Spring has sprung, at least for migrating birds on the Kenai Peninsula

Refuge Notebook

Posted: Friday, March 23, 2007


  Join Kenai National Wildlife Refuge staff to learn more about birds on Spring Fun Day, April 14, 2007. Photo by Candace Ward

Join Kenai National Wildlife Refuge staff to learn more about birds on Spring Fun Day, April 14, 2007.

Photo by Candace Ward

Spring is in the air! Our resident birds are beginning their mating behaviors -- woodpeckers drumming on tree trunks, owls hooting in showy cadences and bald eagles pairing up in cottonwood trees. The first of the migrants, elegant white trumpeter swans, have arrived at the outlets of Kenai and Skilak Lakes.

From now through mid-June, a wide array of bird species will arrive to mate and nest using suitable sites from your back yard woods to a wide variety of habitats found on the Kenai Peninsula’s public lands.

Alaska’s wildlife refuges, parks and forests provide breeding, resting and feeding sites for millions of resident and migratory birds. Our state has the right wild real estate to attract arctic terns from Antarctica, common loons from Baja California and Golden plovers from Midway Island in the central Pacific.

If watching for these birds intrigues you, and you want to learn more about them, mark your calendar for upcoming spring bird events at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and other peninsula locations.

The refuge Environmental Education Center will host a new Homeschool Discovery Room Program, “This One is for the Birds,” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. from April 11 through April 13. Through games, crafts, and “hands-on” bird activities, kids will learn about feathers, flight, identifying birds by song, and beak/feet adaptations.

This Homeschool Discovery Room Program is free and snacks will be provided.

If you are interested in participating in this program, you need to pre-register starting on Wednesday with Education Specialist Michelle Ostrowski at 260-2811.

The community is invited to Spring Fun Day on April 14, from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the refuge visitor center and Environmental Education Center. Refreshments are provided and all events are free to the public. They include:

n 10 a.m.-noon (EEC) -- Families with kids of all ages can participate in activities, games, and crafts related to the amazing adaptations and behaviors of birds.

n 10 a.m.-noon (Port Road, Kenai River Flats) -- Toby Burke and Todd Eskelin, refuge biological technicians and bird experts, will host “drop-by” stations with spotting scopes to view waterfowl and shorebirds. Dress warmly, bring your binoculars, and enjoy birding with Toby and Todd.

n 11 a.m.-noon (visitor center) -- Bird Treatment and Learning Center will host a bird “walk-by” with live birds including a great horned owl and a magpie.

n Noon and 2 p.m. (visitor center) -- Academy Award nominated film “Winged Migration” will be shown. This 90-minute film has spectacular aerial photography following bird migrations throughout the seven continents of the world.

12:30-1:30 p.m. (EEC) -- Bird TLC will host a sit down talk with live birds including a magpie and a great horned owl. Learn about these birds in-depth and the important work of Bird TLC from Anchorage.

2-3:30 p.m. -- Todd Eskelin, refuge biological technician and bird expert will guide a ?-mile birding walk on the Keen Eye Nature Trail. Join Todd for an in-depth look at boreal forest birds. Preregistration is required for this walk. Call Candace Ward at 262-7021 to make your reservation.

The 15th annual Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival in Homer runs from May 10 through May 13. This event provides easy roadside viewing of 25 migratory shorebirds, an art and education fair, and special guest speaker John Acorn, the Nature Nut from the Discovery Channel. To get all the details and to register for events visit www.homeralaska.org/shorebird.htm

The third annual Kenai Shorebird Celebration will take place May 16 and May 19. These two days are filled with interesting discussions and fantastic field trips centered on shorebirds. This is great event for both beginner and advanced birders. Sponsored by the Kenai Watershed Forum, contact Josselyn O’Connor at 260-5449 for more information or visit http://www.kenaiwatershed.org/shorebird.html.

Join in these fun, educational birding programs. Discover more about our feathered friends and the importance of Alaska’s public lands to their survival.

Candace Ward is an enthusiastic beginning birder, who works as a park ranger in the refuge’s information and education program. For more information, contact Kenai National Wildlife Refuge at 262-7021.

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