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19th ‘Vulture Venture’ highlights value of scavenger birds

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Turkey Vulture

The most abundant vulture in the Americas, the Turkey Vulture is widespread over the Ozarks. It is found in pastures, grasslands, and wetlands, most commonly in relatively open areas which provide nearby woods for nesting. The Turkey Vulture feeds primarily on a wide variety of carrion, from small mammals to large grazers, preferring those recently dead, but avoids carcasses that have reached the point of putrefaction.

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Award-winning ornithologist and best-selling author John C. Robinson will provide tips on bird identification and discuss how to get more minorities, youths, and families involved in birding at three Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) programs on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 19 and 20, at the Springfield Conservation Nature Center, 4601 S. Nature Center Way.

Robinson’s first program “Identifying Birds of Western Missouri” will be 7-8 p.m. on Feb. 19. This program is for ages 7 and up. Included among the topics Robinson will cover in this program is how to identify the birds of this region by sight and sound. This program is co-sponsored by the Greater Ozarks Audubon Society.

In a daytime program on Feb. 20, Robinson will focus on how to get young people and minorities involved in birding in “Diversity in the Outdoors: Connecting Youth to Nature.”

This workshop, from 10 a.m.-Noon, is for adults only. Individuals can bring a sack lunch to discuss additional networking opportunities with Robinson from noon to 1 p.m. Robinson will share data collected from environmental educators across the world that pinpoint the top 10 challenges and opportunities to connect our youth with nature and the outdoors. This workshop is co-sponsored by the City of Springfield-Environmental Services, Missouri State University’s Bull Shoals Field Station, The Springfield-Greene County Library and the Greater Ozarks Audubon Society.

Robinson will wrap up his appearance in Springfield with “Birds: Wonders of the Natural World” from 7-8:45 p.m. on Feb. 20. This program is for ages 10 and up. Participants should bring their most burning bird questions so they can participate in Robinson’s always popular “Ask the Bird Man!” session that will be part of this program.

Robinson’s appearance is part of the Nature Center’s “Your Big Year” campaign that encourages everyone to learn about the birds around them. All of these programs are free, but registration is required. To register for these programs or to get information about other events at the Springfield Conservation Nature Center, call 417-888-4237. Information about the Nature Center can also be found at http://mdc.mo.gov/node/287 .

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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