Photo credit to Cleve Dowell and article by Cathy Gilbert of the Manning Times (Page 3)
The Santee National Wildlife Refuge is proud to announce their participation in the 13th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count, Feb. 12-15. This annual bird count is organized by the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology as a way for people of all ages and levels of bird-watching experience to participate in observing birds in their backyard, off their balcony or at their local refuge!
Manning resident Tammy Glaser participated last year with her daughter, Pamela, who is autistic and homeschooled. "We do the Backyard Bird Count because we follow a form of homeschooling (Charlotte Mason) that involves nature study," Glaser explained. "Plus, birds are so fun to watch and sometimes you see some interesting things. And you learn a lot. If it's not freezing cold, maybe we will sit on the back porch rockers since Pamela has an idea of what to expect this year."
Each year, tens of thousands of people throughout the U.S. and Canada take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count. Each checklist will contribute valuable information for conservation, by submitting the data online. The information gathered through this bird count will help scientists understand how the distributions of birds are changing over time.
The Santee National Wildlife Refuge will host an early morning bird walk on Saturday, Feb. 13, starting at 7:30 a.m. as part of the Great Backyard Bird Count. Refuge staff hopes to observe wintering sandhill cranes as well as snow geese from the trail’s observation tower to add to the count tally. Ducks, geese and a variety of wintering songbirds may also be seen. Interested participants should meet at the visitor center.
"We are also encouraging visitors to the refuge to observe and keep track of all birds seen during the 4-day count period," said Susan Heisey, Park Ranger. "Individuals interested in participating can pick up a bird check list at the refuge’s visitor center or information kiosk at the Cuddo Unit and start counting. Not only is the count keeping track of different species seen but also numbers of each of those species."
"Once a person has completed their hike, drive, or bicycle ride around the refuge, they can return their checklist to the refuge visitor center, where staff will compile the sightings of all participants," Heisey said. Individuals must return their checklist to the visitor center no later than Feb. 15 for their count to be included. "If the visitor center is not open when you come by, the refuge will have a box on the front porch for folks to leave their checklists," she added. "Please make sure that participant names and contact information is included."
Santee National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1941 as a sanctuary for migratory birds. The refuge encompasses just over 12,400 acres of habitat along the banks of Lake Marion in four separate units. The refuge visitor center as well as the Santee Indian Mound and site of Fort Watson are located on the Bluff Unit, 8 miles south of Summerton on Hwy 15/301. Santee National Wildlife Refuge is one of 550 national wildlife refuges across the country that make up over 150 million acres of land and water for fish and wildlife conservation. The refuge system offers a variety of outdoor activities, including fishing, hunting, environmental education, wildlife observation and photography. Each year, about 40 million Americans discover the wonders of nature by visiting a wildlife refuge. There is at least one wildlife refuge in every state and one within an hour’s drive of most major cities.
For more information about the Great Backyard Bird Count and visitor opportunities at the Santee National Wildlife Refuge, contact Susan Heisey, Park Ranger, at 478-2217 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.