Birds are not only colorful and entertaining to watch, but it's fun to listen to their many songs and calls.
Local residents will have the opportunity to identify at least 25 of the state's most beautiful birds and pick up tips for improving bird identification skills.
As part of the West Virginia Master Naturalist Conference, residents are invited to attend a lecture and reception at 7 p.m., Aug. 16 at the Eshelman Hall Auditorium on the campus of Davis & Elkins College. The event is free, and the keynote speaker will be Dr. Scott Shalaway, a bird expert from Cameron.
Shalaway is a certified wildlife biologist who makes his living as a nature writer. He has a weekly column that reaches more than 1 million readers. Shalaway also writes magazine features and hosts a nature-themed radio show. Following Shalaway's lecture, he will be signing copies of his book, "Building a Backyard Bird Habitat."
"We don't really know a bird or any wildlife species until we can name it," Shalaway said.
His interactive session on identifying birds will feature common and not-so-common West Virginia birds.
The program is offered in conjunction with the 2013 West Virginia Master Naturalist Conference being held Aug. 16-18. Master Naturalist training is offered on a broad range of topics in the fields of natural history and environmental education with topics including mushrooms, wildflowers, insects, snakes, birds, mammals, weather, geology and fossils, all from a West Virginia perspective.
To become certified as a master naturalist, students must complete 64 hours of classroom and field training. Certification also requires 30 hours of volunteer work. To remain certified, West Virginia Master Naturalists must provide 16 hours of volunteer work and complete eight hours of continuing education. Certification normally takes two years to complete, and most classes are offered locally.
The Tygarts Valley Master Naturalist Program in Elkins is currently accepting members. Additional information about the program is available by calling Tommy Zeitz at 304-866-7418.
The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources began the West Virginia Master Naturalist Program in 2004 by providing weekend classes to cover the necessary 64 hours of course work for individuals to become West Virginia Certified Master Naturalists. Thirty hours of volunteer work is also required. The contact person for the Canaan Valley chapter is Andy Dalton at 304-866-7037.
Additional information about the the West Virginia Master Naturalist program and the state conference is available online at mnofwv.org.