Natural Lands Trust offering bird’s eye view

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Exclusive workshop series will focus on optimal birding experiences

ImageAnyone with an interest in birding may want to join Natural Lands Trust (NLT) to take advantage of “Your Big Year,” a workshop series that begins in November and is exclusive to its members.

The trust’s connection to birding dates back to 1953 when a group of avid birders joined forces to prevent Gulf Oil from dumping dredging spoils from the Delaware River into the Tinicum Marshes, now the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. From that beginning, Natural Lands Trust has evolved into a powerhouse for preserving open space throughout eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. The trust owns 42 nature preserves totaling nearly 22,000 acres.

“The support of our members is critical to our efforts to restore and maintain habitats on which birds and other native wildlife depend,” says Molly Morrison, Natural Lands Trust’s president. “As a thank you for their support, we’re pleased to offer these workshops and hope they will help to foster our members’ enjoyment of the birds that call our nature preserves ‘home’.”

Throughout the fall and winter, Natural Lands Trust members of all levels may attend a variety of birding workshops. Under the wing of the organization’s seasoned birders, participants will learn to identify the field markings, calls, and nesting habits of songbirds and raptors and discover ways to promote local bird populations and diversity.

Come spring, Natural Lands Trust members will be ready to take flight as knowledgeable birders at a series of birding outings on Natural Lands Trust’s nature preserves. These field trips will take place on the first Tuesday of the month from November to April (with the exception of the first workshop, which will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 6).

NLT volunteers and staff have installed and maintain bird boxes that provide nesting places for bluebirds, chickadees, owls, and – as of last spring – American kestrels. Surveys at Natural Lands Trust’s Hildacy Farm, Stroud, and Crow’s Nest Preserve have yielded sightings of more than 100 bird species at each preserve.

The workshop series will culminate with a discussion of the program and an informal birding challenge to identify the most bird species within one calendar year. Birding experts will share their success stories and offer tips for replicating them.

Natural Lands Trust members can register for the series online at www.natlands.org/yourbigyear, or by calling 610-355-5587, ext. 243. Members can also register for individual workshops in lieu of the whole series; space is limited.

To learn about becoming a member, visit natlands.org/membership. Along with access to the free workshop series, members at the $50 family level and above will receive the 2014 Birds of Natural Lands Trust calendar, which features beautiful photography of some of the native bird species throughout the region.

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