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Earth Day Volunteering at the Schrader Center — April 20, 2013

IMG_1225Like the outdoors? Want to spend a little time helping improve the exterior grounds at the local nature center?

Schrader Center staff will host a volunteer work event in honor of Earth Day on Saturday, April 20 from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm at the Schrader Center. We’ll be pulling privet, and other invasive species, planting trees and clearing walkways, cleaning up around the butterfly garden, and more! We encourage volunteers all of ages to participate for any amount of time! 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 complimentary.

Bird Walk — We’ll start the day out with a morning bird walk hosted by Brooks Bird member and Bethany College Professor of Biology, Jay Buckelew, from 9:00 -10:00 am. Meet in the lower parking lot of the Schrader Center near the trail head a few minutes before 9:00 am.

observatoryatoglebay

Astronomy Day Activities — Other activities include Oglebay Astronomy Club’s Astronomy Day program with two sessions. The daytime session will be held from 1:00 to 4:00 pm at the Speidel Observatory and includes solar viewing (weather permitting– many sunspots are currently visible), meteorite display, space science demonstrations and activities, and Speidel Observatory tours. The nighttime session will be held from 8:00 to 11:00 pm, also at the Speidel Observatory, and will include telescope astronomy (weather permitting–Jupiter is spectacular now!), night sky tour of the constellations and special Speidel Observatory tours.

Call the Schrader Center at 304-242-6855 for more information.

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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.

Prunus_serotina

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.