Birding Cup, native plants highlight spring at Shaver's Creek

With the arrival of spring and the departure of the winter blues, nature lovers and gardening enthusiasts have much to look forward to in the coming months.

To help welcome the warmer months, Shaver's Creek Environmental Center in Petersburg, Huntingdon County, will host two events in early May, a Native Plant Celebration and Sale and the annual Birding Cup, a contest among teams of birders to identify the most number of bird species. Both events raise funds for nature programming.

The Native Plant Celebration and Sale will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 7.

Shaver's Creek, in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Native Plant Society, will offer presentations for backyard gardeners interested in switching to native plants and using conservation landscaping to help preserve the environment. Plant and food vendors, local artists and guided plant walks for families and gardeners will take place throughout the day.

The Birding Cup, an annual fundraising event for Shaver's Creek, will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 6, and end Saturday at 7 p.m.

With names like The Wing Nuts, Bad Optics, and Common Loons, birding teams will compete as they journey through the woodlands and wetlands of Huntingdon, Centre and adjoining counties to identify the most species of birds in a 24-hour period. Last year, the winning team logged in 140 species.

In 2006, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that 42 million individuals in the United States were backyard bird watchers, while 20 million people traveled at least a mile from home to observe and identify birds.

"These upcoming spring events are great for several reasons," said Mark McLaughlin, director of Shaver's Creek. "In addition to the educational benefits they offer to the public, they also serve as fundraisers that allow Penn State's nature center to continue to provide environmentally sound programming for schools, children, youth, teachers and the community."

Collection jars labeled with the names of the Birding Cup competitors will be available at the Native Plant Celebration so backyard birders and others may make direct donations.

For more information, go to http://www.outreach.psu.edu/shaverscreek/ or call 814-863-2000.

Shaver's Creek Environmental Center has spent 30 years striving to help people and communities learn to live in harmony with our natural environment that supports all life. Shaver's Creek Environmental Center is part of Penn State Outreach, the largest unified outreach organization in American higher education. Penn State Outreach serves more than 5 million people each year, delivering more than 2,000 programs to people in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, all 50 states and 114 countries worldwide.

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Last Updated April 18, 2011