Love and lovebirds are in the air at The North Carolina Arboretum this month, with programs and events all month long celebrating our feathered friends and those who adore them.
“Birding is an amazing hobby that is generally accessible to everyone and encourages people to get outdoors,” says NC Arboretum ecoEXPLORE educator Kim Burns. “It’s a wonderful way to make community with other birders, get to know the land better and see how diverse birds really are.”
Both in-person and virtual programming for adults and children provide opportunities for participants to take advantage of the increased visibility of non-migrating birds in winter. Offerings for experienced and novice adults include Intro to eBird and Birdwatching Apps on Tuesday, February 9; Gardening for Birds and Romancing the Birds: Selecting an Avian Mate on Thursday, February 11; and Listening Awe Walk: Tuning in to the Wonder of Birds on Friday, February 26.
“Online students can learn more about how to cultivate sustainable landscapes so that birds and other pollinators flourish in all seasons,” says the Arboretum’s adult education manager Rebecca Caldwell. “In person, they can join a small, masked and socially distanced group at the Arboretum led by one of our birding experts.”
Children are invited to fall in love with birding during ecoEXPLORE’s Ornithology Season, running through the end of February. In this program, families work to earn a variety of nature-themed badges and earn points that can be traded for prizes—all by exploring their own neighborhoods. This science enrichment experience offers challenges, weekly Bird Break videos and virtual skill sessions on its ecoEXPLORE Facebook page and at ecoEXPLORE.net.
The Great Backyard Bird Count, a four-day global citizen science project organized by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, National Audubon Society and Birds Canada, provides an opportunity to help scientists collect data on wild birds. WNC locals are encouraged to get involved by posting observations of the birds they encounter at the Arboretum or in their own neighborhoods.
Adults can attend Intro to the Great Backyard Bird Count, an online class held on Thursday, February 11, as well as small group bird walks (including a bird mist netting demonstration by licensed professionals) at the Arboretum on Saturday, February 13.
“Annual counts like this one have been a valuable tool for learning about bird populations for more than a century,” says Jonathan Marchal, director of education at the Arboretum. “Now they are even more valuable as we see increased habitat loss and effects of climate change impacting bird populations.”
As an incentive, the Arboretum is offering an NC Bird Count patch for those who attend the online class and complete a bird count. For more information, visit BirdCount.org.
For a full listing of programs and activities for the Arboretum’s Love Birds month, or to register for classes, visit NCArboretum.org or call 828.665.2492.