Valentine's Day is for the birds

The annual event starts on Valentine's Day.

Do your sweetheart a favor on Friday: Take the day off and spend some time cuddling up outside in the cold, or in the warmth of a kitchen with a nice cup of coffee while you check out your trees, shrubs, clotheslines, backyard bird feeder or all of the above.

Friday is Valentine's Day, and while we know the day is for lovers, it's also for the birds: The Great Backyard Bird Count, that is.

This 2014 Great Backyard Bird Count runs Friday to Monday, and makes it an ideal time worldwide to sit back, relax and enjoy the local flying friends as they forage their way through this snowy winter.

Whether you're spotting mocking birds, blue jays, cardinals, red-tail hawks or turkey vultures, the bird count can be conducted by everyone and anyone — even the blind! Part of the lure of bird-watching comes from identifying the songs of particular birds, and much of the identification is done through sound.

The GBBC is a worldwide count where anyone anywhere can count birds for at least 15 minutes on one or more of the prescribed days. You can do it over a cup of coffee, tea or cocoa after reading your morning paper or while listening to the morning news.

Using a pair of binoculars can help you to identify the difference between a tundra swan and a trumpeter swan.

The National Audubon Society, Bird Studies Canada and Cornell Lab of Ornithology coordinate the joint project, which set records for participants last year by expanding from North America to worldwide participation.

People who wish to participate can simply count birds they see and how many, and then enter the information online at http://www.BirdCount.org.

The information this year will be particularly helpful in identifying bird irruptions — appearances by birds that don't normally winter in a certain area. Of particular interest this year is the presence of snowy owls, which have already been documented near Hazleton, Luzerne County.

The joint organizations are also interested in seeing the numbers expansion of the invasive Eurasian collared-dove, and whether or not American crows are rebounding following a dramatic toll due to West Nile virus.

For more Valentine's Day (and weekend) ideas, go online to the Lehigh Valley Wild blog at http://www.mcall.com/outdoors.

More for the birds: Daniel Klem Jr., professor of biology and Sarkis Acopian professor of ornithology and conservation biology at Muhlenberg College, will speak on "Bird Strikes at Windows" 7-8 p.m. Feb. 28 at Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center.

Klem is a leader in anti-bird-strike coatings for windows. To register for the lecture, which is the first of the year in Jacobsburg's 2014 Speaker Series, go online to http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us and click on "What to Do," and then "Calendar of Events."

You can also register by calling Rick Wiltraut at 610-746-2801, ext. 103.

Saturday night ducks: The Lehigh Valley Chapter of Ducks Unlimited is holding its annual membership dinner at 7 p.m. Saturday at Northampton Community Center Banquet Hall, 1601 Laubach Ave., Northampton.

The event raised more than $29,000 for conservation last year through raffles, auctions and other charitable donations.

Doors open at 5 p.m. for the dinner, which features oven-roasted chicken and roast pork.

For tickets, contact Todd Wismer at 610-746-4430.

Another fine-feathered friend dinner: The Jerry Zimmerman Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation is holding its 16th annual Hunting Heritage Superfund Membership Banquet at 7 p.m. March 7 at Econo Lodge Conference Center in Allentown, near Routes 22 and 309. Social hour will begin at 5 p.m.

Inside with the outdoors: The new Great American Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, which replaced the old Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show, proved to be a big hit and kicked off the outdoor show season in the region.

The fifth annual Greater Philadelphia Outdoor Show will take place Thursday through Sunday at the Greater Philadelphia EXPO Center in Oaks, just a short drive from the Schuylkill Expressway.

The second Lehigh Valley Sportsmen's Show is scheduled for Feb. 28-March 1 at the Agri-Plex of the Allentown Fairgrounds. The locally produced and promoted show is expanding to three days from its two-day exhibition last year.

The show will feature more demonstrations, seminars, vendors, guides and outfitters than last year, and will include an auction of outdoors-related items by the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association that will benefit outdoors youth education.

Tickets are $10 for adults with children 12-and-under free if accompanied by a paying adult. More information on the seminars and demonstrations will be relayed in an upcoming article.

gary.blockus@mcall.com

610-820-6782

 

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