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ChickadeeHub Staff

If you have a love of birds and want to learn more about them this March Break, then MacGregor Point Provincial Park is the place to be.

A series of events throughout the week, all with a birding theme, will take place or start at the park's Visitor Centre. “We're hoping everybody's gearing up for Spring and we just thought we'd stick with a single theme this year,” said Matthew Cunliffe, Senior Park Naturalist for MacGregor Park.

A 'Birding for Beginners' family hike will take place on Tuesday, March 15 at 2 p.m. and also on Saturday, March 19 at 10 a.m. The hike will give those in attendance the chance to learn about local year round birds and how they survive the winter months. They'll also learn about identification techniques, unique bird behaviours and common calls.

Cunliffe said that it's a family orientated hike for individuals that want to learn a little bit more about bird behaviour. “We'll be looking at field guide selections, how to operate binoculars and then going for a short hike along the boardwalk to ID birds by sight and by sound.” Cunliffe added that the birds that are likely to be seen will be some of the park's four season birds as it's a little too early for the migratory birds.

Cunliffe said that typical birds they would hope to see are Red Breasted and White Breasted, Northern Cardinals and Blue Jays. “Black capped Chickadees will be out there in droves so that's kind of the iconic bird, the primary one that I focus on and we branch off from there,” he said. “Some of those birds that everybody knows the name and try to learn a little bit more about them.”

An evening hike at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, March 16 will take you on an 'Owl Prowl'. “We'll be calling for Eastern Screech Owls and Great Horned Owls,” said Cunliffe. “We'll talk a bit about nocturnal adaptation of those birds and what they eat, how they behave.” He added that the owl calling is weather dependent though as if it's too windy or raining or too cold then the owls won't call back.

“Depending on the weather we'll be stopping at one or a few different locations and we'll be calling for owls and owling by ear. So we'll get to hear an iconic owl if we're lucky, the Great Horned Owl and one that sounds different from your iconic hoot, the Eastern Screech Owl.”

On Friday, March 18 at 2 p.m. there's a chance to make a bird feeder. “We'll be focusing on suet feeders and we'll be discussing the importance of suet for birds that stick around all year,” explained Cunliffe. “So we won't be bringing out the drill or the hammers but it's more a recipe that families can make at home for very little and using a lot of reusable resources just from around the house,” said Cunliffe.

Other activities are also available throughout the week. “There'll be a scavenger hunt that will be set up beforehand that involves some trivia facts, so there's a lot of learning for the kids as well as some fun little puzzles for the kids to do and it all has to do with winter survival - so migration, hibernation and some of those animals that stick around all year.”

As well everyone will have the chance to feed some of the local birds. “I've got a handout ready for what seeds different birds prefer and then my preference - what I've come to use over the years of working here,” said Cunliffe.

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