By Kaitlyn Eichelberger
Take a stroll through the West Virginia Botanic Garden, learn about birds and visit with fellow nature-lovers at this weekend’s Young Birders Walk.
Join the West Virginia Young Birders Club at the West Virginia Botanic Garden at 10 a.m. Sunday for a Young Birders Walk. The event will be led by Katie Fallon, executive director of the Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia (ACCA).
The Young Birders Walk is open to children of any age and their families. Beginner birders, including those who have never bird-watched, are welcome.
Participants will take a slow-and-easy walk around the botanic garden, along the looping paths and through the wetlands.
“It’s an easy, low-stress walk to look for birds,” said Fallon.
Although July is a quieter time for birds, as they’ve finished setting up their nests, Fallon expects to see a variety of species.
“Usually, we’ll see bluebirds, some woodpeckers, house wrens and warblers. We might see some fledglings and baby birds out following their parents around,” said Fallon. “Really, we could see anything.”
Participants at the last Young Birders Walk spotted something they don’t see very often — a pair of scarlet tanagers, that likely had a nest nearby.
Beyond birds, attendees will also have the opportunity to appreciate nature in all of its forms. In the past, snakes and bugs have entertained the children who attend.
“[The kids] are always picking up bugs and turning over rocks to see if there are salamanders under them,” said Fallon. “There’s a lot of exploration that happens in addition to looking for birds.”
The West Virginia Young Birders Club is an outreach project of the ACCA. With no other young birders groups in West Virginia, the club’s goal is to offer bird-watching opportunities to children. The hope is to expand within the next five years, hosting events more regularly and welcoming new members.
Bird-watching is a great hobby for people of all ages, involving time spent outdoors and encouraging an appreciation for the planet, organizers said.
“It’s a good opportunity to just get outside and learn more about the other species that we share our ecosystem with,” said Fallon.
Birding also provides experiences that can be used later in life. Bird-watching promotes patience and close observation. Nature photography, wildlife illustration, ornithology and wildlife biology, and veterinary medicine are just a few careers that may have roots in birding.
“There are opportunities beyond just a fun hobby,” said Fallon.
The West Virginia Young Birders Club hosts bird walks once a month or so. These events are usually held at the botanic garden, but have also taken place at Coopers Rock State Forest and the ACCA’s Outdoor Classroom. The next Young Birders Walks are scheduled for Aug. 21 and Sept. 11, both at the botanic garden.
For more information on programs and registration, visit the West Virginia Botanic Garden event calendar at wvbg.org/programs/events. The Young Birders Walks are free and require pre-registration.
Visit the West Virginia Young Birders Club website at WVYBC.org or on Facebook at facebook.com/wvybc.