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Earth Day celebration not just for the birds

Chinsegut Nature Center's "Welcome Back Songbirds" Earth Day event will feature environmental awareness along with bird-related activities.

By LOGAN NEILL
Published April 22, 2005


BROOKSVILLE - Ever wondered what the name of that little yellow-striped bird that flies past your window every evening? Or what type of warbler is that you hear singing from the trees around when you walk out for the morning paper?

Then the chances are pretty good that you'll be able to find the answers to those questions and more Saturday at the Chinsegut Nature Center's "Welcome Back Songbirds" Earth Day celebration.

The free daylong event, with its nod toward celebrating Earth Day, will include lectures, nature walks and plenty of hands-on activities aimed at familiarizing people with the multitude of bird species that populate Hernando County.

"We're lucky in that this time of year we have a lot of migratory birds in our area that are only here for a short while," said Kristin Wood, a wildlife biologist at the center who has organized the event for the past several years. "It's a fun way for people to get out and learn about our environment."

According to Wood, at any given time, between 50 and 75 bird species can be found throughout the 480-acre wildlife refuge. However, the arrival of spring raises the species count as migratory birds take up temporary residence on their way north. Wood says that visitors are apt to see a number of nonnative warblers, sparrows and buntings they wouldn't otherwise see inside the park.

"As our sandhill restoration project nears completion, we're seeing more of the larger birds using it as a habitat as well," Wood said.

Bird lovers will have plenty of activities to keep them busy during the event. Visitors will be able to learn how to build bird boxes and talk with wild bird experts from around the region. In addition, kids are invited to participate in bird games, puppet shows and wildlife walks. And there will even be a bird calling contest for anyone wanting to mimick favorite feathered creatures.

However, the festival isn't just about birds, Wood said. Many of the day's events center around backyard environmental awareness, including workshops on native plant landscaping and growing flowers and plants noted for attracting wildlife.

"It's a worthwhile way to spend Earth Day, that's relaxing and fun," Wood said. "There will be plenty of things to do for everyone."

Logan Neill can be reached at 352 848-1435 or lneill@sptimes.com

IF YOU GO

WHAT: "Welcome Back Songbirds" Earth Day celebration.

WHEN: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

WHERE: Chinsegut Nature Center on Lake Lindsey Road north of Brooksville.

ADMISSION: Free.

For information, call 754-6722.