The grandkids were here last weekend, and it’s safe to say that a good time was had by all! There was a little too much rain for us to do much fishing, but we did get in a bit of rock collecting (more on that next week).

And we enjoyed looking for birds.

You may recall that our back deck has become a favorite dining room for all sorts of birds. My wife and I have had a great time watching the feeder and the bird bath. We’ve picked up a number of bird ID books. We have binoculars for watching the ones that stay a little farther away. We’ve even got a little USB camera that focuses on the main feeder, giving us some high-tech views of some of our feathered friends. We’re learning to identify them (fun in itself!), and we have even taken one more step and put up a couple of hummingbird feeders.

We talked about the hummingbird feeders in a recent column. The two feeders hang right outside our den window. Near them are several containers planted with hummer-friendly plants, too.

For a while, we were not getting any hummingbirds at all. Then, just about a week ago, that changed. First, we would see one every couple of days. Then one every day. Then two…then four…and then, just yesterday, we counted eight separate visits. They’re coming more frequently, and they’re staying at the feeders or the flowers for longer at a time. Apparently, the word is out (“Free food at the Hudson place!), and that’s been really exciting.

The grandkids and I had fun watching the feeders and looking for the occasional hummingbirds, and (like kids everywhere) they quickly became fascinated with all the avian comings and goings. It’s really neat to see kids become interested in something in the natural world, isn’t it!

They also had a blast practicing casting with their new fishing rods. Yes, being the dutiful Granddaddy that I am, I made sure that there were two shiny new Zebco spinning outfits waiting when they arrived.

Because of the afore-mentioned rain, our fishing time was limited to one 45-minute excursion. I must be a good teacher, too, because the grandson hooked a nice bass.

It’s always fun to enjoy the out-of-doors with kids.

And that brings us to…

A correction:

I remember when my own kids were little, we spent a lot of time walking around in the yard and down by the pond looking at things. A favorite thing to look for was always feathers. We’d spot one, and one of the kids would announce its presence. “Look, Daddy! A feather!”

Thanks to the pond by the house, many of those feathers once belonged to Canada geese. Those geese loved the pond, and it was pretty common to see shed feathers (especially during molting season, which is this time of year) laying on the ground.

But that brings us to an “uh-oh.”

Once, I’d have been tempted to pick up that feather. In fact, I talked about picking up feathers in a recent column. Kids (of all ages) seem drawn to them.

But it turns out that you can’t do that. You can’t pick up feathers from most wild birds, including migratory birds such as geese. So says the law.

Say what?

Yes, it is true. I checked with the Department of Natural Resources, asking specifically about the goose feathers, and they confirmed it. No collecting goose feathers. In fact, no collecting of almost any feathers in the wild.

I’m paraphrasing here, but the law says that it’s not okay to collect feathers. So, disregard all that stuff you’ve heard or read about gathering goose feathers out in the wild for use in projects and things. You can’t do it.

Need some goose feathers for a craft project? They’re available for sale in lots of craft and hobby shops. Yes, you can use feathers you buy at the craft store.

But no, you can’t pick up goose feathers from the park or the yard, even if they’re just lying there in the wet grass. Those are from wild birds, and the wild birds (and their parts) are protected.

What do you tell your kids who want to take a feather home? They probably aren’t interested in the details of the statutes and treaties protecting various bird species. That’s too much info and more than most young ones are interested in.

Instead, tell your kids that dropped feathers are part of the natural world. Other creatures may use them (maybe to build a nest or something?), so let’s leave them in place where they are.

Then go home and make some lemonade and grab the binoculars and go birdwatching in a nearby park or even in your yard.

Kids have a way of seeing right to the heart of things, and I’m betting they’ll be fine with that.