Community members were invited to participate in a birdwatching tour led by members of the Golden Eagle Audubon Society on May 6 at the Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve in Boise. The event was part of the week-long Unplugged and Be Outside, hosted by the Meridian Parks and Recreation.

“I thought it was one of the best bird walks I’ve ever been on. It was out of this world. I saw some birds I’ve never seen before,” said Leilani Maloney, 9, of Boise.

The Golden Eagle Audubon Society guides, Kristin Gnojewski and Dondi Black, pointed out birds they recognized and taught the group about some of the birds’ characteristics.

“Not only did (Golden Eagle Society Guides) offer excellent tips and insights into successful bird watching, but they brought a generous supply of high-quality field glasses and spotting scopes for participants to use during the walk through the reserve,” said Shelly Houston, Meridian Parks and Recreation Department spokeswoman.

A large variety of bird species were observed by the group during the two-hour walk, including the yellow-headed blackbird, red-winged blackbird, house finch, Bullock’s oriole, pied-billed grebe, northern shoveler, ruddy duck, great blue heron and belted-kingfisher.

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“I learned about a northern shoveler duck,” Maloney said. “Its coloring is similar to a mallard duck, but it eats differently because of its beak. It has a shovel-like beak.”

Ginger Pulley of Meridian brought her eight-year-old grandson, Patrick, along with her on the tour. “The group on Monday was so fun to be with,” Pulley said. She said she loved seeing the excitement from the group members as they spotted new birds.

“Patrick really enjoyed the fact that it was a family event, and that there were other kids on the walk,” Pulley said.

This tour marks the third year that Meridian Parks and Recreation have included a birdwatching activity during the Unplugged and Be Outside week. Houston said the event “has proven to be very popular and will most likely be continued in the future years.”

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