Bird-watching tour set to take flight

Posted: Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Many take pleasure in watching the feathered denizens of their neighborhoods frolic in the yard or nibble seed from a feeder, but identifying the various avian species can be tricky for those new to bird-watching.

That's where Ken Marlow comes in.

The river guide and lifelong birder will lead a workshop about identifying birds by sight and sound as part of the Kenai Watershed Forum's summer program series.

"There's good birding in our area, and there's always interest in it," he said.

The workshop begins at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Marlow's on the Kenai. The walk will investigate the different types of bird habitats and focus on the species that live there.

"We'll start on the river bank here and then move into the forest," Marlow said. "Then, if there's time, we'll head up to Bing's Landing and continue to walk and talk and enjoy some birds."

Marlow said birding in the area has been good as of late. He took a group of tourists on the river last week and many in the group were able to see some of the species they've had on their must-see list.

"They really enjoyed the birding," he said. "They saw red-throated loons, long-tailed ducks, wandering tattlers, a Northern three-toed woodpecker and even a Bo-hemian waxwing."

The waxwing is a rare species for this location in winter, and almost unheard of during this time of year, he said.

It is perks such as those that Marlow enjoys. He said he likes sharing his enjoyment of watching birds and likes to give people their start in the popular hobby.

Marlow said the workshop is open to anyone, from the beginner just starting out to the seasoned professional.

He said he expects to see between 20 to 50 species during the trip, including a variety of warblers, waterfowl and shorebirds, but he admitted that birding can be hit or miss from one day to the next.

His advice to those just starting out is to bring binoculars, some comfortable shoes and mosquito repellent -- just in case.

Anyone interested in participating, needing directions or interested in more information, can call 260-5449.

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