Bird in the Hand
Have you ever hand-fed wild birds? From October through April, head to The West Woods to give it a try – in optimal conditions, volunteers have reported as many as 60 chickadees in 20 minutes! (Watch our Facebook or Twitter accounts each fall for the announcement that Bird in the Hand is back for the season.)
- Time your visit for daylight hours and dress warmly with extra layers, hat and gloves, since you will be standing still. Between 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., stop into the nature center to collect some black oil sunflower seed. (NOTE: The larger feeder is gone for the 2020-21 season, though you will notice a “gloved hand feeder” where you can place any leftover seed you have when you’re done. That being said, please be sure to stop by the nature center when you first arrive for your seed.) Hand-feeding works best with just one or two people or a small group, like three or four. What are optimal weather conditions? Click here for an Ask a Naturalist Q&A to find out.
- Follow the Trout Lily Trail, then hang a right at the fork after the boardwalk across the wetlands, following the sign. Soon you’ll come upon the feeding station marked by a mannequin who keeps the birds familiar with a human presence. (Parker is pretty realistic; then again, birds are fairly easy to fool.)
- Once you’ve found a good spot to sit or stand awhile, extend your hand with some seed in your palm and wait. Birds come in waves, so you may need to wait a little while for the next wave to come. But odds are you’ll have at least a few takers if you’re patient, enjoying the peace and quiet a handful of minutes or so. Enjoy!