look for cardinals on your walk today. If there is snow, the males will look like their red feathers are even more brilliant against the white of snow. This has to do with the molting of their feathers. In late summer/fall, cardinals go through a molt (getting a new set of feathers). They look kind of ratty during this time, even when the new feathers are fully in. The new feathers are tipped with gray, which rubs off over time. So, by winter, the gray tips are gone, making their feathers look even brighter.

Write about what makes you feel bright and hopeful for this year.

A Few Tips for Success:

  • Work with your child’s attention span. If they aren’t enjoying an activity, allow them to choose a new one. If they are highly focused, give them plenty of time to continue the observations.
  • Allow creativity. Children often have interests that go beyond the questions we pose. Create a safe environment so they can create and explore on their terms.
  • Journal along with your child. You never know what you may discover and it’s a great way to spend some quality time together.
  • Try activities at different times of day. Observations may change with time and temperature.

Want to try your hand at different nature journaling topics? Click here for more prompts.