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Welcome back our feathered friends

A songbirds festival will let residents learn about migrant birds that pass through the area this time of year.

By JOY DAVIS-PLATT

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 20, 2001


Visitors will gather to say hello to the black and white warbler and the indigo bunting this weekend as the migratory birds pass through on their way north.

The Chinsegut Nature Center just north of Brooksville will welcome back resident and migrant birds at a Welcome Back Songbirds Festival this weekend. Held in conjunction with Earth Day, which is Sunday, the event boasts a laundry list of events designed to help residents get in touch with their feathered friends.

"If they come early, (visitors) can get a closer look at the birds we catch in the nets," said Kristin Wood, a wildlife biologist at the center who has scheduled two morning sessions on bird banding. "There are more birds out at that time of day, and it is less stressful on them."

During the banding sessions, visitors will have an opportunity to help biologists hold, tag and release wild songbirds after recording information about their lives and travels.

Among the birds nesting in the area are summer tanagers, white-eyed vireos and northern parula warblers. Situated on 408 acres just north of Brooksville, the center is a choice location for seeing the wealth of bird species that come through the area during their annual migration, Wood said.

"There are a lot of things you can do in your back yard whether it's building a birdhouse or planting a nice tree," Wood said. "It doesn't take much effort to be rewarded."

And it isn't just songbirds that migrate through this area. Birds of prey such as eagles, falcons and owls are also an important part of the ecosystem. A birds of prey demonstration by La Guardar Wildlife Center in Webster is scheduled for 11 a.m.

Other activities include children's games, guided hikes along the center's nature walks, a butterfly walk and programs on birds and bugs. Visitors will also have a chance to make cypress bird houses to attract songbirds to their back yards.

"Everything is already cut out, they can just come in and put the pieces together and slap in a few nails," Wood said. "It's lots of fun."

The Welcome Back Songbirds Festival will be from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Chinsegut Nature Center north of Brooksville. Take U.S. 41 north of Brooksville 7 miles, then turn left on Lake Lindsey Road and go 1 mile. The nature center is on the left.

Admission is free. Refreshments, as well as bird and nature-related items, will be available from local vendors. For information, call 754-6722.

Schedule

7:30 a.m.: Bird banding

9 a.m.: Birdlife in your landscape

Birding with Audubon

Bird banding

10 a.m.: Bird Habitat Walk

Butterfly Walk

Neotropical bird games

11 a.m.: Birds of Prey

Building bird boxes

Noon: Bird calling contest

12:30 p.m.: Puppetry

1 p.m.: Birdlife in your landscape

Lecture on bugs

2 p.m.: Bird Habitat Walk

Butterfly Walk

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