The San Luis National Wildlife Refuge is taking advantage of a relatively new facility to get a little classroom preparation done before venturing outside to encounter nature.
A three-part Introduction to Birding workshop is nearing completion at the refuge's visitors center, which opened in 2011.
"Prior to having the visitors center we didn't even have a place for people to meet up with a refuge staff member," Park Ranger Madeline Yancey said.
She said with the center's audio and visual capabilities it's much easier to teach about the wildlife that can be found on the refuge.
Yancey, who has been bird watching since childhood, is leading the birding workshop. The first session revolved around the definition of birding, the second (which was held Saturday) focused on identifying the scores of bird species that visit the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge each year. Yancey said in September the third section of the workshop will culminate in attendees using what they have learned to go out on the refuge and find some of the birds they've learned about.
Yancey said there were more than 20 people who attended Saturday's session, mostly experienced birders. However, she knows from experience that more information is out there.
"I'm by no means an expert birder. There's always something to learn," Yancey said.
She said she enjoys speaking with other birders and learning from them.
Yancey said the refuge is just starting to hold workshops in the visitors center. She said she's hoping to hold another birding workshop in the spring because song birds are expected to be at the refuge by then.
The San Luis National Wildlife Refuge has a schedule of its events on its website, www.fws.gov/refuge/sanluis. The refuge is also available at (209) 826-3508.
Reporter Corey Pride can be reached at (209) 826-3831 ext. 6563 or e-mail email@example.com.