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Annual Christmas Bird Count at Schrader Center This Saturday

Annual Christmas Bird Count

8 a.m. – 12 p.m. Saturday, December 22
Schrader Environmental Education Center, Oglebay

northerncardinal1.jpgLove birds? Want to see how many you can locate around Oglebay Park? Join the Schrader Center staff and participate in the National Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. Saturday, December 22 at the Schrader Center in Oglebay Park. The longest running Citizen Science survey in the world, the Christmas Bird Count provides critical data on bird health and population trends. We’ll be scouting the area for all types of birds and then submitting our collective data to the Audubon Society’s census.

Help make a difference for science and bird conservation. Participate in the Christmas Bird Count this year. We’ll even provide the snacks and coffee! For more information, contact Greg Park at the Schrader Center, 304-242-6855. You can also visit the National Audubon Society’s website.

Last Trail Maintenance Day for 2012

Last volunteer Trail Maintenance Day for 2012 will be this Saturday, Dec. 15 from 10am-12pm at the Schrader Center. We’re continuing to focus on the removal of invasive exotic species, such as European Privet, and to clean up the trail for visitors. Volunteers should wear long sleeves, work pants and boots. Work gloves will be provided, but volunteers may bring their own. Coffee, tea and snacks will be provided. Call the Schrader Center at 304-242-6855 for more information.

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Winter Activities for the Whole Family

seec king snakeIf you’re in need of something to do over the long months of winter, look no further!

Trek on up to the Schrader Center to participate in many of our fun, family outdoor and indoor activities over the winter! Not only do we have native snakes, turtles and fish that you can see and touch, we have an interactive video game that features a hike in Oglebay’s forest through the eyes of salamander, and even includes a boss fight with a snake! Or, you can fly over the forest on the wings of dragonfly.marcus2

On the first Saturday of the month from 12-4pm, families can discover more about the natural world by participating in our Scavenger Hunts that are free to all ages. Our children’s playroom is always open and filled with puppets, books, puzzles and games that are nature-focused. For the littlest naturalists, we offer youth programs like Preschool Days and Budding Naturalists every other Friday that teach children to act in a caring and responsible way towards their environment, themselves and others with hands-on educational activities.

ScarvesAnd, for the shoppers in the family the Holiday Art Show & Sale, featuring local artisan’s hand-crafted items in a variety of artistic styles is the best place to find one-of-a-kind holiday gifts.

If you can’t make it to the Schrader Center over the busy holidays, here are some ideas for fun, simple crafts that you can do with kids of all ages. They’re easy to do, require minimal supervision and will help get you and the kids in the holiday spirit. Be creative and remember to utilize recycled items around your house such as old ribbons or ties, twisties from bread bags, pine cones from your yard, old socks or material and metal cans.

Enjoy the winter days!

Winter Birding — Less Foliage, Better Spotting

winteratoglebay4.jpgBy Jake Francis, Director of Environmental Education — Have you ever tried to start birding only to be overwhelmed by the shear number of field marks, shapes, and calls of the spring migration? I know that in my case keeping track of every possible spring bird is a huge task to say the least, and one that seems insurmountable to novice birders.  On the other hand, the winter is a spectacular time for beginning birders to hone their identification and spotting abilities on a smaller set of familiar birds.  The lack of foliage and the fact that birds congregate in mixed flocks around fruit-bearing plants makes finding birds and getting a good look at them particularly easy.

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Black Cherry

Start by searching out black cherry trees (Prunus serotina), poison ivy vines (Toxicodendron radicans), and Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quniquefolia), and visit them in the early morning.  You should be able to find Waxwings, Thrushes, Bluebirds, Catbirds, and Warblers.  Additionally beginning birders should look for coniferous trees which attract many northern birds that prefer their seeds.  Some of these northern birds are only in our area during the winter (e.g. Siskins, Crossbills, and Kinglets), and add some challenge throughout the winter.

Cedar Wax Wing

Cedar Wax Wing

Finally there are many winter bird counts that occur during the month of December that give novices a chance to interact with, and learn from more seasoned ornithologists.  This year the Christmas Bird Count, sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, is free to all participants   There are many circles in our area to be surveyed including Oglebay Park (December 22)  and Buffalo Creek (December 16).  Interested parties can contact Greg Park or Jake Francis at the Schrader Center, 304-242-6855, for more information on the counts and birding in general.