KIDS COUNT CITY BIRDS
Naturalists start club
A dozen children searching for feathered friends descended on Ojibway Park on a crisp Saturday morning, to take part in a local naturalist club’s first Christmas Bird Count for Kids. Members of the Essex County Field Naturalists’ Club, the event’s host, guided families through the park’s prairie land, teaching them the best places to look for birds and how to identify them once they ’ve been spotted.
Field Naturalists’ Club board member Kory Renaud said the Christmas bird count — which organizers want to become an annual event — was more fun with children than with avid adult birders. “The kids are very enthusiastic,” Renaud said after the walk. “A lot of them don’t get out into nature as much as they probably should. This is a great opportunity for them to get out, especially in the winter.” Kids held binoculars to their eyes with mitten-clad hands to get a better view of the little creatures flittering around them. To make it easier to name the different species, many kids wore laminated pages around their necks, featuring pictures of common birds in Windsor and Essex County. The group saw 17 species. According to several young participants, a red-tailed hawk perched near the trail and a few tufted titmouse sightings were the highlights of the morning. Feeding sparrows and other birds by hand also topped the list.
“I was surprised how many birds there are here,” said Sheila Gordon, who brought her five-year-old grandson, Calum Clark,. “It was amazing to me. I thought we’d see a few, and just right outside the centre here there must have been 50 birds in one bush.” Calum had a lot of fun, Gordon said, though he preferred to place bird feed on the ledge, rather than entice the animals to land on him. “I’d definitely bring him back,” she said.
Saturday ’s event was the first of several the club’s members hope to hold for young nature lovers in a junior naturalist program, Renaud said.
“We’re looking to tailor some outings and activities more toward the younger generation, where we can instil in them the importance of nature and what’s in our backyards,” Renaud said.
The Essex County Field Naturalists’ Club is a non-profit volunteer organization aimed at conserving and restoring regional wildlife. Kids who join can participate and learn from experts as they go, Renaud said.
Jeremy Bensette, another member of the club’s executive board, said he was glad to see so many kids come out for the first event. “Kids get an interest in wildlife, but so few of their peers are into it that it’s easy to fall off that track,” Bensette said. “I like to think this is a nice chance to meet other kids who are also interested, and motivate each other to keep going with it.”
David Flett, 5, and Emily Renaud, 5, were among about a dozen children who came out to Ojibway Park on Saturday to participate in the first of an expected annual Christmas Bird Count for kids.