“Bird Where You Live” Science on Tap Attracts New and Seasoned Birders

This photo shows two young women, one with a microphone, and a teenage boy behind them. All have binoculars.
Marissa Langager (left) and Amber Wendler introduce their Science on Tap audience to some birding basics. Photos throughout are courtesy of Tatsu Takeuchi.

The place to begin birdwatching? In your own backyard! This was the central message of October’s New River Valley Science on Tap event, “Bird Where You Live.” Virginia Tech biosciences graduate students Amber Wendler and Marissa Langager introduced some basic birding concepts and then set the audience loose on a “common local species” bird scavenger hunt that they had created right outside Rising Silo Brewery.

This photo shows two paper cutouts of birds affixed to a metal pipe.

Some of the birds perched on manmade structures.

This photo shows a paper bird cutout affixed to a metal rod.

The numbers on the birds corresponded to a scavenger hunt form that audience members raced to fill.

This photo shows people peering into a weedy area and writing on pieces of paper.

The Science on Tap speakers had also created a bird identification guide for participants to use as they tried to beat the clock.

This photo shows two paper cutout birds on the ground with some vegetation.

Birds were found in the sort of habitat they normally use.

This photo shows a paper cutout bird.

Some of the participants in the bird hunt had never tried birdwatching before, while others were long-time hobbyists or seasoned professionals.

This photo shows a man stooping to look into some shrubbery and a dog sniffing nearby.

Bird hunters looked everywhere–and some had extra assistance!

This photo shows a group of about 20 people walking down a gravel road.

After the bird scavenger hunt, the group set off for a new challenge: finding live birds going about their everyday bird business. Wendler and Langager handed out binoculars and led the group on a walk through the farmland on which Rising Silo Brewery is located.

This photo shows a number of people looking through binoculars in the same direction.

The sun was beginning to set, but participants scanned for birds in weeds, shrubs, and trees.

This photo shows the black silhouette of tree branches and a woodpecker beneath one branch.

Paper cutout? Or real bird? Participants were excited to see and hear some live birds!

This photo shows a bird in the midst of shrubbery.

The sun cast a golden glow on our bird finds.

This photo shows two people with binoculars looking in opposite directions.

With eyes looking in many directions, participants were able to find and identify a number of local birds.

This photo shows a group of people with binoculars.

And finally darkness descended and we headed back to the brewery to say goodbye.

This photo shows a sunset.

Thank you, Amber and Marissa! Thank you, Rising Silo!

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