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Be A Bird Friend

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Bring birds into your life to make every day a Happy Bird Day by joining Geauga Park District Naturalist John Kolar, Senior Naturalist Dan Best, and Helen Hempal, owner of For the Birds, Wildlife and More in Chardon, on Saturday, February 16, from 1 to 4 p.m. at The West Woods Nature Center in Russell Township.

Your time will be divided into three one-hour segments: Backyard Birds of Winter, introducing the species you may see; Bird Feeding Basics and Beyond, introducing a variety of feeder types; and Bird Housing, introducing a variety of nest box designs for birds ranging from wrens to wood ducks.

You can reap some bird bonuses, WHILE SUPPLIES LAST, which include making a sturdy plastic jaw Chickadee house, making a bag of super seed mix, and a free bird booklet and bird song CD courtesy of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

The West Woods Nature Center is located at 9465 Kinsman Road in Russell Township.

Of course guests will also enjoy The West Woods’ feeding station through a giant bay window and find out how armchair bird watchers can contribute valuable scientific data to Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology’s FeederWatch throughout the 16th annual Great Backyard Bird Count.

What’s that, you ask? Drop into The West Woods any time Friday through Monday, February 15 through 18, between noon and 4 p.m. to help put Geauga County on the map with this national count.

The Great Backyard Bird Count engages bird watchers of all ages in creating a real-time snapshot of where birds are across the continent. Because bird populations are constantly in flux, scientists use these counts to produce an immense picture of our winter birds.

Each year’s data becomes more meaningful and allows scientists to investigate far-reaching questions: How will this winter’s snow and cold influence populations? Where are the irruptive species right now? When will migration happen this year? Are diversity patterns changing? And do any particular species need more conservation efforts? Anyone can participate, from beginning bird watchers to experts.

At The West Woods, Park District naturalists will teach participants the proper way to count with the help of park volunteers. Among surprises may be the Common Redpoll or Pine Siskin, visitors from the north that have been showing up sporadically in our area this winter. The nature center feeders daily host a variety of woodpeckers, winter sparrows, finches and perhaps more cardinals than you have ever seen at one time.

“When we count the birds, we try to record the highest number of a particular species we see at one time – this is why more than one set of eyeballs is a good thing!” said Naturalist Linda Gilbert.

Those on hand will see a running list of birds seen at The West Woods, either at the feeders or elsewhere on the property, as well as learn the most successful types of seeds and feeders to use at home.

Can’t make it? Participate from the comfort of your own yard between February 15 and 18, and enter your data on the project’s official website, http://birdsource.org. It takes as little as 15 minutes on one day, it’s free, fun and easy – and it helps the birds.

Registration is not required for either of these all-ages programs, which are fully wheelchair / stroller accessible. Call 440-286-9516 with questions.