In celebration of National Bird Day on January 5, and to recognize other wildlife that frequents the National Elk Refuge, winter naturalists have scheduled a line-up of programs in January to highlight the avian species that inhabit the Refuge both seasonally and year-round. National Bird Day was established to provide public education and support for conservation of the world’s bird populations.
A series of displays will be on exhibit throughout the month in the upstairs theater of the Jackson Hole and Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center, located at 532 N. Cache Street in Jackson. The displays will change each week, with a focus on raptors (January 1-10), songbirds (January 11-20), and waterfowl (January 21-31). The displays will be accompanied by activities appropriate for a variety of ages and levels of knowledge related to bird identification. In the same theater area, guests can enjoy a rotating selection of bird-related films.
Naturalists will modify their winter driving tours on the Refuge Road this month to focus on birds and the unique adaptations that allow them to winter in this area. The naturalist-led winter excursions take place from 1:30-3:30 pm each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Reservations are required for the two-hour tours and can be made by calling (307) 201-5406. Binoculars, a spotting scope, and guide books will be available for use. Participants should dress in layers and plan to make frequent stops to exit the vehicle and enjoy views of the landscape and wildlife.
The National Elk Refuge will continue its “Feathered Fridays” visits by the Teton Raptor Center from 12:00-2:00 pm this month, scheduled on January 6, 13, 20, and 27. The informal programs, held in multiple locations throughout the Visitor Center, feature live birds and allow visitors to learn about and photograph a variety of raptors from an arm’s length away.
New this year is the opportunity for school and non-profit groups to sign up for a private Friday group raptor lesson from 11:30 am – 12:00 pm. To schedule an educational program, please call (307) 201-5406. The Teton Raptor Center will also bring a golden eagle to the Visitor Center from 12:00-2:00 pm on tuesday, January 10, an informal designated day to raise awareness about threats faced by eagles.
Visitor Center guests can look for an opportunity to create their own souvenir bird from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm daily on saturday, January 14 through monday, January 16. Naturalists will staff a bird crafts station each day and be on hand to talk about some of the Refuge’s more common feathered inhabitants. All crafting material will be provided free of charge.
Look for a fun photo opportunity on sunday, January 22 when Puddles the Blue Goose makes a special appearance at the Visitor Center from 1:00 – 2:00 pm. The Blue Goose has been the symbol of the National Wildlife Refuge System since 1936. The Blue Goose can be seen on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service publications, posters, and refuge boundary signs throughout the country. Puddles will be in the Visitor Center, posing with guests for photos and handing out prizes to those who participate in related events.
For more information on January programs, please call the Refuge winter naturalist reservation line at (307) 201–5406.