On Saturday, December 17, I led a group of junior birders from Rushton on the first of two PA Young Birders Winter Bird Counts this season. We enjoyed a busy morning with a variety of activities to engage the kids in the excitment of winter birding.
The morning began with a brief powerpoint presentation explaining the history of Christmas Bird Counts, which serve as the inspiration for the kids’ Winter Bird Counts, identification of the birds likely to be seen, and how to count species and individuals. Checklists in hand, we bundled up and headed outside to explore the grassland and creek habitat of Kirkwood South.
We stopped to count 63 Canada Geese congregated in a nearby field, and several American Crows flying over. The kids promptly wrote down the numbers, and impressively kept their lists updated throughout the morning. Two Great-Horned Owl pellets were closely examined, along with a large dead Green Darner dragonfly found intact. The kids were thrilled to watch a gorgeous Red Fox hunting in a field and see Red-tailed Hawks and Turkey Vultures soaring in the sky.
The bird feeders hosted Downy Woodpecker, White-breasted Nuthatch, Carolina Chickadee and a nice Hairy Woodpecker attracted to the peanuts.
Back inside, we reviewed our checklist, tallying 22 species and over 225 individual birds – many more than the kids guessed!
Our event had one final highlight as the kids were putting their finishing touches to a peanut butter and seed cone to hang outside for the birds. This was an Eastern Screech Owl that Lisa brought over from Great Valley Nature Center. The kids were delighted to get a chance to see the bird up close.
Thanks to Debbie, Blake, Lisa and Lou for helping make the first PA Young Birders Winter Bird Count for Kids a great success. I’m already looking forward to next year!