Enjoy winter: Birds in your backyard

Heather Taylor of Maryland took this photo of a Northern Cardinal during the 2010 Great Backyard Bird Count. (Photo courtesy of GBBC / Heather Taylor)

The Great Backyard Bird Count begins Friday and runs through Monday. Free for bird-watchers of all ages and skill levels, the GBBC lets observers note what kind of birds can be seen in the winter and whether there are fewer (or more!) of them.

All you do is count birds at your favorite location for at least 15 minutes on one or more days during the GBBC, and then record the results at www.birdcount.org.

You can also join other bird-watchers at Richard M. Nixon County Park in Springfield Township. Staff and volunteers at the Nature Center have planned events and displays throughout the weekend for the novice to experienced birder. It’s also a great opportunity for a family looking for an educational mid-winter activity.

Read on for the park’s offerings Saturday and Sunday.

  • 8:30 to 10:30 a.m., Saturday: Birding with Bagels. Enjoy a walk along the trails of Nixon Park to search for winter birds with parks volunteers Robin Smith and Anne Muren. Dress for the weather and bring binoculars and field guides. Lending binoculars will be available. Participants may enjoy coffee and bagels at the Nature Center after the walk. Recommended for ages 12 and up. $2 per person, register at 428-1961.
  • 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Saturday: On the Wing. The Maryland Zoo presents an educational and interactive program about the Earth’s amazing bird diversity featuring live birds. This is a sit-down classroom style program. Best suited for ages 5 and up. $2 per person, register at 428-1961.
  • 2:30 to 4 p.m., Saturday: Bluebird Box Workshop. Participants will be introduced to the interesting behavior of the Eastern Bluebird and will construct a bluebird nesting box to take home. A great activity for kids age 8 and up and parents to do together. $10 per box, limit 2 boxes per family, register at 428-1961.
  • 1 to 2:30 p.m. Sunday: Bluebird Box Workshop. A second chance to construct a bluebird nesting box to take home. See details above.
  • 2:45 to 4 p.m. Sunday: Family Bird Walk. Have you ever watched a chickadee hanging upside down on a poison ivy vine? Join Park Naturalist Kelsey Frey on a slow hike through the winter woods in search of wild birds. Bring your own or borrow a pair of binoculars. This program is recommended for parents, grandparents, and children ages 8 and up. Register at 428-1961.

As the cold sets in and that couch calls your name, Smart magazine encourages you to enjoy winter for all it offers. From outdoor activities like skiing and hiking to cozy indoor ideas like making your own hot cocoa, we’ll offer a tip each Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday through March.

Sarah Chain

I'm an avid reader and book lover living and working in downtown York. Follow me on Twitter at @sarahEchain.

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