Under sunny skies, some two dozen observers armed with binoculars arrived Saturday afternoon, Feb. 18 at the New Weis Center for Education, Arts & Recreation in Ringwood for the annual Great Backyard Bird Count, where everyone became a citizen scientist for the day.
During the 90-minute tour, senior educator and naturalist Erica Garfinkle reviewed basic bird identification and binocular use and led the enthusiastic group through the sprawling 152-acre wooded grounds to identify and count birds, which included a bald eagle.
The group was among people throughout the world collecting data Feb. 17-19 for Cornell University and other scientific research teams to use in monitoring, understanding and protecting bird populations.
Among participants at Weis was Alexandrea Warren, 11, of West Milford who demonstrated her wildlife knowledge and bird-sighting skills.
“We saw well over 15 different species of birds and now I know that there is such a thing flying around as a black vulture,” said Alexandrea, who goes by Xander.
“I can’t wait to go back for another fun event at Weis. The educators are so nice and I love the beautiful trails too.”
The center offers a wide range of year-round nature-based and environmental education programs and events for people of all ages, including school field trips, homeschool classes, teen and tween programs, and nature day camps during school breaks and summer.
Weekend maple-sugaring programs are scheduled through mid-March.
An Earth Day event is planned for Saturday, April 22; it is free and open to all.
Anne Siebecker, the center’s executive director, said, “We are so happy and grateful to serve communities across the region and to provide opportunities to learn about and connect with the natural world.”
Additional programs include camping, fire circles, badges for the Scouting community, wilderness skills, music and community theater, and internship programs.
The center is at 150 Snake Den Road in Ringwood.
For information, go online to www.highlandsnaturefriends.org or call 973-835-2160.