The Burgess Birds in Detail

Our Family’s Time in The Burgess Bird Book – all the birds!

Burgess Bird Book

We began our time in a Cycle 2 of A Gentle Feast this week and started a new nature study book that you know we are excited about… The Burgess Bird Book. Thornton W. Burgess is so good at capturing the animal life of the forest through his characters. In The Burgess Bird Book, Peter […]

Jenny Wren

We started The Burgess Bird Book this past week with Jenny Wren. Jenny is a common House Wren. I have to admit that I don’t think I’ve ever identified a Wren before, even though they are common over most of the Western Hemisphere. As we read the book and learned more about Wrens, we realized […]

Bully, The House Sparrow

I almost titled this blog post “Bully,” but I realized that may be a bit misleading. What an interesting name for Burgess to name the little house sparrows that we see so often. If you look at a range map for the House Sparrow, you’ll see that they reside in 49 of the 50 states […]

Little Friend

Little Friend is a Song Sparrow in the Burgess Bird Book. He is a little sparrow characterized as the opposite of Bully, hence his name is “Little Friend.” The Cornell Lab notes that, “it’s one of the first species you should suspect if you see a streaky sparrow in an open, shrubby, or wet area. […]


Meet the White-throated Sparrow, a bird who loves the North, but can be found almost all over the North American continent. Of whom Jenny Wren mentions, “he is one of the largest of the tribe (of Sparrows) and has such a lovely white throat. He really is handsome with his black and white cap and […]


Scratcher is a Fox Sparrow, known for his round body and rust brown coloring. Peter Rabbit remarks that: “(t)he only thing I’ve against him is the color of his coat. It reminds me of Reddy Fox, and I don’t like anything that reminds me of that fellow.” The Burgess Bird Book, Living Books Press Edition, […]

Chipping Sparrow

One of the smallest of the sparrow family, Chippy, has a rufous cap. If you love nature study, you may come across the word “rufous” often because so many animals are labeled by this descriptive term. Rufous means reddish brown in color. It can be a really helpful descriptor to keep in mind when you […]

Dotty, The Tree Sparrow

In Chapter 4 of The Burgess Bird Book, Peter explains to Johnny Chuck, who sleeps all winter, that Dotty is a Tree Sparrow who takes Chippy’s place when Chippy flies south for the Winter. Then when Chippy flies north, Dotty goes even more north (p. 19, The Burgess Bird Book, Living Books Press). What’s confusing […]

Sweetvoice, The Vesper Sparrow

Our final sparrow is Sweetvoice, the Vesper Sparrow. The name that Burgess gave this bird, Sweetvoice, and even Vesper have labeled this Sparrow perfectly and here’s why: Vesper Sparrows sing a sweet tinkling song during the day and well into the evening hours—the twilight of vespers, prompting its name… a sweet series of musical slurs […]

The Eastern Bluebird: Winsome

When we first moved to Illinois, one of our closest preserves was the Reed Turner Woodland in Long Grove. Small but diverse, this woodland is comprised of multiple ecosystems and the perfect place to take young children wanting to explore nature. It has become one of our favorite places to explore throughout the seasons and […]

Welcome Robin

I have been excited to write about Welcome Robin for awhile now. In part because Robins have been a part of our bird journey since we arrived in the US as a family in May of 2020. They were the birds that we loved to watch and that we learned about first when we were […]

The Eastern Phoebe, Dear Me

The Eastern Pheobe’s name comes from it’s call- “Phoebe”. Thornton W. Burgess named the Phoebe in his book “Dear Me” because he described it’s called as “Dear me! Dear Me! Dear Me!” Which one do you think fits the Phoebe’s call: The Eastern Phoebe is a Flycatcher, which include a number of birds that feed […]

Chebec, the Least Flycatcher

You can see above all the things we learned about Chebec this term. Chebec… I really like the name that Burgess gave this bird. Since he named it after it’s call, I had to hear for myself: Burgess identifies this call as a repeated use of it’s name, “Chebec, chebec” and so does! Last […]

Scrapper, the Eastern Kingbird

Tough name, right? Scrapper is the Eastern Kingbird in Thornton W. Burgess’ “Burgess Bird Book.” So why is the Kingbird called Scrapper? It seems that they are always looking for a fight with bigger birds who try to prey on smaller birds. Hear how Burgess describes this fellow: A white-throated, white-breasted bird, having a black […]

Cresty, a Lover of Snake Skin

The Great Crested Flycatcher. I love the way that allaboutbirds describes this bird: “A large, assertive flycatcher with reddish-brown accents and a lemon-yellow belly is a common bird of Eastern woodlands. Its habit of hunting high in the canopy means it’s not particularly conspicuous – until you learn its very distinctive call, an emphatic rising […]

Eastern Wood-Pewee

“A little bit bigger than his cousin, Chebec, but looked very much like him,” Peter thought about Pewee, the Eastern Wood-Pewee. He loves to repeat his name. “Pee-wee! Pee-wee!” Give him a listen: Pewee is called the Wood-Pewee because you’ll most often find him in the forest. highlights that “when several flycatcher species live […]

The American Woodcock, Longbill

Here we come to a beloved chapter in the Burgess Bird Book, chapter 9. We fell in love with Longbill, who’s Writing Page you can see above, very quickly and I’ll tell you why… You’ll have to tell me yourself if you can resist his irresistible moves when you see them here: This rocking back […]

Teeter, The Spotted Sandpiper

While reading The Burgess Bird Book, I realized very quickly that I have a soft spot for small birds with long legs. I could watch them for hours. When we lived in Dubai, my husband and I loved to spot Plovers, watching as they circled and diverted our attention, protecting their young. You may not […]

Let’s Meet Around the Spinney

About This:

Our Nature Book this Year is the Burgess Bird Book by Thornton W. Burgess. We love Burgess and his stories and so we tend to linger longer in them than others. This page is dedicated to detailing our discoveries about the North American birds he covers. Check it out and fly with us!

You’ll find our Coloring and Writing Pages for the Burgess Birds here:

Subscribe to My Blog

Get new content delivered directly to your inbox.