Bird count gets kids acquainted with nature

Kile Brewer
Posted 1/10/18

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – When wintry weather hits, Floridians take shelter, but Saturday a couple dozen Clay County adventurers headed outside into the cold to be with the birds.

Through its …

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Bird count gets kids acquainted with nature


GREEN COVE SPRINGS – When wintry weather hits, Floridians take shelter, but Saturday a couple dozen Clay County adventurers headed outside into the cold to be with the birds.

Through its Christmas Bird Count for Kids, the Duval Audubon Society hopes to get kids out of the house and into the woods of Camp Chowenwaw, even if it was only for a half-day.

For the past four years the organization has hosted the kid’s version of the society’s bird count. The Christmas Bird Count, adult version, is one of the longest standing ventures by Audubon, with volunteers going out to collect census-like data on birds every year since the early 1900s. In more recent times, the kid’s count came about as a means of spawning volunteers for the next generation’s official count, as well as just getting kids in nature.

“It’s always nice to get kids involved in things outside, especially when so many things today are geared toward being inside,” said Debra Hill Duval Audubon’s CBC4Kids director. “We’re hoping to introduce kids to nature and birding, and we do that by putting them on a trail with experienced birders.”

Hill noted that a lot of people don’t understand birding, but those who do typically love the activity. The day began early with a quick rundown of what is involved in birding. The kids are taught some of the basic types of birds they might see, and the ways to tell similar-looking birds apart. They were also provided with a basic set of binoculars and taught how to use and focus them.

After their briefing, the kids went outside and split into groups led by seasoned birders like Hill. The groups wandered throughout the grounds at the Green Cove Springs campsite. Their birding adventures took them around the various lakes and over the wooden walkways that dot the park. Though the cold weather kept some of the bird count participants away, it might have sparked more bird participants, as the typically bird-lacking January sky was filled with winged visitors of all shapes and sizes Saturday.

Hill said that in typical years they get about 45 participants, but this year kids signed up quicker than they could close the application process. They ended up with 86 signed up, but the weather kept some participants from showing up. However, the interest is there, and next year’s count is sure to be a popular activity.

One group of youngsters who braved the cold, Cub Scouts Pack 802 out of Fleming Island, had several members at the count donning winter coats with their hoods cinched. Den Leader Lisa Stroble corralled the group during the bird count, which she said would fulfill a belt loop requirement for the young Scouts.

“I’m pretty sure none of them have been out using binoculars before,” Stroble said. “Not all of them were excited to come, but since they have been here they’ve gotten into it.”

After the count had taken place, the kids headed back to one of the camp’s main cabins for a presentation by the Jacksonville Zoo Ambassadors.

The event is held annually in the week following New Year’s Day. Those hoping to grab a spot next year would be advised to check the Duval Audubon site early as the spots are expected to fill up quickly as they did this year.


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