Great Backyard Bird Count invites York Residents to explore nature

Rebecca Klar
York Dispatch

Amateur and veteran bird watchers alike mustered at Nixon County Park Nature Center on Saturday, Feb. 16, to spot the different species filling the skies at the York County park. 

"You can hear it in their voice, 'Oh, that's a Chickadee,'" said Francis Velazquez, manager of education and outreach. "It's a great way to introduce them to nature." 

The drop-in program, which kicked off  Friday, Feb. 15, and ran through Sunday, Feb. 17, is part of the Great Backyard Bird Count — a nationwide program where people of all ages collect data for researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. 

At Nixon Park, residents could walk the trails or sit behind windows with signs indicating which birds they might see. Bird watchers could then mark their findings on a white board, keeping track of how many were spotted. 

"It's a fantastic conservation effort," said Janna Lamison, an Emigsville resident. 

Lamison has been bird watching for about four years. The bird count helps keep track of species that should be in certain areas, as well as species popping up unexpectedly because of changing climate patterns, she said. 

"We don't have anything like this in our town, so it's a really special treat," said Maura Harris, of Goldsboro, N.C., back, as she and her son Henry Harris, 8, work together to identify birds they see through the observation windows during the Great Backyard Bird Count Drop-In Program at Nixon Park Nature Center in Springfield Township, Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019. Harris and her family are visiting relatives who live in Red Lion. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Not all who attended this weekend's event had a background in bird watching. Some just came out to the park and stumbled upon the program, Velazquez said. 

The drop-in nature meant residents could spend 10 minutes or half a day exploring the nature center's features, he said.

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Megan Stitt, a Hanover resident, came upon the Great Backyard Bird Count after her daughters' basketball games were canceled.

"We needed something to do after being stuck in the house with all the different snow days that they had from school," Stitt said. "We were going to go a little crazy if we were going to spend another day in the house." 

Stitt Googled things to do in York County and found out about Nixon Park's event. 

The kids, ranging from 3 to 9, had a great time — although they were probably "a little too loud" for any bird watching on the trails, Stitt said. 

Nonetheless, each enjoyed the day outside, with different favorite features among them. There were "rocks to climb" for 8-year-old Josie, and "really pretty streams" for 9-year-old Adelyn. 

Antonia Frock, 9, couldn't pick a favorite. 

"The whole thing," she said.


— Rebecca Klar can be reached at or via Twitter @RebeccaKlar_.