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The nest of a gray catbird, which may be spotted at the scavenger hunt. Courtesy photo.




Birds and Blooms Scavenger Hunt

When: Sunday, May 24, 9 a.m. to noon 
Where: Beaver Brook Association Nature Center, 117 Ridge Road, Hollis 
Cost: Free. RSVP, if possible, to nhyoungbirders@gmail.com
Visit: nhyoungbirders.org




Searching high and low
NH Young Birders Club has Birds and Blooms Scavenger Hunt

05/21/15
By Angie Sykeny asykeny@hippopress.com



It isn’t hard to find New Hampshire wildlife this time of year. Simply look around and you’re bound to see a bird soaring the skies or flower blossoms at your feet. But have you ever wondered exactly what kinds of birds and flowers you’re seeing? On Sunday, May 24, from 9 a.m. to noon, the New Hampshire Young Birders Club will host its first annual Birds and Blooms Scavenger Hunt at the Beaver Brook Association Nature Center in Hollis.

“The idea is to combine a search for these flitting, restless, never-in-one-place migratory birds with something we know will be there, which is wildflowers,” said Henry Walters, coordinator and teacher for the NH Young Birders Club.
The scavenger hunt is open to all kids, teens and parents. Participants are asked to bring their own binoculars and wear appropriate hiking shoes. Upon arrival, hunters will be put into teams and given field guides that were made specially for the hunt. The guides will contain photos and descriptions of the birds and wildflowers the hunters can expect to see. Teachers from the Young Birders Club will lead the teams in their searches, but they will not be identifying the wildlife. The team members will have to work together to match what they see with the photos in the guide. When they find a plant or animal from the guide, they can check it off their list. The hunt is not competitive, and everyone will receive a bird-related prize for their efforts.
Some birds on the checklist will include bluebirds, brown thrashers, Eastern towhees, yellow warblers, chestnut-sided warblers, great blue herons and red-tailed hawks. Walters said there could be as many as 60 to 70 different species of birds to see that morning.
For flowers, hunters will be looking for pink lady’s slipper, yellow clintonia, bunchberry, bullhead lily, yellow woodsorrel, rose twisted stalk, blue-eyed grass and blue flag iris.
The New Hampshire Young Birders Club is a statewide organization for kids up to age 18 who have a passion for birds and the outdoors. The Birds and Blooms Scavenger Hunt is one of 20 to 25 events the club puts on each year.
“We try to bring kids and their families to different parts of the state, to habitats, parks and wild places they might not otherwise get to see,” Walters said. “Our hope is to get kids outside, get them excited about the environment, and one doorway into that is through birds and birding.”
The scavenger hunt is the club’s first event held at the Beaver Brook. Walters said Beaver Brook is an ideal place for the hunt because of its diversity of habitat, which includes wetlands, woodlands and open fields.
The club also partners with organizations like the New Hampshire Audubon, Squam Lakes Natural Science Center and the Harris Center for Conservation Education. Members are encouraged to contribute to the birding community through hands-on activities like bird banding and monitoring. The scavenger hunt, while a fun and educational event, also serves as a survey of the wildlife at Beaver Brook.
“We’re trying to put kids in the roles of citizen scientists,” Walters said. “We want them not to be passive observers, but active participants, appreciating the land and developing land ethics.”
Those who enjoy the scavenger hunt are invited to join the club, which, for a $25 yearly membership fee, offers members a birding field guide and access to all club events. The club’s next New Hampshire excursion is a trip to the Loon Center in Moultonboro on Saturday, June 20, where the young birders will head out on the water with a biologist to observe loons.
For Walters, the best part of the field trips is seeing the kids’ excitement when they see something in wildlife for the first time.
“It’s thrilling when they see something they’ve never seen and realize it’s been under their nose their whole lives,” Walters said. “It’s not just a bird you saw at the zoo. It’s something you yourself have discovered, and that’s what makes it memorable.” 
 
As seen in the May 21, 2015 issue of the Hippo.





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