By Meghan Keely
Herald Staff Writer
A dozen local bird enthusiasts flocked to Munnell Run Farm outside Mercer Thursday evening to learn about “backyard birding.”
The night flew by as the farm’s environmental educators, Jacqueline McCullough and Chris Mosebach, gave a presentation on the 20 different winter birds native to the area and their feeding preferences.
As the bird watchers migrated into the Pig Barn, now the education center of Munnell Farm, they chirped about their love for the winged creatures and shared their advice on feeding.
One participant suggested making your own suet – animal fat that is easily digested and metabolized by many birds – saying it saves money and the birds enjoy it more.
“The main theme for tonight is winter feeding,” McCullough said. “We are going to go through a pictorial journey of the common winter birds, their characteristics, their sound and their feeding preferences.”
Throughout the presentation the environmental educators offered up their own advice on bird watching and feeding, as the participants asked questions and gave tips of their own.
“Interesting fact is the mourning dove likes millet though a lot of other birds don’t,” McCullough said. “They keep a substantial amount in their gizzard and then will swallow a few pebbles to help break up and grind the millet. So if they seem as if they hang out all day it is because they will sit all day and digest the food.”
The youngest ornithologist in the crowd, Leah Hostetler, 9, of Mercer, said she began liking and watching birds thanks to her grandfather.
“My grandfather gave me the bird book and that is how I got interested,” Hostetler said. “I have liked birds for awhile now and I learned a lot tonight. My favorite birds are chickadees, owls and blue jays.”
Several of the participants in the program were married couples who enjoy bird watching together.
“My husband and I feed birds and we get all excited about it,” said Gloria Kane, of Mercer. “We have a heated bird bath and the birds are still getting into it in this cold. I love learning about birds and being able to identify the ones that we see. This is something my husband and I do together.”
Scott and Darlene Patterson, of Fredonia, said they live in the country and bird watching is one of their favorite hobbies to do together.
“We really enjoy feeding and watching the birds together. This was a really good program tonight and we are really glad to have such an organization and programs on the environment available in this area,” Scott said.
Munnell Run Farm contains 163 acres of cropland, woodland, pasture and forested wetland. It is owned by the county and managed by the farm’s foundation.
The mission of the foundation is to become a destination for various residents and organizations to explore and discover the interrelationship between agriculture, the natural and cultural environments and the economy.
The farm offers various courses on many topics throughout the year.
“We try to hold as many programs as we can,” Mosebach said. “Basically anything people are interested in and has to do with the outdoors or environment.”
For more information on Munnell Farm Run or any of their programs, visit www.munnellrunfarm.org