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SELAWIK NWR: Spring Bird WalksAttract Diverse Audience
Alaska Region, June 15, 2011
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Refuge Environmental Educator Brittany Sweeney demonstrates the use of binoculars to Selawik youth. May 2011. Photo by Susan Georgette.
Refuge Environmental Educator Brittany Sweeney demonstrates the use of binoculars to Selawik youth. May 2011. Photo by Susan Georgette. - Photo Credit: n/a
Selawik youngsters watch shorebirds in nearby tundra with RIT Nichole Hanshaw. May 2011. Photo by Susan Georgette.
Selawik youngsters watch shorebirds in nearby tundra with RIT Nichole Hanshaw. May 2011. Photo by Susan Georgette. - Photo Credit: n/a
A preschooler in Kotzebue acquires skills with binoculars and birdwatching. May 2011. Photo by Susan Georgette.
A preschooler in Kotzebue acquires skills with binoculars and birdwatching. May 2011. Photo by Susan Georgette. - Photo Credit: n/a

The multitude of birds that pour into the arctic is one of the most welcome signs of spring in the north. To celebrate this migration, Selawik NWR for the third year hosted a series of daily bird walks in mid-May in cooperation with the National Park Service. A volunteer with Friends of Alaska Refuges led the walks, cheerily sharing her expert knowledge with novices and advanced birders alike. This year the timing of the walks coincided with perfect weather and conditions: although the ocean was still ice-covered, the melting edge of the lagoon, the bare tundra, and the warm sunshine attracted a wide variety of birds. During the four days of outings, the birders spotted 42 species, including snow geese, short-eared and northern hawk owls, and a harlequin duck. More than 40 people participated in the five excursions—a mix of children, adults, long-term residents, new residents, and visitors. In addition, the Friends volunteer and refuge staff took a flock of day care center kids out birding, where they spotted swans, songbirds, and a northern harrier and became familiar with the sound of snipes.

 

In addition to the Kotzebue bird walks, the Friends volunteer and refuge staff traveled to the Iñupiaq village of Selawik to lead bird walks and conduct craft activities with local youngsters for two days. Kids learned to use binoculars, spotted shorebirds and songbirds in nearby tundra areas, folded paper cranes, played a habitat game, designed and decorated fanciful birds, and enjoyed tasty snacks. The refuge information technician in Selawik played a key role in organizing this successful event.

 

The spring birding program is not only a great example of a cooperative effort with the National Park Service and Friends of Alaska Refuges, but also furthers the Service’s priority of “Connecting Kids with Nature.”  We’re looking forward to continuing this project next year!


Contact Info: Susan Georgette, 907-442-3799 ext 16, susan_georgette@fws.gov



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