Kayci Evans, 9, of Joplin, went around with her grandmother, Cyndi Cogbill, and Evans’ two cousins, Lexi Evans, 8, and Bailee Evans, 6, as part of the Christmas Bird Count for Kids held Saturday at the Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center, Joplin.
“This is my third time to the bird count event,” Kayci said. “We counted 20 species of birds.”
The annual event started at 9 a.m. with a “birding boot camp,” where children ages 7 and up learned the basics of identifying birds and using binoculars. Then around 10 a.m., the children were broken up into groups with an experienced bird watcher to go outside and walk around and count the different bird species. Two hours later, they came back to the center to give the totals, have lunch and do some other activities such as make bird feeders using peanut butter and pinecones.
Kayci said the chickadee is her favorite bird.
“I like its call,” she said. “They eat bird food, corn and sunflower seeds.”
Cogbill was one of the experienced birders who led a group of children.
Of the 20 bird species, Cogbill said they saw a belted kingfisher.
“It is near water, it is sort of an unusual shape, it is bigger than a cardinal, maybe crow size, but it has a pretty large head.” Cogbill said. “It has beautiful coloration, kind of a blue flash on it and they make a rattle sound and they will fly up a river. If you are canoeing, they will go in front of you and rattle rattle down the way.”
The temperatures for the walk was around 40 degrees but windy.
“It is hard to birdwatch when it is windy,” said Cogbill. “You look for movement and birds will hunker down, get into the brush and grass when it is windy. So we would hit pockets of birds, which is very typical of this time of the year. You might get a big group of birds together in a feeding group.”
Cogbill said the children did very well during the bird watch.
“They were getting the hang of putting the binoculars up to their eyes, instead of trying to move their eyes to the binoculars,” she said. “And they were picking up on sounds and just movements, I think they enjoyed it.”
Cogbill got involved with bird watching at an early age.
“I have always been interested in birds since I was fairly young,” said Cogbill. “My grandmother was interested in birds, I joined the local Audubon chapter years ago and worked at a professional level where I actually conducted bird counts so it has just grown over the years.”
On Saturday, she opted to bring her grandchildren.
“Today, I brought my grandchildren with me so they could start learning birds as well,” said Cogbill.
There are only a few things needed to do bird watching.
“You can certainly do it without a book, or you can do it with a book, I have several of them now,” said Cogbill. “There are lots of apps for your phones, then you don’t have the weight of the books, so it depends on your technology level. Even a fairly cheap pair of binoculars would get you started.”