BLM, Audubon showcase rescued birds

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (AP) — It was a lighthearted moment as U.S. Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologist Carrie Hugo measured the "wingspan" of an interested 6-year-old Saturday afternoon.

The youngster stretched out her arm as Hugo held up the tape measure.

"What's your name?" Hugo asked.

"Chloe Bird," the little girl replied, causing Hugo and those watching to share a laugh.

It was International Migratory Bird Day, after all.

The Bird family, of Coeur d'Alene, joined several other families who visited the Blackwell Island Boat Launch to acquire avian education and entertainment at the second Migratory Bird Day event.

Presented by the Coeur d'Alene Audubon Society and the BLM, the free event included several stations where people could learn about birds and discover them in their habitats along the Spokane River.

One segment of the festivities was a live bird show that featured a great horned owl, a falcon and a barn owl.

"I liked hearing about the raptors," said Chloe's brother, Jack, 12. "How even though falcons and owls are almost exactly alike, one has very fast wings and the other one's slower, but it's quieter."

"The owls are quieter because of the way their wings are put together," added mama bird, Diana.

Cassidee Smidt, 13, of Coeur d'Alene, also was spending Migratory Bird Day with her family.

"The bird show was really interesting because I have to write a poem about a bird (for school)," she said. "The pellets (too), we got to see what was inside of them."

"I think it's nice to come to a free event in Coeur d'Alene that's educational and fun," said Cassidee's mom, Tracie. "It's so important to us."

Cassidee's aunt, Jamie Woods of Coeur d'Alene, agreed.

"I just think we're fortunate to live in an area that provides this kind of education, and has this environment that we can have the experience," she said. "We don't have to just hear about it, we can see it."

Other activities included guided bird walks, a hummingbird feeder project, a birdhouse sale, feather painting, a peanut butter pine cone feeder project and a bird banding station where Hugo educated attendees about how scientists keep track of migratory birds.

"I think that the Coeur d'Alene area and the Inland Northwest is really blessed with a huge diversity of birds, and a lot of people don't know it," Hugo said. "Part of the reason, not only because we want people to enjoy birds and hopefully eventually become advocates for birds, but just to learn what's out here. There's so many different species out here, and if you really get into it and start learning their songs and calls, it really enhances your outdoor experience."

So keep an eye out for warblers, osprey, flycatchers and the spotted towhee, because migratory birds are here to stay (for now).

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Information from: Coeur d'Alene Press